Stealthily leaving her house long before dawn, the rural Texas grass still wet with dew, 17-year old Erica would meet her boyfriend (and future husband) Jared Veldhuizen and drive to the 5:15 a.m. milking at his parents’ dairy farm.
“The cows have it easy,” she recalls. “They roam in big pastures and they’d recognize us. They knew Jared was their best friend.”
The members of the Veldhuizen family, on the other hand, don’t have it easy. There’s always something to do – seeding the pastures, making the cheese, chasing down runaway cows – and they work straight through ‘til evening, milking 12 hours later.
“And there are no holidays,” says Erica. “But I fell in love with the farm life. Jared was the answer to my prayers.”
It’s not an ordinary farm: Veldhuizen cheeses have won many well-deserved awards. Made from raw milk so heat doesn’t damage the delicate proteins, the cheeses are aged in “the cave,” an underground room dug into a hillside, for anywhere between 2 months to 5 years.
There are so many cheeses to choose from. There’s Paragon, aged for three months. Then Redneck Cheddar, made with stout from a microbrewery and aged 18 months or longer. There are sheep’s milk cheeses, too.
When the Veldhuizens moved to Tulsa, they decided to open a shop selling their family cheeses, along with charcuterie plates and wine. It’s also an event center – you can have your wedding there. Sadly, Jared died a few months ago, but his brother Jesse has moved up from Texas and Veldy’s has carried on the legacy.
“Our family all works together to make something beautiful,” says Erica. “And we’re proud of our cheese; it’s so good and it’s ethically made. And when I say we all work, that includes the cows. They’re part of our family.” 2439 E. 11th St., Tulsa; veldystulsa.com