“My dad grew up a city boy but he always just loved animals,” says Joe Shultz. “When he was a kid, he worked for a guy who milked about eight or ten cows and my dad peddled the milk around the community.” Joe, the second oldest of four boys, inherited his father’s love of animals fostered by growing up on his parents’ small dairy. Today, Joe and his wife, Sue, run their farm with the help of son, Bronson. It is called Ara-Kuh after the original family farm in Arabia, New York and the German word for cow, “kuh.”
Like his father, Joe went to college to study agriculture and thought he’d follow his dad into co-op extension work, but after working for five years for the USDA, he decided to focus back exclusively on farming. “It was good to travel around and see a lot of different types of farms,” he says, noting that it helped him focus on how farming worked best for him. “I always thought to stay smaller and make more margin per cow, to be able to do it without hired help, to keep it just family.”
Shultz Family Cheese was born in a converted room in the milk house when Sue decided to try making fresh cheese curds with some of the herd’s milk. She grew up farming and had worked in some local dairy processing plants but, her husband says, “She was always much happier and felt healthier when she came back to milk on the farm.” The farm’s nuggets of noshable “fresh and squeaky” cheese curd, as Joe describes them, are sold the day they’re made direct to devoted fans, to area retailers and also in special batches for local school groups and club fundraisers like 4-H and Future Farmers of America.