Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Terry English with English Farmstead Cheese is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
Growing up, dairy farming was all Terry English knew. In 1800, his grandfather started farming cows, chickens, pigs and even a few apple trees. “It was mostly survival farming at the time,” Terry said, “he started with about four or five cows and had no idea that ninety years later we would still be here farming.” English Farmstead Cheese originally raised Jersey cattle but eventually switched to mostly Holsteins, due to their high milking yields. Today the farm has a herd of about 160 cattle.
A typical day on the farm starts around 4 a.m. with Terry milking and feeding the cattle. “We never get bored and it’s truly a family affair,” Terry said, “my dad still comes in every morning and cleans the barns for us while I need to do whatever needs to be done in the fields.” Similar to the morning chores, Terry’s afternoon also consists of milking and feeding the cattle.
Terry’s wife, Susan, however, spends her day in the cheese making and aging room. Four days a week you can find her here making their famous cheese products from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Milk is brought from the barn to the pasteurizing room within two to three hours of milking. “We have four cheese recipes, that I developed, that we use on a regular basis,” Susan said, “I taught myself how to make it as a hobby and it ended up being a mid-life crisis turned right.”
Today, the farm sells about ten varieties of chesses, with their best sellers being cheddar, cheese curds, and their personal variety, Buttercup. Products from their farm can be found at their farm stand on site in Marion as well as the Weaver Street Market and small retail stores in Asheville, Boone and Charlotte areas. Their on-site farm stand is open two days a week, Friday and Saturday, and sells a variety of products from local farmers from Western N.C., including pork, eggs and beef.
Although the uncertainty, weather and labor can be challenging, Susan and Terry both experience immense joy from seeing a new calf being born and hearing customers compliment their products. “It’s the intangible assets that make it worth it and keep us going,” Terry said. In addition to milking and cheese making, the English’s enjoy educating visitors to their farm on the dairy industry. “We take a lot of things for granted that people don’t know about our industry,” Susan said, “so we do a lot of teaching to inquiring customers that visit our on-site farm stand.”
Terry’s biggest goal for the future is to keep the farm in operation until 2026 so it will have been in family operation for 100 years. When they are not farming, they enjoy taking the scenic route along the Blue Ridge Parkway or a quiet night at home with Hershey bars and wine.