Just across the highway in Thorp, Wisconsin, lies Holland's Family Cheese, a cheese factory that makes gouda cheese. After being in the car for so long, we wanted to stick close to the hotel and do a lot of walking today! We hopped over there and hit the afternoon cheese-making tour.
These big cheese wheels weigh forty pounds each!!! See that window behind my son? Every yellow blip is a wheel of cheese that is curing. That's a LOT of cheese!
We started in the milking area, of course. We had a chance to learn about traditional versus modern techniques, and to see how the machines worked. We watched the milk flow from cow, through the pipes, all the way to the first processing room.
The factory milks 350 cows, three times each day. Can you imagine trying to do that the old-fashioned way? The boys weren't thinking it was a good idea...
After leaving the milking area, we donned cute little booties and headed down to the barns, to meet our new bovine friends. First stop? This little yet-to-be-named guy that was born overnight. He still had his sea legs, and was having trouble coming to the gate. So adorable!
Row after row of cattle greeted us. Some were friendly, a few were neurotic...just like humans, each cow had her own personality. (I say 'her' because the factory only keeps the females. Calves are sent to a separate facility, and bulls are sent to another one.) We enjoyed reading the names off of their ear tags....Doris, Vera, and Stella were particularly friendly!
Exiting the barns, we cleaned up a bit and headed into the processing area. Here, we learned about the beginning stages of making cheese. (Watch the Sesame Street video below for full details.) We saw them brining the cheese, and watched as they hand-painted the yellow coating onto each wheel.
Since the facility uses raw milk, it must cure for at least sixty days before they can sell it. They have several different varieties to choose from, but each one is not always available due to the curing schedule. As the final stop on our tour, we sampled twenty different varieties of gouda. Our food connoisseur liked this part of the visit best!
When you can no longer eat another bite of cheese, head out back to the jumping pillow and work off some of those calories. We had nowhere else to be today, and this was a great outlet for excess energy, so the kids jumped a good, long while. Think we could call that today's P.E....?Cheese-Making resources for children :
- Step-by-step cheese-making (free)
- Milk: From Cow to Carton
- What a Wonderful Day to Be a Cow!
- What a Wonderful Day lapbook (free)
- Little House in the Big Woods (set in these North Woods)
- Little House lapbook (free)
- Farmer Boy (part of the Little House series)
- Farmer Boy lapbook (free)
- Cattle lapbook & unit study (free)
- Chefs A'Field: Kids On The Farm: Episode 305 [HD]
- Fromage Here to Eternity [HD]
Sesame Street classic - How Cheese is Made
Cheese-Making resources for adults :
- The Family Cow Handbook: A Guide to Keeping a Milk Cow
- Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses
- Cheese For Dummies
- Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit
- Liquid Animal Rennet - 2 oz.
- Fromase Rennet - One 10 Tab Slip
The local cheese-maker wins BEST CHEESE in AMERICA!