The Crave Brothers—Charles, George, Tom and Mark Crave of Crave Brothers Farm, LLC and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese celebrate Wisconsin’s June Dairy Month by engaging in business as usual. That’s because the Crave Brothers, including their three additional partners—Charlie’s sons Jordan and Andy, and George’s son Patrick—are committed to working all day, every day, to continue their artisanal tradition. Making award-winning cheeses such as Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Farmers Rope String Cheese and Cheddar Cheese Curds starts with the cows.
June is when the Crave family plants corn, feeds calves, milks cows, repairs equipment, generates electricity and makes cheese. Actually, the cycle never ends and goes on 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Crave Brothers Farm produces more than 3.5 semi tanks of milk per day and feeds 3,200 head of cattle a total of 159 tons of feed per day. The methane digester produces one semi load of dried fibers for bedding, along with 635 Kw of electricity that goes onto the grid. In season, 3,000 acres of crops are planted, tended to and harvested along with other seasonal jobs such as building improvements and construction. All the while, the Crave family is engaging in sustainable farming practices, providing individualized cow care, and innovating to improve their operation. Currently, they’re building a new rotary milking parlor.
Long-term employees display the same level of commitment and enthusiasm as members of the Crave Family. Making cheese at the farmstead cheese making facility starts with milk from the family’s own dairy herd. Herd Superintendent Patrick Crave is one of the current seven owners of Crave Brothers. He enjoys working with the cows every day, especially the dairy show cattle. “We have our district cow show in June—it’s the best month of the year. June is when we recognize the farmers and dairy producers who work hard year-round so that our consumers can have high quality dairy products on their dinner tables.” His own favorite cheese is Crave Brothers Farmers Rope. “It is the perfect snack cheese, and comes in a fun rope coil,” he says.
General Manager Mark Crave has invested 32 years in the family business. His favorite childhood June Dairy Month memory is having a 4-H display at the First National Bank in Beloit. While he enjoys working with cattle at every stage of their lives—calves, heifers or cows—the latter are his favorite age. “When cows are fully grown, you can really see their full potential, their health traits, milk production, and their full dairy style.”
Longtime Crave Brothers employee, Operations Manager James Schultz, has been working on the farm since 1988, and continues to enjoy being outdoors every day. He says if he were to be any dairy cow breed, he would choose to be a Holstein or Jersey cow. “They are both beautiful animals, and Jersey cows have a fun, goofy personality.”
Herdsman Pablo Bazquez not only enjoys his work, he enjoys the people he works with, and also the cows. “I enjoy working with cows at all ages. They all have different personalities and characteristics. Calves are curious and full of life. Heifers are like teenagers, still curious but are more understanding of their environment. Cows are intelligent and like to be on a schedule; they are routine animals.” Bazquez’s favorite June Dairy Month product is cheese—in particular, Crave Brothers Cheddar Cheese Curds. “Cheese is easy to have in different recipes with my family and friends,” he says.
During June Dairy Month, remember Wisconsin dairy farmers’ commitment to excellence. When you share some of your favorite Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, your enjoyment is the best form of thanks.
For more information about the Crave Brothers and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, including videos highlighting the Crave Brothers’ sustainability practices, visit www.cravecheese.com.