I tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather this past weekend and get a few things done around the house. I cleaned up a little, bought some groceries and household items, but I still felt like I was wasting the rare, sunny weather. So, I got ready and decided to find an outdoor activity to do.
I contemplated our local parks, but something was telling me I needed to drive a little further and do something I normally don’t get to experience. I began searching for open farm hours or farm shops within an hour or two that I could jump on the interstate and get to soon. While searching online, I remembered a place that I had wanted to visit last year but did not get the chance, Dayspring Dairy in Gallant, just below Attalla, is Alabama’s only sheep dairy farm that produces sheep milk products.
The family owned and operated farm is run by Greg and Ana Kelly, who moved to the area in 2011. Their work has now been highlighted by National Public Radio (NPR), The New York Times, Southern Living, Taste of the South and many other publications, and they have been recognized by the American Cheese Society.
When we think of dairy, rarely do we think of sheep milk, which is what makes this place so unique.
I immediately headed that way and arrived in just over an hour. I was greeted by rolling hills filled with sheep of all different colors and three very large dogs that keep watch. Ana came in from milking and took me on a tour of the entire process where I got to meet the newborn lambs, see the milking room, pasteurization process and the creamery. In their shop, I was able to have a cheese and jam tasting and pick out what I wanted to take home. The tour was free and I got to take photos and was given a special on the products I bought.
I was blown away by what this family produces in such a small facility with little help. Even their teenage daughter was working in the creamery that day, preparing the fresh milk for cheese.
After driving over an hour to find this extremely unique, tranquil place, I learned from Ana that some of their cheeses are sold here in DeKalb County at the Mentone Market. We really do live in a great area that highlights many talented farmers and producers.
We all need to get away sometimes, and for me, seeing a place like this made my weekend infinity better, not to mention how it feels getting to hold a newborn lamb in your arms.
If you decide to visit Dayspring Dairy, be sure to call ahead at 205-677-5800 because the store is by appointment only. Their website, www.dayspringdairy.com, has lots of other information about what they offer.
Emily Kirby is a staff writer for the Times-Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.