Sarah Mauthe (pictured in black) is a farmer and the next generation of Mauthe's Progress Milk Barn (www.mauthefarms.blogspot.com; www.facebook.com/mauthesprogressmilkbarn), a small dairy operation in Progress, Mississippi, just 100 miles outside of New Orleans. Along with her sister Katie and mother Jamie, the Mauthe women are self-described "milk ladies" and create cheeses, milk, butter and cheesecakes. Sarah spoke with Gambit about growing up on the farm and their business.
What is the daily schedule like on the farm?
Mauthe: Our farm is a small dairy operation located just outside of Progress, Mississippi, on about 40 acres 3 miles from the Louisiana line. My sister and I are fourth-generation farmers, my dad Kenny is a third-generation farmer and we're all family here on the farm. We start in the morning milking our 42 Jersey-Holstein cross cows. After that, we pasteurize our milk and bottle it. Our milk is unique in that it's a pasteurized, non-homogenized milk where the cream rises to the top. We offer quite a few additional dairy products: yogurt, cream, buttermilk, soft cheeses, a farmhouse cheddar and a Creole cream cheese, which we also use to make our cheesecakes.
The cheesecakes came about because we were selling the Creole cream cheese at the farmers market in New Orleans and we had a customer who came up to us and asked if we had ever made a cheesecake with the cream cheese. So, from there, my mom started doing it. They've been very popular.
What role have farmers markets played in your development?
M: The farmers market where we originally started out was the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans. Once a month now we go to that market on Tuesdays, and on Thursdays we're in McComb at our local farmers market, and Saturdays we're at the Jackson (Mississippi) market and in Covington on the Northshore.
Farmers markets have been really wonderful to us. We've built a huge following and have so many loyal customers who we see every week and who have become good friends. The New Orleans market hasn't been doing as well for us lately, but we've been able to pick up some of the same customers through Good Eggs and Hollygrove Market. We're really thankful for them.
We also work very hard to keep a green mindset. We don't use any chemical fertilizers on our grass. We use our own whey that we derive from the cheese to spray back on our fields. All of our practices are very green and focused on being environmentally friendly.
It's so nice at the end of the week, after working 16-hour days on the farm, to go to the farmers market and hear how people are enjoying the milk and cheeses. It just makes it all worthwhile.
What's the best part of working on a dairy farm?
M: My favorite time is in the morning when the sun is rising and it's a new day on the farm and I'm out there milking. My dad, sister and I take turns rotating mornings and milking, but I just love it. There's more beauty in it than I could ever explain without really seeing it with your own eyes. It's a promise of the new day. I feel refreshed and excited about what we're going to do for the new day. It's where my heart is, and it's what I love to do the most.