Monday, February 21, 2011

Osth Family Farm in North Zulch, Texas

The Osth Family
Joan and Johan Osth (pronounced "ost" which means cheese in Swedish) are headed for self-sufficiency on their farm in North Zulch, Texas, population 2,516.  Making their own cheese from their own cow's milk is, of course, an important part of the dream.

Joan Osth
Joan was extremely excited when she first started making cheese a few months ago.  She had made her own yogurt, but making mozzarella (from our 30 Minute Mozzarella Kit) was a whole new story.  She wrote to us:  "I went on this past weekend to make not only the mozzarella, but also ricotta a few times, cream cheese and another round of mozzarella! I have to read the cheese a bit better though since it's still a little on the firm side--more like mozzarella chewing gum!*  LOL. The taste though is very good.

*Joan was using raw milk for her mozzarella (from her 3/4 Jersey-Taffy).  We have geared the 30 minute recipe for store-bought milk, so we recommend lowering the temperatures when using raw milk to 90F.  In fact, you may be able to eliminate entirely the step where you reheat the curds after cutting them.  It's also important not to knead the cheese- a little bit of letting it fall on itself in your hands to get the salt mixed in, is enough. Too much results in a tougher cheese.

Getting ready to make mozzarella
Cutting the curd
Stretching the mozzarella
Finished cheese
Leftover whey for Joan's bread, the pigs and the garden

Chicken tractor moves around the pasture

The Osth family farm consists of Joan, Johan, their 3 children, 12, 11 and 9 and Johan's 86 year old father.  On their 88 acre farm they cultivate 2 acres of herbs and vegetables and they raise cattle, one dairy cow, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys and honeybees.  They also have two draft horses and two guard dogs for the goats.

Johan teaches English as a Second Language at a local elementary school, but he still manages to work the farm.

Joan is the "general manager," and she also makes goat's milk soap, maintains their website, writes the newsletter and does all the bookkeeping for the farm.

Soon, they will be able to take online orders for their products at their

Johan milking Taffy

How did you get into farming?

We are in North Zulch, Texas, and it was kind of a natural progression of things that we had a farm. I actually grew up mostly in suburban Houston, but was born in Salem, Mass! Sorta down the road form you guys--the same state anyway. We moved away when I was a baby, to Utah and then to Houston when I was seven. Dad always had a garden and mom cooked a lot in her own New England way. Dad is from Arlington and Mom was from Medford.

My husband and I bought our first house in a small town (Madisonville) that had a large lot. We started growing veggies there and had some chickens. We sold the veggies from our front yard and also at the farmers market.

Brazos Valley Farmer's Market

We bought property fifteen minutes down the road and started with meat goats and our two horses. Then it just grew from there. We had our first opportunity for milking last year. Aside from family farm life, we sell fresh veggies, eggs, animals and goat milk soap.

I just launched our website two weeks ago - if you want to take a closer look at us. We also have a weekly newsletter I send out to our customers.  (Note- to sign up for their mailing list, click here.)

Are you making cheese with the goat's milk or just the cow's?

We haven't made goat cheese yet. Right now we use the milk for our soap, but we hope to do some cheese soon. I really like goat cheese. With the calf, we don't get as much milk as we did, so we drink it all!  But he'll be weaned in a month or so and then we'll be in good milk again. This was an orphan calf and thankfully, Taffy took him. We sold her other calf and was able to put him on right away so she really didn't know what happened.   She thinks it's her calf.

Noble Charlie after February 4th snowfall
A few months later, Joan wrote:

We decided Taffy's calf, a steer (castrated bull), was in great shape to be sold and had him taken to the sale barn this weekend. Since Taffy's our half Jersey cow, she's been sharing her milk with her calf and the Osth family.

At the suggestion of a neighbor who grew up with a milk cow in the family, we decided to let Taffy stay with her calf during the day and the calf gets all the milk he wants. We separate the two at night so in the morning, Taffy's bag is filled to the brim with creamy milk for us. Any milk we don't drink, I can make into cheese, or we give to the pigs, chickens and dogs.

With Taffy's calf gone, we are continuing to lead Taffy into the milking station, and then allowing Marshall (the Christmas day orphan bull calf) to drain her bag during the day, and then keeping him away from her at night. We still keep our cow in milk and Marshall gets a good meal - a win win situation for both of us. Last year we found out milking two times a day was very limiting to us as a family so the single morning milking situation has worked great!

Osth Family Farm
5800 Strawther Rd.
North Zulch, TX 77872

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