sweet dreams are made of cheese
We meet a cheese-making couple who have done the ultimate DIY job, from pasture to pecorino.
No-one loves Kirsty Silvester’s artisan cheeses more than her mum. The day Wild Bush Cheese got the official tick of approval to sell its products, she got on the phone.
“Before we got all our paperwork, we were giving away a lot of cheese to friends and family and they kept asking ‘when can we buy it?’,” says Kirsty. “Mum was so great. She just rang everybody, ‘do you want to buy any cheese – how much do you want?’ So it was just by luck we had sort-of done our marketing and we already had a market.”
In that first official year, Kirsty made 300kg of halloumi, feta and pecorino in her DIY cheesemaking factory. Last year it was 450kg. In the 2017-2018 season she’s expecting to produce 800kg of cheese and customers can’t wait. The feta Kirsty made on her first day of cheesemaking for 2017 was sold before she’d cut the curd.
“We supply the most fantastic cheese shop down in Featherston called C’est Cheese, it’s like an Aladdin’s cave, and the cheese I’ve made today has got their name on it. (Owner Paul Broughton) has been asking me for more for a couple of months, so that’s going straight down there.”
Kirsty’s artisan cheesemaking journey began when her partner Dave Chapman gifted her a cheese kit in 2011. She started using local organic cow’s milk and found the process so enjoyable, she took a few courses to learn more.
“Our friends and family loved the cheese I was making and I found myself making more and more of it.”
In 2012 the couple visited Dave’s daughter Cara who was living in Italy.
“While we were there we did some wwoofing (working in exchange for food and accommodation) on a small dairy farm. I learned how to milk sheep and goats by hand, while Dave did some building, scything, and even shearing with good old-fashioned clippers.”
The family who owned the farm made their own raw milk cheese to a traditional recipe and it was inspiring.
“This got us both thinking more about what we could do when we returned home.”
The couple live in the small rural community of Woodville on a block Dave bought back in 1995. He built a house and ran sheep, cows, a large flock of chickens and some ducks. When he met Kirsty, the collection of animals quickly grew to include alpacas, cats and a dog.
“And anything else that turned up!” jokes Kirsty.
Their lifestyle business, inspired by that trip to Italy, was designed to be enough work for just the two of them, and they do it all: farm the sheep, milk them, and make and sell the cheese. ➤
The feta Kirsty made on her first day of cheesemaking for 2017 was sold before she cut the curd.