Whenever I go on vacation, I like to check out local farms or other places that are related to homesteading. I was excited about the Trout Lake area because it was touted as being “organic”.
I was staying at a small “retreat” in Trout Lake and struck up a conversation with a local couple. They asked why I was there and what I did in GA. I shared with them about the Lazy B Farm and they, being like-minded, mentioned a couple of places we should check out while in the area.
I met John over at his shop and we chatted while he checked on the wheels of cheese…
This particular day was market day and he was cutting and wrapping cheese to sell at the local Farmers Market.
He shared some samples with us and the cheese was very good!
There was a kindred spirit with John since he was a self-taught cheesemaker, following a passion.
So the story goes…John came to Trout Lake and fell in love with the area. He wanted to learn all he could about dairy farming.
Trout Lake in it’s peak, was a mecca for dairy farms and was home to about 30 dairies in the 1800’s. John, also a history buff, wanted to preserve the history of the area. He apprenticed with one of the very few dairies still around and learned all about cows and milking. John wanted no monetary payment for his labors so the farmer gifted John with his own Swiss dairy cow.
John now owns 6 cows which he milks for his cheese. This is where the cows live, just down the road from the creamery…
John became fascinated with the whole process of making cheese, a long time tradition in Trout Lake that had faded with time.
Mr. William Coate had been a local cheese maker and he owned a cave where he cured his cheese. The cave is still in existence today but not in use. John was able to get one of his original cheese recipes and started to make Guler Cheese, once again bringing back the history of cheese making in the area.
This picture is a framed wrapper for the original Guler cheese.
As luck would have it, while I was chatting with John, a gentleman and his wife walked into the cheese shop.
It was Mr. Ken Coate, the great grandson of William Coate – the original cheese maker! Ken and his wife, Linda, had stopped by to meet the man who was carrying on their family tradition and to buy a wheel of his cheese to take to Tacoma for a wedding.
To celebrate this occasion, Ken opened up a bottle of pear wine from a local winery, toasting this fortuitous meeting. We all toasted this new friendship while Ken thanked John for his endeavors to reclaim history. There was even mention of Ken working it out for John to cure his cheeses in the original cave.
Local wine with local cheese….yum!
After Ken and Linda left, we took a quick tour of John’s facility. This is the kitchen…
And this is the room for aging the wheels of cheese…
John’s cheese has become quite popular in the area and he’s having a hard time keeping up with the demand – nice problem to have, huh?
We left John with the promise of seeing him that evening at the Hood River Farmers Market so I could buy some of his Guler cheese – that was my favorite.
I bought his last piece of Guler cheese to take to a friend the next day.
Aside from his yummy cheeses, I loved the simplicity of his display.
We left at the end of the market and stopped to say goodbye. He’d sold all but one wedge of cheese! If I wasn’t so concerned about how to keep it fresh, I would have snatched up that piece to bring home!
Oh, and did I mention that he also runs a CSA?? His CSA is between his creamery on, yes, Guler Street, and the fields where his cows graze.
Exciting to see a man achieve his dreams…