The Crawford family have owned and farmed 330 acres of prime Vermont land and a herd of Ayrshire cows since 1950. Located near Whiting, the farm is now owned and managed by siblings Cindy, Jim and Sherry who acquired the property from their parents and grandparents.
In recent years, like so many small-scale dairy farmers, they were faced with an unsustainable milk price on the open market and no recognition for the fact they were producing higher quality milk than most. In order to save the business, Jim, Cindy and Sherry made the decision to reduce the number of cows they owned from 70 to 20 and transition into raw farmstead cheese production.
Fortunately they met cheesemaker Maria Trumper, whose goal it was to make a raw milk cheese. Together they converted a 1910 barn on the property and began cheese production with 150lbs. per week, using an old soup kettle as a cheese vat..
Ayrshire milk is particularly well suited to cheese making. In terms of fat and protein, it is not as high as Jersey or Guernsey, but not as low as Holstein. The way in which the fats and proteins break down are a perfect platform for the development of an excellent cheese.
They have named the cheese Vermont Ayr in deference to both the clean air enveloping the farm, and to the cows. Although styled after an Alpine cheese, it is quite reminiscent of a cheddar. Cheeses are aged in climate controlled conditions on the farm.
Vermont Ayr is a beautifully balanced, rich cheese, with complex flavors and great length.
Wheels are aged for a minimum of three months although some are aged to about seven months. The rind is of stone-colored grey mold, and relatively thin. Flavors are toasty and nutty, with a smooth buttery finish.