Dublin – The cattle industry in the Lone Star State is big business. From the plains to the valley, we’ve seen all sorts of livestock is all sorts of settings and when we pulled into the Veldhuizen Farm in Dublin, it’s safe to say we found some of the happiest cows we have ever come across. Stuart Veldhuizen takes good care of his cattle because they provide him and his family with lots of cheese.
“We really disturb them very little,” Stuart said. “The only time we really mess with them is milking, which is twice a day, so we really don’t mess with them a lot, they’re just curious as ever it’s like, what are you doing out here today? And so they just come up.”
Stuart isn’t exactly from around here.
“I say I got delivered out in Minnesota, brought to Texas, it’s where I’m supposed to be,” Stuart said.
His journey to the Lone Star State started in the early 90’s when the former diary farmer’s father found a magazine article about making milk in the most beautiful place in the whole world.
“My dad actually read an article about a Texas dairy and he showed me pictures and there was cows on green grass in December,” Stuart said. “And when you live in that world you think, how can that be? A dairy where there’s green grass in December?”
Their venture only lasted until 1996 when Stuart decided that making milk wasn’t for him, but after working off the farm for a few years he started to yearn for another adventure in agriculture. This time, he wanted to be the big cheese.
“Doing some research and found that raw milk cheeses looked like the up and coming thing, ended up deciding to do it,” Stuart said.
With the help of his wife, Connie, his daughters, Chelsea and Rachel, and Stuart’s dad, Veldhuizen cheese got off the ground. To make the artisan cheese different from the rest, his daughter Chelsea had the bright idea of adding sheep to the mix.
“This is the only dairy in Texas that has sheep,” Stuart said. “I’m sure there’s a little bit around, more in Europe where there’s maybe some blends. There’s maybe a little in the U.S. but nothing in Texas.”
Stuart and four generations of his family got to milking and making all sorts of raw milk cheese.
“It’s just a beautiful … flavors of the cow side, and amazing flavors of the sheep side,” Stuart said.
One of the biggest differences with this cheese is the fact it’s raw milk which means it’s not processed. In other words, you won’t find any yellow cheese here.
“Raw cheese means that it never gets warmer than the temperature of the cow during the whole cheese making process,” Stuart said. “So with most cheese that people are used to, they first pasteurize the milk at 181 degrees for 30 seconds, cool it back down to 89 to 90 degrees, do the cheese making process. What we do is we start with our milk at 89 degrees with our cheese making and it’ll only get up to 100 to 102. We never get it above that mark, so it’s raw milk cheese. So we don’t change the structure of the cheese, we keep all this natural flora that’s in our milk that gets passed on into the cheese. And so this’ll be run through the Cheddar mill and we will add salt to it and some beer today and we’ll mix all this in and then we’ll be running it or putting it into the molds.”
The cheese is aged in rooms that would surely be on any rodent’s bucket list. With 20 varieties on hand, you’ll find all kinds of queso.
“We make sheep Gouda and then we thought well, let’s marry the two and so now we have a blend, which is gorgeous,” Stuart said. “Now you’re just making everything Gouda. “Yeah. That’s a cheese joke, everything Gouda.”
Connie gave us a crash course on this culinary delight.
“We’re gonna go over here next to our sheep cheese, this is called Wooly Texas,” Connie said. “This is all sheep. We have a couple of all sheep cheeses, and a couple that are cow and sheep blend. So it’s gonna have a little bit different flavor to it, ’cause it’s a different type of milk. It’s really not saltier, it’s just how it hits your pallet. What happens is that cheese ages, they’re all aged at different amounts of time, flavors will concentrate, so you’ll taste them more but actually, so it doesn’t actually have more salt.”
It’s all comes down to happy cows and sheep making the most of their milk. With cheese this good, the Veldhuizen farm in Dublin is a can’t miss stop on the Texas Bucket List.
“I really feel that I’m really living more than the American Dream, because I get to have all these people at home at a place where we work and live life, it’s beautiful,” Stuart said.