At-Home at Mecox Bay Dairy Farm with Art & Stacy Ludlow
In between the hedges and houses in Water Mill, magical Mecox Bay Dairy farm is where Jersey cows roam free, turkeys gobble at any visitors stopping by, and artisan cheese is aging in a chilly cheese chamber. KDHamptons shares a tour inside the working dairy and learns more about this modern farming family in this exclusive new diary below:
The Ludlows don’t stop at just cheese. They sell grass fed beef, pastured pork, and tasty turkeys. Art raises 250 turkeys every year for Thanksgiving. One of their most notable turkey-buyers was Jackie O. If you want a turkey, you better reserve one because they sell out every year. Four generations ago, Art’s great-grandfather, Gurden, began growing crops on the property in 1875. Art and his wife Stacy grew potatoes until 2002, and then they decided to switch to dairy. They bought three Jersey cows while Art began taking cheese-making classes and soon enough Mecox Bay Dairy began to create quite the buzz. In just one year, Art’s Mecox Sunrise won second place in the Washed Rind category in the American Cheese Society competition.
A Cornell grad, Art Ludlow religiously plays tennis at the Bridgehampton Tennis Club, while his wife Stacy is an avid horse rider and a local EMT. When the couple isn’t working on the farm, they love learning new dance moves. Their son, Pete [below], works with Art on the farm and plays classical piano, while their other son, John, is a professional jazz musician.
Cheeses are aged for different lengths of time before they are wrapped and labeled [below] and sent off to all of the fantastic farm stands and gourmet food shops in the Hamptons.
When asked which cheese is his favorite, Art replies, “Whichever one I am eating at the moment.” Art has created five different cheeses using only the most natural processes, with no chemicals added:
* A traditional Farmhouse Cheddar that is typically aged around 7 months with a slight sweetness rather than sharp.
* Sigit cheese [named after his mother’s nickname] is a flavorful hard cheese that ages over a year and tastes like a gruyere.
* The Mecox Sunrise has a washed rind, a tad smoky, and creamy.
* Shawondasee has a nutty flavor that pairs well with fruit.
* Lastly, the Atlantic Mist is soft, tangy, and similar to a Camembert.
The Ludlows own over 40 cows, milking 17 Jersey cows twice a day with the help of only one employee, Claes Cassel. Why only Jersey cows? They have a better protein to butterfat ratio than other cows and are not given bovine growth hormones. The milking room is run on a tight, organized schedule with a “master milking schedule” listing the names of each cow, and when they are up next. Their names include: Clara Belle, Mannix Sprinkle, Chocolate Valentine, Alf Aspen, and Cinnamon Miles.
You can find Mecox Bay Dairy products at: The Green Thumb farm stand in Watermill, Country Gardens in Bridgehampton, The Milk Pail in Watermill, Fairview Farms in Bridgehampton, and farmers markets in Sag Harbor, Southampton, Westhampton, and Montauk. You can also try their cheese plate at the new Fresh restaurant in Bridgehampton!
For more information or to order cheese online, go to www.mecoxbaydairy.com. *Photography by Kelli Delaney, unless otherwise noted.