Dwyer hits the road early on this Saturday
Paul Dwyer is familiar with rising with the sun as owner of Dwyer Milk Transport.
But the alarm clock rang a little earlier for Dwyer the morning of Saturday, July 27. Waiting in a bulk tank at Recreation Park in Tomah was nearly 5,000 pounds of milk (4,666 to be exact) waiting to be delivered to Nordic Creamery, outside Westby. The milk came from dairy cows at the Monroe County Fair this past weekend.
The milk would be shipped to Nordic Creamery and return to the fair approximately around noon as squeaky fresh cheese curds.
Dwyer backed a milk truck into the bulk tank sitting in the milk house at 3:45 a.m. He arrived at the creamery at 5:15 a.m. The project was now out of his hands in those of Nordic employees to prepare the milk into cheese curds. Nordic is owned by award winning cheesemaker Al Bekkum and his family. The farmstead has been in the family since 1917. Along with being farmers, they are cheesemakers.
Nordic Creamery helped the Monroe County Fair when it was facing a dilemma in 2018. A prior milk company that procured milk during the fair severed ties with the fair last year. Left with few options Nordic Creamery heard about the fair's dilemma and offered a proposal. The creamery would make the milk into cheese curds that would be delivered to the fair for same day purchase.
Dwyer stepped up to transport the milk, at no cost, to Nordic Creamery. Last year was the first for the trial arrangement. Cheese curds were sold from the fair office at $5 for a large bag. Fair organizers said curds sold fast.
This year, 600 bags of curds were sold from the fair office. Some were held back to sell at the livestock auction Saturday night. (From personal taste testing, the curds were squeaky fresh and well worth the wait).
They were expected to sell fast again. Milk shipped from the fair Sunday morning was used to make 1-pound cheese blocks. They will be cut and labeled as cheese from Monroe County Fair milk. Nordic will store the blocks so it can age before the cheese is sold.
Later Saturday, a little after noon, waiting outside the fair office (a bit impatiently) were Dwyer, Shae Fox (fair operations manager) and a few others for curds to arrive. They did eventually. Fox said Monroe County is the first fair in the state where its collected milk is made into same day cheese curds.