The Callahan Family
In her mid-fifties, Cindy Callahan left a career in nursing to begin tending sheep and raising lambs initially used for brush and grass control. Following the suggestion of a friend to milk the sheep turned her on to the potential of running a sheep dairy farm.
To this day Cindy assists in the delivery of nearly every lamb on their farm. Using traditional methods studied by visiting cheese makers in Italy, Cindy’s son Liam makes every pound of cheese produced by Bellwether Farms.
Ewes are milked until the end of November and have their lambs in January and February. Cheese is made daily, year-round.
Cindy finds being around sheep and making cheese both soothing and rewarding. The sheep are pastured and always outside. No herbicides, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers are used. Cindy says, “we use the highest quality milk available to make the best cheese possible.”
The sheep of Bellwether Farms are a Northern European breed called East Friesian. They are taller than ordinary sheep and are known for their long pointed ears.
Cow’s milk comes from the Jersey cows of a nearby dairy. The milk of Jersey cows has a higher fat and protein count than that of Holsteins.
The mild temperatures of Sonoma are ideal for producing some of the richest and sweetest milk in the country.
They have started making yogurt.
Length of relationship with Oliveto
34 acres in southwestern Sonoma County between Petaluma and Bodega Bay
Cow’s Milk Cheese (80% of production): Carmody, Carmody Reserve, Crescenza
Sheep’s Milk Cheese: San Andreas, Pepato
Fresh: Fromage Blanc, Créme Fraîche, Ricotta
Lambs are sold in the spring
60% of income comes from retail sales. They also sell directly to restaurants.
Marin – Sundays
Santa Rosa – Saturday
Davis – Saturday