This Fresh Curd Friday we’re introducing you to another WW Homestead Dairy farmer. Trent Walleser is the youngest son of Tom Walleser and just like his brother, Tanner, he started his farming journey at a young age. Trent’s main focus on the farm is herd health, milking and feeding calves.
Trent starts the morning early. The first chores of the day are milking and feeding calves. All the young calves are fed milk, a little grain and given fresh water. After milking and calf chores are finished he heads out to check on any cows or calves who need a little extra attention and treats them if needed. As herd manager, he spend a lot of time with the cows and calves making sure they are healthy and happy.
Trent handles most of the breeding at Walleser farms. His goals are to breed high quality heifers for milk quality, good udders and good feet. He watches the cows daily for heats and then matches them with a bull to balance out their strengths and weaknesses.
Checking cows, breeding and taking care of calves take up most of Trent’s day but, you also might find him checking on the beef herd. By afternoon he is back in the milk parlor and hanging out with the milk cows again. During haying & corn season Trent runs the chopper, making sure to put up high quality feeds for the cow herd that they will feed year-round.
Trent spends most of his time as herdsman on the farm, but when he has time you can find him relaxing with a few drinks or on the Mississippi. Trent’s favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is Cookie Dough ice cream.
Another Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we’re introducing you to Tanner Walleser. Tanner is the oldest of Tom Walleser son’s and helps run all the day to day operations at Walleser Farms. He has been farming since he could crawl (maybe even earlier than that) and only took a short break to head to Iowa State University to get a degree in Business. Tanner spends most of his time on the farm milking, feeding cows and doing fieldwork.
A normal day for Tanner starts at 5AM. The first task of the day is heading to the barn for to milk the cows. Morning milking and clean up takes around three hours. After everyone is milked and the parlor is clean, it's time to take care of the rest of the days chores.
Daily chores for Tanner means spending time cleaning up after the cows, scraping out the barns, and filling the stalls with sand when needed. He also helps feeds the cows most days and works on the rest of the days to-do list. Late afternoon you’ll find him in the milk parlor again, milking the cows for the second time. During the spring, summer and fall, fieldwork takes up the majority of the day. Spring planting starts in April, usually the first hay crop is ready by end of May and continues through the rest of the summer. Around September it’s time to start harvesting corn.
Tanner also helps out with the 400 head beef herd. From January to April their cows are calving, keeping him busy checking on calving moms and making sure everyone is healthy. The last few years they have spent the months of February and March planning for their Freeburg Ridge Angus bull sale. This year, you can check that out the first weekend in April.
On Fresh Curd Friday’s, Tanner delivers cheese curds and product on our Lansing/Wisconsin route. You’ll also find him helping with some of WW Homestead Dairy’s yearly events – St. Patrick’s Day and the Corn Days Car Show.
His favorite farming jobs include baling & merging hay. Farming is a full time job, but when he has time you can find him enjoying a blue smoothie, shed hunting, on the Mississippi river or hunting. Tanner’s favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is vanilla ice cream.
Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we’re introducing you to another one of WW Homestead Dairy's farmers. Stephanie is one of Tom Weighner’s four daughters. She started working at Weighner Brothers Farms in junior high and has been around ever since.
Steph’s main focus on the farm is herd health, calf health and keeping her four wild ones out of trouble.
Usually, she lets Marshall handle the morning milking while she gets the kids up and ready to go for the day. They do school in the house and then everyone heads outside to do the rest of morning chores. If any cows or calves are sick, she treats them or calls her veterinarian (also her sister) to take care of them.
Steph also handles all of the breeding on the farm. She uses a GEA monitoring system to keep track of each cow’s activity level. Every cow gets to wears a special necklace with an activity tracker. When a cow comes into heat it triggers an alert on the computer which tells her they are ready to breed. She pulls up the cow’s page and checks their activity level to confirm (or heads to the barn to watch them for a bit). Currently, she is using a ProCross breeding program, along with aAa mating system. The ProCross system uses Montbeliarde, Holstein and the Swedish Red dairy breeds. aAa looks at the cows and takes their weaknesses and strengths into account, then matches them with compatible bulls. You could say she’s a little bit of a cow matchmaker.
In the afternoons Steph milks the cows, feeds calves and checks everyone over to make sure they don’t need any special attention. All the milk she feeds the calves comes from the cow herd. She milks a cow into a pail, pasteurizes it to kill any bad bacteria and then feeds it to the calves.
In her spare time she likes to plan new adventures, like driving 16 hours to pick up a rare breed of sheep or designing her new strawberry patch (berries coming your way in 2021.) Marshall and her plant sweet corn every spring to sell it in August. She also enjoys morel mushroom hunting, Gator rides and boating on the Mississippi. Steph’s favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is strawberry sundaes from the ice cream parlor or coffee from the coffee barn.
WW Homestead Dairy is made up of two family farms, Weighner Brothers Farms and Walleser Farms. Tom Weighner, Paul Weighner and Tom Walleser are the owners of WW Homestead Dairy. In 2011 they decided to switch gears and begin processing the milk from their farms into a value-added product to sell directly to customers. Their hope was that this would allow the next generation to continue to do what they love and farm. Over the next couple months we will introduce you to our farmers, families and the cheesemakers at WW Homestead Dairy.
On this Fresh Curd Friday, we want you to meet one of our dairy farmers. You’ve probably seen Marshall pop up on our social media account from time to time, although he’s not a big fan of getting in front of the camera he will usually let us snap a picture or two. Marshall started his farming career in junior high and has been involved in agriculture ever since. He and his wife, Stephanie (one of Tom Weighner’s daughters), with the help of their four kiddos, and Shelia the Border Collie, run most of the day to day operations at Weighner Brothers Farm.
Marshall is up bright and early, 4:30AM, almost every day to milk the cows. (Don’t worry, Steph does give him a morning and weekend off every once and awhile.) After milking, he mixes feed for the cows and then spends the rest of the day on whatever needs to get done. During the winter months that means equipment maintenance, cutting firewood, bedding animals, checking water’s, and pushing snow. Spring, summer and fall you’ll find him fixing equipment and doing fieldwork.
On days when Steph needs extra help in the afternoons, Marshall helps finish up afternoon milking, scrape barns and feed cows. In the evenings he heads out to say goodnight to all the cows, checks for new calves and pushes up feed so the girls can have a midnight snack.
All fun and no play makes for a grouchy farmer, so when he can, he sneaks away to enjoy a little fishing, boat rides on the Mississippi, Gator rides on the farm or working on his old tractors. His favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is Homestead Vanilla ice cream, covered maple syrup from the trees he taps in the spring!
Cheddar Cheese. Probably one of the most well known and popular cheese types in the world. Cheddar cheese has a slightly nutty flavor and a semi-hard texture. The longer cheddar cheese ages the "sharper" it tastes. For some mild cheddar is perfect and others prefer the sharpiest they can get (that would be me)!
Many varieties of cheddar that are produced have added food coloring to make the cheese color more consistent, but cheddar cheese is naturally off-white. So all those pretty orange/yellow blocks of cheddar cheese you see... food coloring! We skip this step and let the pretty off-white color of the natural cheddar shine.
So, how do we get from cow's milk to those delicious cheese slices on your crackers. Well let's find out!
As with all cheese you need the raw ingredients to start. Milk comes in from our farms and is delivered three or four days a week. The only other ingredients used are rennet, enzymes and salt!
After the milk arrives to our creamery it is pasteurized. Our pasteurizer is high-temp, short-time or HTST. Our milk is heated up to 162F for 15 seconds. HTST pasteurization is great because it kills all the potentially bad bacteria that could make you sick in the milk, but it doesn't heat it high enough to denature proteins of change the structure of the milk. This means there is minimal, if any, change to the flavor of the milk and keeps it as close natural as possible.
After pasteurization milk is pumped into our cheese curd vats, enzymes and rennet are added, and the milk is cooked until a curd forms. The cheese is then cut with large knives and the whey is drained from the vats. The cheese forms a large mat of cheddar that is cut into smaller chunks. These chunks are stacked and flipped multiple times (this is known as cheddaring). The acidity of the whey draining off is tested. This test tells us when to flip and when to stop the cheddaring process.
When the cheese is done it is time to mill and salt. Salting the cheese enhances the flavor, pulls moisture out and also can help regulate microbial growth. The curds are stirred in the cheese vat to make sure they are coated evenly with the salt and then the fun of pressing cheese begins!
Cheese curds that are going to be turned into cheddar are weighed out to ensure the correct amount is packed into the cheese forms. The forms are lined with cheese cloth and filled with cheese curds. Usually, we fill the molds up, squeeze the curd down and then pack the last five pounds in by hand.
The cheese cloth is folded over the curd and the lid goes on! Cheese forms get placed on the cheese press and squeezed down. The pressure from the cheese press removes excess whey and causes the curds to knit back together into a large block of cheese.
After the blocks have been pressed they are removed from the forms, placed into bags and vacuum sealed shut. Then our 40 pound blocks of cheese are placed on the shelf to age. Cheddar ages anywhere from 30 days to 8 years. The oldest aged cheddar that we have is 2 plus years old!
Looking to learn more about our cheese and want to check out our processing plant? Come visit and set up a tour! You can find all our cheeses (and more) on our retail store shelves and specialty shops around the tri-state area. If you can't make it in, shop online and have our block cheddar and cheese curds delivered straight to your front door.
You finally did it! Grabbed a gallon of WW Homestead Dairy milk at your local grocery store... only to get home, open it up, and ewww.... it's all globby and curdled on top!
But wait! Then you remember this non-homogenized thing you've been hearing about. What's that again?
Non-homogenized or cream-line milk, is milk in it's most natural state. Milk is made up of water, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. When unprocessed milk sits undisturbed the large fat globules will begin to separate out and rise to the top of the glass. All you have to do is shake or stir it up and magically the cream redistributes throughout the milk and looks "normal" again.
Most milk that is bottled up in our modern age is homogenized to make it more appealing and consistent for consumers. In order to homogenize milk it must go through a mechanical and completely unnecessary step. Milk is heated, agitated and then forced through a small screen at high pressure. This breaks up the large fat globules into smaller, more uniform pieces. These smaller fat globules no longer rise to the top, instead they stay in suspension throughout the liquid part of the milk.
Sure, homogenization is just a mechanical process that does not change the nutrition or caloric content of milk, but there is anecdotal evidence that some people find natural, non-homogenized milk easier to digest. We have talked to folks who thought they were lactose intolerant, who find they can drink our milk with no issues (although there is no studies that prove this, so try at your own risk!). In it's natural form milk is sweeter, creamier and more flavorful than homogenized milk. The best way to know if you can taste a difference is to try it!
So, if WW Homestead Dairy doesn't homogenize their milk is it still safe to drink!? Absolutely! Our milk is not homogenized, but it is still pasteurized. These are completely different processes. Pasteurization is used to kill any harmful bacteria that may have found their way into our product.
WW Homestead Dairy produces whole, 1%, skim and skim chocolate milk. Why not 2%? If you were with us waayyyyy back when we first started you might remember that 2% milk was in our line up. After a short time, we noticed that because of the smoother and creamier taste of non-homogenized milk, our 1% tasted just as good as any 2% homogenized milk you could buy off the shelf. So we discontinued the 2% and now just offer whole and 1% non-homogenized milk.
If you have questions or want to learn more about how we process our creamline products give us a call and set up a tour! We'll show you around our processing plant and you can see exactly how we process your milk, butter and ice cream.
We know your here because your looking for the BEST cheese curds you can get! Read more about how we started our cheese curd journey here and check out our other products here.
And now... drum roll please.... check out this list of stores to find cheese curds near you! I have linked as many as possible, but if we missed you, send us a message or comment below and we'll get you added. AND remember to check your local Fareway Grocery Stores for our cheese curds. Ask at the meat counter if you don't see them.
Ever wonder about what it takes to make that container of cottage cheese you grab off the grocery store shelf? Maybe not, but I bet you'd be surprised to find out it takes 10-11 hours to turn a vat full of milk into your cottage cheese!
We usually start filling our cottage cheese vat around 2 AM. The pasteurized (but not homogenized!) milk that is pumped into the vat is what will eventually become the "curd" part of the finished product. It gets a few ingredients added to it, a little stir and then it sits for HOURS while we wait for the magic to happen.
Meanwhile, we begin working on the dressing, which is the liquid part of cottage cheese. Milk and cream in our raw room is mixed up, pasteurized, cooled and then stored in a tank until the time comes to mix it with the curd. Then we head back to the curd vat...
And magically the curd has appeared! It is all one giant mat of cheese and needs to be cut with special cheese knives, to make the tiny curd pieces you find in your cottage cheese container. After we cut it then it has to be cooked, so we stir and cook, and stir and cook, and stir and cook for a couple more hours. Finally, we get to start draining the whey off the curd and eventually, we have a giant vat of cottage cheese curd that is ready to be mixed with the dressing. Dressing is added and then we package our finished product into the containers that you pick up at your local store!
Want to see the process in action? Come visit us and take a tour of our processing plant! We can't guarantee that you will get to see cottage cheese being made, but we process our products almost every day, Monday-Friday, so chances are pretty good you will be able to learn about how we make our non-homogenized milk, cheese curds, butter or ice cream. To set up a tour give us a call at (563)568-4950 or email at email@example.com.
Looking for our non-homogenized cottage cheese near you? Check out these local stores. Don't see your store or town listed! Let us know where you would like to see our products and we will do our best to get them to you.
Waukon - WW Homestead Dairy Retail Store, Fareway Waukon, Quillins
Decorah Fareway - Decorah, IA
Timbe Ridge Country Market - Osceola, IA
Iowa Food Cooperative - Des Moines, IA
Steve's Country Meats - Genoa, WI
Moore Family Farm - Maquoketa, IA
Country View Dairy - Hawkeye, IA
HyVee Asbury - Dubuque, IA
Cresco Fareway - Cresco, IA
Udder Brothers Creamery - Boscobel, WI
By the Spoonful - McGregor, IA
Unionland Feed & Food Market - West Union, IA
Local Oven Bakery - Prairie du Chien, WI
Share your favorite award winning cheese with your favorite people this holiday season! You can choose from our pre-designed boxes or customize your own. Customized boxes may feature any of the locally produced cheeses, salsa, sauces or gifts you find in our retail store. WW Homestead Dairy cheese boxes are the perfect gift for the foodies in your life or the hostess of your holiday party. Check out the descriptions and order forms below. You can also shop our pre-designed boxes online!
It's the most wonderful time of the year to send you loved ones your favorite cheese! Check out our online store to ship fresh, squeaky cheese curds, freshly churned butter and other great local products to your family (or send some to yourself to complete your holiday parties!) If you would like to send a more customized box check out our Gift Box & Shipping page for order forms & descriptions.