Among all the cheesemakers we met, only the Crawfords were traditional, “old-line” dairy farmers in the business of selling fluid milk. Jim, Cindy and Sherry Crawford raise and milk red-and-white Ayrshire cows, not just to preserve this historic breed or for the unique qualities of their milk, but because their family always has, for four generations. Ayrshire milk is naturally homogenized and forms very little cream line. Its fat globules are tiny and easy to digest. Antique Ayrshire milk bottles proclaim the milk to be the “best for babies and invalids”.
Three years ago, to help cushion the buffeting of the brutal, volatile fluid milk business, the Crawfords began to divert some of their milk to cheesemaking. They make one cheese, Vermont Ayr, a milky, nutty, pliably firm Tomme-like wheel made in an old Harvard University Dining Hall soup kettle. Some of the cheeses they ripen in their own cool aging room. Other cheeses they sell young to the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm, where visionary cheesemakers and ripeners Mateo and Andy Kehler wash their rinds and age them in their ambitious warren of ripening caves dug into the hillside of their Greensboro, Vermont farm. The Jasper Hill-aged cheeses are more pungent, more succulent.