Located in south eastern Minnesota, Shepherd's Way Farms is owned by Steven Read & Judi Ohlsen. Together with their four sons, Steven and Judy have worked tirelessly to develop the farm as a sheep dairy and cheesemaking operation, producing their first cheese, Friesago, in 1998.
Other cheeses have also followed: Queso Fresco de Oveja, and Big Woods Blue, together with Hidden Falls, Harmand, and a traditional Ricotta that are available on a limited basis.
The sheep at Shepherd's Way are almost entirely Friesian crosses and are rotationally grazed on home pasture.
Against this backdrop, in January of 2005 the Read family suffered a devastating tragedy when a large-scale fire destroyed two barns containing two thirds of their 550 milking ewe flock, and their entire crop of 200 new lambs.
Rather than giving up, the Reads decided to try and rebuild their lives and their business, which they are now doing with the help of friends and supporters. They are utterly committed to the project and are now in a position where they are able to produce their cheeses once more.
In 2007, Jodi was able to re-commence cheesemaking and they are starting to sell more cheese as it becomes available.
The interior paste of Big Woods Blue is an ivory color, shot through with pale blue-green veins that are more concentrated towards the center of the cheese.
Flavors are assertively spicy, peppery and tangy but are held in check by naturally sweet notes of the sheep's milk.