Tucked on the outskirts of New Windsor, Shepherds Manor Creamery is the first sheep dairy in Maryland, making artisan cheeses and delicate soaps from their sheep’s milk, which they sell at special events such as The Maryland Wine Festival in Westminster Sept. 15 and 16.
Ten years ago, owners Colleen and Michael Histon couldn’t have guessed that the farm and cheese making business would be in their future. When their children were in 4-H, it was normal to have a few market lambs, of the meat variety, or a dairy heifer in their 2.5-acre back yard in Mount Airy. Once the kids got older and moved on, Colleen continued to raise a few lambs as a personal source of meat, and even got into showing them at the local fairs.
But a trip to Napa Valley, Calif., in 2004 got the Histons thinking about raising sheep in a different way. They were at a farmers market with Colleen’s sister when a cheese monger got Michael’s attention and started telling him about how easy and profitable it was to make cheese from sheep’s milk.
The man told Michael that only 1 percent of the sheep cheese in the United States comes from the United States and there is a huge market for it.