We were greeted into Castle Cary with beautiful sunshine and gorgeous scenery. Tom picked us up from the station and took us on a drive through his dad’s farm and showed us the different fields and what they were growing. He explained to us the importance of ‘terroir’, which is a French word that describes the influence that the land has on the food/drink produced there.
We were shown the different type of cows in the 2 heards and what their particular milk does to help the cheese.
Tom then took us to see where the cows got milked twice a day. He explained to us that the cows all wear bracelets, which allow the farmers to see if the cow is suffering from stress or anything similar. If this is spotted they wouldn’t milk her, as she may not produce good quality milk.
We then got shown where the cows sleep if weather conditions are bad. They even had their own cow massage to keep them happy. Tom told us that they are now starting experiments to see if what the cows sleep on affect the milk produced. They are doing this by rubbing the cow’s udders with various bedding material before they’re milked.
We were then told the history of the company, which was started by Edith Cannon in 1890. In 1970s there was a change and Westcombe grew with the times and started to produce block cheddar for supermarkets. This only lasted 10 years, as they went back to Edith’s original recipe.
We then took a look inside the dairy, as the cheese was being made. We got to watch the whey being separated from the curds and the stacking and turning done by hand.
Lastly we were taken into the most beautiful underground cheese cellar, which is built into the clay of the surrounding hill. Inside is a cooling system that is using water from the spring behind the cellar to keep the room at the right temperature and humidity.
We were shown the amazing Tina Turner, which is the cheese turning robot. She lifts, brushes and turns the cheese, which is a more effective way to humans, as she can do it with precision and doesn’t dent the cheese.