Meet the Maker – Locheilan Cheese

bruce and sue locheilan cheese

Welcome to our “Meet the Maker” series where we ask some of our regular stallholders about their business.  Farmers’ markets are a great place to meet the person behind the product as there is an opportunity for a chat as you fill your market basket.

This week we say hello to the faces behind Locheilan CheeseBruce and Sue McGorlick

  1. Tell us a little about your farm – the home of Locheilan Cheese.  

Bruce and Sue originally lived in Melbourne when we were first married. We bought a hobby farm in Kilmore and learned all sorts of things about farming, cattle, and milking. Our cow Betsy shared her milk with us and a calf. We had to persuade her to 1. let down her milk, then 2. how not to kick the bucket over when we had finally extracted a cup of milk! Eventually we borrowed a portable goat milking machine to make it a bit easier. As that only had 2 cups (and of course cows have 4 teats) milking took a while!

We had been watching a TV program called “The Good Life” which appealed to us a lot. We had a great vegie garden, made heavenly butter with our mix-master, and even cut up a side of beef for the freezer. That was a big challenge as we had to do it in the evenings after our daytime jobs. The forequarter was on the kitchen table and the hindquarter on the dining table. We had a book with instructions and diagrams, but once the first piece of meat was removed, the rest became unrecognisable. Eventually there was a great rush to get it all done before the blowflies got to it.

Our neighbours were lovely people. He had managed to persuade his wife to go to work every day while he stayed at home training a couple of trotters. They eventually moved to the Goulburn Valley and every time we visited they told us how the land there was so productive and cheap. Our jobs were not going very well so we decided to take the plunge, sell our beloved hobby farm and buy a small dairy near Numurkah. The only one we could afford had no hay, no replacement stock and was a bit smaller than all the rest of the settlement farms. We also discovered later that the vendor had to sell as he was in and out of jail for various misdemeanours and the bank was foreclosing. However, milk prices were going up and all was well.

2. So…… from dairy farmers to cheese makers.  How did that happen?  

Around that time, Bruce decided that he wanted to have a go at making cheese. He enrolled in a week long course at Werribee – the second one that Neil Willman had run. He became quite inspired and tried to make some at home, maturing it in the linen press as the place with the most constant temperature. This was long before the advent of wine fridges, or even before cheap goods from China! The cheese was delicious in the part that had grown the good moulds, but a bit tricky looking in the rest. He decided that he really needed proper facilities before continuing. Meanwhile we changed farms to a bigger one milking more cows and became busier and worked harder developing it. Our children grew and eventually they left home for University and new lives. Then Bruce was able to take on his passion for cheese.

We had a large shed on the farm that we could section off for a little cool room paneled factory and we were away! In the early days we made soft cheeses as we wanted to have some returns fairly quickly for all our expenditure, and they were our favourite cheeses too. However, tastes change and we expanded our range after visits to several European countries and a lot of cheese sampling.

Bruce had always wanted to make blue cheese, and had been trying different methods for many years with varying degrees of success. Making cheese in Australia has different challenges to Europe. Our extremely hot summers mean that cool room refrigeration units work constantly and that dries out the cheese. Our milk varies also throughout the year. During the drought we had our cows with a neighbour who was milking once a day and growing crops that needed very little irrigation water. The cows kept producing milk, but its qualities changed every day so it was really difficult to make cheese from it.

The drought was a very sad time as we eventually had to sell most of our herd that we had bred up over 25 years. However, we survived and are still on the same farm near Wunghnu. We have tried several working arrangements with leasing, employment of farm managers and have yet to find an ideal system. During all this time we have continued making cheese and attending markets every weekend as well as a range of wholesale customers.

3. What is your favourite way to enjoy your cheese?  

Our favourite way to enjoy our cheese has not changed. Beautiful crusty bread, a soft oozy brie/camembert, a glass of wine (preferably a Ros Ritchie Reisling), and friends to share. The ultimate enjoyment.

4.  When Bruce is able to fill up the shopping basket at the Mansfield Farmers’ market, what are his favourites to bring home?

Other lovely products at the Mansfield market seem to still involve dairy products – Mansfield ice cream, beautiful Maindample Imperial Produce fudge – or maybe it is just that we have a sweet tooth between us?

 

Thankyou to Bruce and Sue for sharing a little about your life on the farm and the cheese making process.  We love having you at our market and are very happy that you have been coming along from the very beginning back in 2009!

locheilan farmhouse cheese
locheilan cheese bruces blue
sue locheilan cheese
bruce locheilan cheese

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4th Saturday of the month

Come and join in the fun at our monthly farmers' market - a place to buy your meat, cheese, bread, vegies and more but also catch up with your friends.

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