Paul Schmidt of Orland Farmstead Creamery, stokes the fire.

Paul Schmidt, a shy man of few words, heaves another log into the wood burning oven. It turns out that the water for washing the barn and pasteurization of milk is heated this way. No propane used here. It’s not a throw-back, as much as ingenuity.

I made a trip to visit three cheesemakers in the North Sacramento Valley, looking forward to a spring road trip. I found a thriving community of small dairies, including the industrious Orland Farmstead Creamery.

Paul Schmidt is a third generation dairyman and he has just 25-30 milking Holsteins. And one bull. And that bull, large as it is, will follow Paul wherever he goes.

Valerie Miller, who started out by teaching cheesemaking, is the cheesemaker and she also lives on the farm.

Valerie Miller and Paul Schmidt of Orland Farmstead Creamery

Valerie makes several fresh cheeses including Fromage Blanc, Feta, Queso Fresco, fresh Mozzarella packed in brine, and Ricotta, a cheese that lands somewhere between cottage cheese and ricotta. All cheeses are farmstead. Meaning the cheese is made from the milk of their own farm.

From April-September, tours are held on the 4th Saturday of the month. If you’re looking to see how a small farm works, this is the place to visit. Book a tour now.