Making Cheese on an Organic Farm - Biohof Abraham

Stories from the Farm, 06.09.2021, Farm Holidays in Upper Austria

Flavours, aging times, ingredients - when it comes to sheep milk cheese, the Freudenthaler family plays in a different league. They turn fresh sheep’s milk into delicious products on their organic farm Biohof Abraham in Hirschbach im Mühlviertel, Upper Austria.

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Lämmer grasen auf der Weide auf einer Steinmauer | © Urlaub am Bauernhof Oberösterreich / Daniel Gollner

Experts on Sheep Milk

Set in Hirschbach, in the idyllic Mühlviertel region, the Freudenthaler family runs the organic farm Biohof Abraham. Fresh sheep’s milk is turned into delicious products here. Manuela is a real expert when it comes to sheep milk cheese. And she’s a passionate farmer too! But it has not always been like that.

Would You Like to Become a Farmer?

"Would you like to become a farmer?" When she was young, Manuela Freudenthaler would have laughed out loud at this question. She chose to go for an apprenticeship in the hospitality industry and became a professional cook and waitress. During her training, she met her future husband Ernst. It was him who was supposed to take over the farm of his parents. Soon, it became clear for the young couple that they would turn their ideas into reality on the family farm. "It was the right decision", Manuela says as she thinks back. Back in the year 2002, the "Biohof Abraham" was a traditional dairy farm. But this was about to change. Manuela and Ernst continued to be employed in their original jobs until the first kids were on the way. At this time, they came to the point at which they had to ask themselves: How do we want to go on? It didn’t seem profitable enough to invest in a modern cow barn. In the end, they decided to strike a new path.

It’s Got to Be Sheep Milk

They thought about producing either goat or sheep milk. But goat milk did not quite please Manuela’s taste buds. That’s why they decided to raise merino sheep on their farm, producing meat. But the development of their new economic activity was rather sluggish. So, they got 80 East Friesians instead. From that day on, these dairy sheep have called the organic farm "Biohof Abraham" their home. "In the beginning, we produced 1,000 litres of milk per week and sold it to two customers."

As it’s the case elsewhere, demand determines the supply. A dairymen from Melk gave them the advice to build a private dairy and produce sheep milk cheese themselves. And this is what the Freudenthaler family did. At this early stage, they already succeeded in making blue cheese from their sheep’s milk.

"People liked our products", Manuela remembers. Meanwhile, they’ve created a cheese-making facility with two cheese caves, a farm shop and a room for cheese tastings. They manufacture a diverse range of cheeses. And they like trying all kinds of variations by adding chili, pepper, fenugreek seeds or by simply keeping it natural If you love sheep milk cheese, you will definitely find your favourite here. 30 to 50 kg of cheese are produced per week, the majority being hard cheese.

Guests on the Farm

However, Manuela didn’t want to quit the hospitality industry altogether. Apart from making cheese, she also accommodates guests. She started renting out holiday apartments on the farm 15 years ago. Her guests enjoy the silence and tranquility here. They are also interested in learning how sheep milk cheese is produced. Especially the parents enjoy some rest and relaxation. Children can join the farmers in the barn, get to know the animals and feed them. "Sometimes, the kids even get up at 6 am to help us with the daily milking", Manuela says. "They are so excited when they see the milk flowing out of the teat. That’s their highlight!"

Manuela has a mission: She’d like to give others an understanding of agriculture and to produce good food in an authentic way. You can see that she means it! A holiday on the organic farm Biohof Abraham in Hirschbach im Mühlviertel (Upper Austria) is a treat for all your senses, at any time of the year.

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