Our home ... cozy? Not so much in winter.
The barn still stores the farm's hay, but is so much more ...
home to some great foot-stomping music ...
and fun for all ages.
The old granary re-purposed to host tours and tastings, special events ...
and our retail shop (aka farmstand).
We built our new aging room with history in mind, but ...
with views like this, it's visitor friendly too.
Iggy enjoying the tender, early-spring grasses after a long winter of dry hay.
Rockhill Creamery resides on what is
known as the James & Amy Burnham Farmstead. The farm was listed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and received the Utah
Heritage Foundation "Best Adaptive Use" award in 2007. And recently, we were thrilled to accept The National Trust for Historic Preservation 2011 "Honor Award."
The farmstead is located in the town
Richmond on a rocky hillside in Utah's beautiful Cache Valley. It came
into being circa 1893 with the completion of the farmhouse—a two-story,
victorian-ecclectic, all-brick building still serving as our home. The
home was built by James Burnham, a long-time Richmond resident and
highly skilled mason.
The second-oldest building on the
property is the hay barn, circa 1915, also believed to be built by
Burnham. The rest of the farm's structures were built over several
decades by the property's second resident/owner, Willis Erickson.
Erickson purchased the property in
the late 1920's and began to build on what had been a subsistance
farming operation for the Burnham family. In addition to working
for Union Pacific and milking several cows, Erickson built a thriving
egg business culminating in the late 1950's with more than 7,000 laying
hens housed on the property.
Erickson built the large granary to store and process feed for his own operation and several neighboring egg producers.
By the mid -1970's the property began
to fall into disrepair. Erickson died in 1984 leaving it to his niece.
We puchased the farmstead in 1986 and have been working to restore and
maintain it ever since. After bringing the home up to a minimum
standard of livibilty, we turned to shoring up what was left of the
Over the next 15 years we tried
several different ways to have the farmstead pay for itself. We
converted many of the buildings and property into a heifer-calf raising
operation. But with the continued consolidation of the dairy industry,
we found ourselves just too small to survive.
By 2001 we had settled on opening a farmstead cheese business. So we began to repurpose all of the buildings to that end. The large coop was too-far gone when we first purchased the farm and thus demolished soon after. However, it's
foundation and floor were used for our milking corral, complete with
loafing stalls, calving pens and the milk parlor itstelf.
What was the egg-cooling building has
been repurposed into our cheese parlor. The granary now serves as our
farmstand/retail shop. And the hay barn still stores our alfalfa, but
also contributes to hosting special events, including our town's farmers market.
A Creamery is born
We opened Rockhill Creamery in the spring of 2005 and have been making use of every corner of the farmstead ever since.
In 2007 we constructed a new, under-ground, cheese-aging facility,
complete with an outside ramp and viewing window for our visitors to
enjoy. We stayed with the farmstead's theme and copied the inside/out
style of the granary on the above ground portion of the aging room.
We make approximately 200 pounds of cheese per week — year-around. All the milk we use to make that cheese comes from our six, pampered and spoiled Brown Swiss cows.
We have three sets of
mothers/daughters that were all born and raised here on the farm. In
addition, we always have some heifers and heifer calves of various ages
doing their best to become part of the herd.
The girls eat
only the finest alfalfa, some rolled corn and barley and all the grass
they want ... when it's not covered with snow! Hence the term "hearty cheese from hardy cows."