Farmstead farewell

RIP Orland Farmstead Creamery co-founder Paul Schmidt, plus funds for Fido, and see ya soon

A year and a half ago or so, I had the opportunity to get a private tour of Orland Farmstead Creamery. Anyone who knows me knows I love cheese, so getting an inside look at the process, from cow to the table, was both fascinating and fun. I knew there was a science behind it all, but seeing how much work really goes into each batch—not only making the end product taste good and reach the proper temperatures for safe serving, but also maintaining consistency—gave me a new appreciation for the craft.

While on the farm, my tour guide led me out to one of the pastures where the cows were grazing. It was a hot day, I remember, and as we made our way back toward the barn, we saw a half dozen piglets running around inside one of the pens that lines the entry to the milking room. They were ridiculously cute. We bottle-fed a young calf. And I met Paul Schmidt, one of the creamery’s founders, hard at work tending to the farm’s daily chores.

Schmidt was a third-generation dairyman who bought the property in Orland in 1977. He teamed up with Valerie Miller in 2012 and they formed the creamery. Their cheeses, all soft, are both unique and delicious. The ricottage—a cross between ricotta and cottage cheese—is divine. I eat it plain, but it adds an unexpected yet perfect finishing touch to dishes like Crush’s bolognese (plus, insider tip: Order it on the side at Grana anytime).

Sadly, Schmidt died suddenly this past weekend. Miller posted a message on social media saying, among other things, that “I believe he died doing what he loved—caring for his dairy cattle.” She says the future of the creamery is unknown at this time, but to stay tuned for updates as well as memorial details. I think I speak for many local cheese lovers when I say that Schmidt will be missed, as he has played a part in many a delicious meal, and that I wish Miller and the rest of the farm the best.

Giving I’m a sucker for a feel-good story, and a double-sucker for animals, especially dogs. So I was happy to hear that this past October’s Walk Woof Wag event raised a substantial amount of moola for the Chico and Paradise Animal Shelters. The event was started in 2014 by Bryce Velasco, then an eighth-grader at Marsh Junior High. Seeing young people start things that grow real legs is awesome. It’s now sponsored by Friends of the Chico Animal Shelter, Canine Connection and the North Valley Community Foundation and, with final numbers tallied, it raised $20,000 for the two shelters. Way to go!

Break time For the next few weeks, you may not see my smiling face on this page, and I apologize in advance for not keeping you all up to date on local business happenings. But do not fear—I’m taking a short hiatus to tend to some family issues and promise to be back at it in a few weeks.