Visiting cheese makers across the country has been one of my favourite activities since we set up Slate four years ago. On every trip I've been met by friendly welcomes and fascinating insight into how cheeses from St Jude to Westcombe Cheddar and Lincolnshire Poacher are made and matured. Nothing beats getting hands on with cheese making to appreciate the skill and attention to detail involved. Details of these visits, including many glamorous photos of blue hairnets, can be found in our back catalogue of blogs.

Lockdown restrictions have stopped visits over the last year. However it's extremely important for us to keep in touch with those making the delicious cheese we stock to fully appreciate how tastes and textures are evolving. This enables us to bring you the full flavour story and cheese in great condition.

In the first of a series of 'Cheesemaker Chats' I wanted to share recent news from Fen Farm Dairy here in Suffolk, where Jonny Crickmore and his team make brie-style Baron Bigod.

As always things sound extremely busy on the farm and recent weather has been challenging, even before this week's snow. Hopefully before too long we can head up to Bungay to see their new facilities and of course give the cows a pat! 

heart shaped Baron Bigod in a box

What's happening on the farm at the moment?

We have just started our spring calving. Our first two little calves arrived at the beginning of last week. We have nearly finished building our new office and we're very excited about putting in our bigger solar panel system to help in efforts towards becoming even greener.

Have the cows coped with the recent heavy rain and flooding?

The cows have been fine. At the moment they are all in the shed so have not been affected by the bad weather. However the grass has unfortunately been affected by recent rain and it will mean we will have to delay the cows going out in the spring, as its condition is so poor.

How much cheese making have you been doing since the start of the year with Lockdown 3?

We are currently making the average amount of cheese at this time of year. Sales have gone to markets and transferred from restaurants to online sales and cheese shops.

Have your heart-shaped Baron Bigods been popular for Valentine's Day this year?

The sales have been ridiculous! We have not been able to keep up with demand and will definitely be making more next year.

Do you have any exciting plans coming up around the farm or on the cheese front?

We are setting up a bigger dispatch building this year and creating different maturing rooms to give more flexibility on the age profile of the cheese we are selling.