As most of you begin to find your feet and rhythm again after the hustle and bustle of a hectic Christmas, Sirana Gligora’s busiest production season was starting in early January as the first trickles of sheep milk began to flow through the dairy doors.
Following the recent blog about the methods of cheese production, we’re now going to follow the milk all the way through from milking, production and the curing and aging process to see how Paški Sir develops over its maturation period. At this time of year on the Island of Pag, the lambs are beginning to be weaned from the ewe’s milk and the farmers begin to milk the sheep for cheese production. As mentioned previously, Sirana Gligora have their own sheep and also help support this most traditional island practice by buying milk from over 150 small family farmers across the island. One of these farmers who has been supplying milk to Sirana Gligora for 15 years is a man called Mađar who kindly invited me out one morning to witness the milking of the Pag sheep.Mađar has been farming sheep since his childhood having learnt the trade from his father and fathers father before that, a livelihood that is obviously in his blood as he expertly guides his flock though the hold to the milking house. No need for a sheepdog in these parts.Each day from 1st of January to the middle of June, Mađar and hundreds like him across the island will rise every day at dawn come wind, rain or shine to milk his sheep, again repeated in the early evening. Although today it’s a picture of tranquility across the island as the first tastes of a spring sun bring promises of warmth, you can be sure that the winter Bura has yet to give up its hold of the winter.In this was Mađar milks his 15 ewes twice a day to bring in 15 liters at the height of the milking cycle in April/May. During the weaning period, the sheep will stay here on the hold but as the lambs are taken to slaughter the sheep will be put back out to pasture on the rocky hills to feed on the wild herbs.Here you can see the wild sage growing between the rocky pastures where the sheep will later graze and below are some of the grazing fields of Kolan with the Velibit mountain range in the background.
*Note to self: Don’t wear office shoes on my next forray into the sheep pens.
For the next installment on the From Ewe to You series and a chance to win a full wheel of Paški Sir click here.
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- The health benefits of sheep milk from the Island of Pag (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- Why do Pag sheep make great cheese? (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- Triple Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards for Sirana Gligora Paški Sir (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- Artisan Cheese, the making of Sirana Gligora Paški Sir 1. Setting the milk (paskisir.wordpress.com)
- Artisan Cheese, the making of Sirana Gligora Paški Sir (paskisir.wordpress.com)