On the farm
Cait and Kyle White started Milkhouse Farm and Dairy in 2010 after earning their science degrees in university. Glover photo
by Kory Glover
AgriNews Staff Writer
SMITH FALLS – Cait and Kyle White of Milkhouse Farm and Dairy can be found each week at the Landsdowne Market, selling their own product of cheese and lamb meat.
However, owning a farm wasn’t always their end goal.
Cait was always interested in science through high school, so it seemed only natural to pursue a career path going into university. However, she was not expecting to use her degree for a career in farming.
“Science always interested me, so it seemed like a natural career choice for university,” she said. “However, I was definitely not expecting to farm when I started school. But the further you become a young adult and you get further away from your teenage years, you kind of realize what your interests are. My interests started going towards local food and it seemed like a good fit.”
Kyle’s story is fairly similar to his wife’s in that he had an interest in science because it was one of his best subjects in high school but felt that his passion didn’t leave a great path of career options.
“I went into the sciences because that’s what I was good in high school but very quickly realized that the job prospects in that field weren’t exactly going to suit me,” he said. “I realized that I wanted more of a hands-on kind of career.”
After both Cait and Kyle finished university, earning degrees in science, they decided they didn’t want to go the traditional career route. They decided that they wanted to move back home to work more closely with local food, eventually opening Milkhouse Farm and Dairy in 2010.
“We were looking for jobs that we could do in a small town since we both grew up in Smith Falls,” said Cait. “So, we were interested in moving back home and getting into local food. While we were in university, we had a CSA basket from the farmers market in Kingston and I’ve got several family members in organic farming as well.”
Cait added that sheep’s cheese was an interesting and unique way of getting into the business.
“It seemed like something a little different, it takes advantage of our science background on the cheese-making side of things,” she said.
Kyle added that sheep cheese isn’t the only practice that they run at their farm, they also offer a “fairly big freezer order trade,” selling frozen cuts of lamb meat.
“We sell about 140 lambs a year as frozen cuts at the farmers market and bulk freezer order throughout the winter,” he said. “We also do some wool bedding, like wool duvets and yarn.
Both Cait and Kyle follow certain organic practices but admit that they are not certified-organic.
“We do follow a lot of organic practices, but we are not certified-organic. Any of the feeds we do bring on the farm are certified,” said Kyle. “We follow some of the organic rules such as drug withdrawals. Not being certified-organic was from our own philosophy to see land treated.”
Kyle continued, saying that they were really interested in rotational grazing, the act of maximizing the growth of forage by moving ruminant and non-ruminant herds to fresh rested areas.
“Both the dairy use and the lambs are rotationally grazed, trying to co-habitat the farm with the wild critters that are here,” he said. “There’s this species at risk program that we got involved with a couple years ago. Started maintaining habitats for some grassland birds.”
The couple like to keep their cheese making at a fairly small scale, with their biggest batch at 250 to 300 litres of milk maximum.
“It’s kind of a more traditional way of making cheese,” said Kyle. “We only process raw milk, so none of our cheese is made from pasteurized milk.”
Both Cait and Kyle continue to sell their products at the Landsdowne Farmers Market and welcome anyone to try their specialty sheep cheese. For more information on their farm, you can visit their website at www.milkhouse.ca.