Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Honeysuckle Lane Cheese

Springtime in Arkansas is beautiful. My children and I took advantage of a beautiful day and drove about an hour from Little Rock to Rose Bud to visit a raw milk cheese maker.  For about two years I've been telling Ray (Sr.) at the Argenta Farmer's Market I wanted to visit and see how the cheese is made.  
Raymond and Ray Daley - I asked them to say "cheese"
The farm, Honeysuckle Lane, got its name from the honeysuckles that grow on the lane that leads to their farm.  Sadly the flowers are not yet in bloom.
Ray Sr. lives about 20 minutes from the farm and drives to Rose Bud about one a week to help make cheese.  Raymond Jr. lives close by, is a police officer, and milks the cows twice a day - he's a busy man!  In peak cheese season they make cheese twice a week.  The milk not used to make cheese they sell to be pasteurized.
Once inside, we saw a huge vat of curds and whey...just like Little Miss Muffet's.  The paddle needed to stir a bit longer so we took a tour.
Inside a walk-in refrigerator we feasted our eyes on CHEESE!!  This below cheese has been cured and cut to half pound portions and is waiting to make it to your table.
This is a picture of the full "horns" that are curing for 60 days.
This is one of the Daley Dairy babies.  They raise Jersey cows, that provide the most milk fat - which makes yummy cheese.
I also saw the milking parlor but didn't take pictures.

Back inside it was time to drain the whey.
I asked how they knew when it was time to pull the plug and separate the whey, Raymond Jr. showed me.  "It's when you can squeeze it and it sticks together like this."
Once the whey was drained, they began sort of packing the curds.  I say sort of packing because like most foods worth eating, it takes time and is a bit of a process.  They weren't cramming the curds together but the process was methodical and obvious they had done it a few hundred times.
My 7.5 year old son got a real kick out of saying, "They're cutting the cheese, Mom!"
After 15 or 20 minutes they flipped over the big blocks of cheese to let more whey drain and gravity to do its thing and push the curds together.
At this point we said goodbye because my toddler wasn't nearly as interested in the process as I was.  I could have stayed a LOT longer.  As I understand it, the Daley men will stack the cheese cubes, then cut them into one-inch cubes using a press.  Then the cheese goes into molds to make the horns (shown refrigerated, above).

Before leaving we were sure to take home lots of cheese.
Honeysuckle Lane cheese can be purchased from the Local Food Club, Little Rock Athletic Club, or at the Argenta Farmer's Market (opening Day April 14).

See also GreerAR by the Day's blog post on her visit to the farm.


  1. wondering if they would allow others to come visit?

  2. Kristina,
    I'm sure they would. I would recommend you going by the Argenta Farmers Market on April 14 (or Saturdays there after) and introducing yourself to Mr. Daley (Sr.). He wears a hearing aid and it is best to talk with him in person. I can give you his cell number if you don't want to go to the market. My email is luvmyhub AT gmail DOT com