Cheese Lovers Newsletter (11.29.2020): Cow Vaccines

Cheese Lovers Newsletter (11.29.2020): Cow Vaccines

Happy Sunday, Cheese Lovers!

Hope you had a great weekend with family via Zoom, Skype, Teams or even in-person interaction. Like you, we’ve had COVID amongst our family and friends. It is a nerve-wracking time, especially dependent on their age and condition. We appreciate those who got out of their home to shop our store this weekend and were so respectful to our employees (that’s everyone! No bad apples this weekend 😊).

We also appreciate those who are ordering delivery or for takeout. It is an odd time. The current Executive Order explicitly forbids outdoor farm tours and obviously restaurant service, so we will continue with our 12 to 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday hours until conditions return to a point where the rules can be lifted.

In the cheese plant… No More Munster makes – get it fast ☹
We’ve ended our cheese makes for the holidays a couple weeks ago, and went through our one- and two-day cheese make weeks the past two weeks. But this week, we’re back to three-days-a-week cheesemaking. We’ll make St. Anthony, Little Lucy Brie, Lucky Linda Cave-Aged Cheddar and Ridiculously Good Cheddar Cheese Curds this week. North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster is done being made for the year until we can turn the heater off again in the cave. But we still have one batch in the aging room. We have available what is available… so order now.

Have no fear, it will be back in the spring as the weather warms up – our in-floor eat caves would dry the cheese out too fast. We’ve officially shifted this bad boy (2018 MN State Fair Winner and 2021 Good Food Awards Finalist) to semi-SEASONAL status.

This is a big deal for us as when you’re a fledgling cheesemaker you try to make whatever you can whenever you can make it. At a certain point, you learn what is made best which time of year for your milk, temperature and humidity conditions, and in an ideal word we are making cheeses for the season they should be made. This is also more fun for our retailers as they can anticipate the next batch. So, say so-long North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster for 2020 – until we meet again in 2021.

Cheese Routes: Back to the MSP
We’ll be heading to the MSP metro this week, Wednesday, December 2. We did end up stopping our Thanksgiving orders due to time and distance so order now, even for Christmas if you know what you need. We’ve now “zoned” our delivery areas so only those available to you will show up. If you believe you’re just a few miles outside our delivery area, give us an email and we’ll see if we can fit you in.

As a reminder, our Cheese Van goes right to your door, as does UPS, of course. Or, you can order for takeout here, or come to the store, Friday or Saturday 12 noon to 2:30 p.m.

Some personal news – we are Farm Bureau Excellence in Ag Award Finalists

It pains us to include this self-promotion, but an industry expert once told us dairy farmers do a really bad job talking about ourselves. In the original instance pointing this out, the person noted we did not even mention our national dairy awards on our tour at the time. Oops!

So, without any further ado, Alise and Lucas were elated to find out we will be representing the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation at the national competition in the Excellence in Agriculture Award. What’s this mean?

Late Monday night (way past our bedtime, if we’re honest) we competed in a virtual presentation competition after submitting a written application weeks earlier. We came out on top and will head to the virtual national convention to try to come home with prizes to include a new pickup, mid-sized tractor, or tools. We want to thank the judges and Minnesota Farm Bureau for putting on the competition, and to Farm Bureau generally for all they’ve done for us and for farmers.

The competitors are evaluated on their understanding of agricultural issues, leadership experiences and achievement, and their ability to communicate their agricultural story. Participants were judged on their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability, involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Full press release is here (

Question of the week: With vaccines in the news – do farm animals get vaccines?
First of all – thank you, what a wonderful and timely question. Second of all, yes! All farms have a vaccine protocol, whether that’s zero vaccines or many – most are somewhere in-between. Because farmers are able to calculate return-on-investment from these vaccines as they fit into their management, it is actually very easy to calculate if the vaccine price is worth the risk (like when you go to the doctor, vaccines can stress animals out).
Just like in the human world, cow vaccines go through several rounds of computer-simulated modeling and theory before being tried on animals. Often first on the smallest animal “model” (often mice) and eventually on the target animal (in our case, cows). This speeds things up, as many animals are both cheaper to feed and have shorter reproductive cycles than our cows do (yes, mice are mammals so they also give milk after having their young. No, we’ve never had the opportunity to milk one.).

But to the question – there are dozens (but not hundreds) of applicable dairy cattle vaccines. Depending on what disease pressure you have in your area, you can choose what you want in your management system. There are some multi-component vaccines, some that require two or three shots, intranasal vaccines (no shots!), vaccines we give to cows that also protect their calves that are en utero (a fetus in the uterus) and those that you only give if you have a major problem (like rabies or some of our extreme foreign animal diseases that are, thankfully, rare). But, in recent years we’ve learned that our management on our own farm and all farms has improved so much that we need fewer vaccines. In fact, Dr. Joe Armstrong at the UMN is advocating that if you do five other things very well, you don’t need as many vaccinations to your calves as previously recommended. (

Like all things, there are tradeoffs. You may have facilities or a labor shortage that don’t allow you to get the things done that are recommended, so more vaccines are necessary.

If you’ve been on our farm tour, you’ve likely learned that we give an “extra” vaccine compared to many farms developed by Dr. Bangs for tuberculosis. We don’t have the disease, and hope to never have it, but it allows us to more easily sell our cattle genetics as that opportunity arises.

One final fun fact, the root word "vaca" as many know is Spanish for "cow." When they were looking for a solution to smallpox, they saw that the milking maids were immune for some reason (they had been inoculated by the related cowpox disease). Long story short, vaccines were invited.

This NPR:Planet Money story ( or the lengthy book Guns, Germs and Steel lay it out quite well, but the point is that the cows saved the world! We hope they can also save Christmas in the form of some excellent cheese.

Thanks for the question… until next time!

Lucas, Alise, Jerry and Linda

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