The farm was founded by Nancy’s parents in 1961. They moved to Florida in 1959 and partnered with another dairyman while looking for a farm of their own. Both of her parents came from Wisconsin dairy families. Mom’s were Norwegian immigrants and Dad’s were German/Irish. They built a small dairy barn and began milking their herd of about 30 Holstein cows while raising their 7 children. Life was good!
The picture on the right is an aerial view of the Jost family farm in Wisconsin before they moved to Hawthorne.
Nancy and I met at the University of Florida. She was a nursing student and I was an architecture major. Needing a break from school, I went to work for a civil engineer in Ft. Myers. Not long after, Uncle Sam decided he needed me. Nancy and I were married shortly before I went in the Navy to ride nuclear submarines for six years.
When I got out of the Navy, we moved home to help her mom decide what to do with the dairy since her father had passed away. I guess the die was cast – we bought the farm from her mom and began our lives as dairymen.
Over the years we milked nearly every kind of cow there is, mostly Holstein and Brown Swiss. In 1994 we decided to sell our cows, take a vacation and do some remodeling. We decided to start back in the business as a grazing dairy and all the research showed the Jersey to be the choice. In 1996 we bought the first of our wonderful “little brown cows”. Over the course of the next several years we grew our herd of registered Jerseys to over 200 head. We still today milk about that many. Most of our milk is marketed through our co-op, where we are awarded a premium for our excellent quality and high butterfat.
For many years we had been considering producing some value added product. After meeting with other artisan cheese makers and much discussion, we decided Farmstead Cheese was the way to go. In April 2009 we began construction on our cheese plant right next door to our milking parlor. In March 2010 we made our first cheese – a gouda.