A new type of cheese is now available for purchase in Cape Breton.
It's firm and tastes like old cheddar, but this fromage is not made from cow or goat milk. It's produced from sheep's milk.
Ron Muise, a farmer in Grand Mira North, located about 36 km from Sydney, said he never doubted the sheep cheese concept, but others had some questions.
"When we started this venture a few years ago now, people looked at me very funny and said, 'You're going to milk what?'" he said.
His company is called Wandering Shepherd Cheese.
The hard, cheddar-like sheep cheese is available now, along with yogurt and feta cheese made from cow's milk. His product list will expand in the spring when he can harvest and use fresh sheep milk.
The new product is prompting others on Cape Breton Island to breed sheep.
Estelle Levangie and her husband, Tim, have just started their own farm in Millville.
She said Muise's sheep cheese business is a good opportunity for them and for other new farmers.
"You will be able to process a lot of milk. Even if we get up to 100 or 200 head of sheep, it's not going to be enough production, so there's room for a lot more farms like us, Levangie said.
Another farmer in Mabou also plans to sell his sheep milk to Muise.
"Encouraging new farmers to get into ewe milk production has been very exciting. We were at the ground floor helping write the legislation and everything else and working with the department of agriculture," Muise said.
"We have one farmer who has purchased some ewes and another person up in Mabou who is getting 30 ewes from me next year. So, we've started an industry."
Muise said the growing local sheep milk industry is a boost for the island and for him.
"Giving me the option to buy local milk is going to be great — then I can concentrate on cheese making. Even though I'll still milk my sheep, I won't have to milk as many," he said
Muise said he plans to offer school tours of his farm and cheese production in the spring.