Cheese, sheep and Texel belong together like the wind and the sea. The Wezenspyk cheese factory not only offers the opportunity to buy cheese in a farm shop, you can also take a look at the production facility.
View of the Wezenspyk cheese factory
It was already clear to me before our visit to the cheese factory that milk is needed to make cheese. But I hadn’t really dealt with the subject before. Already in the entrance area of the building there is a small area where “cheese knowledge” is presented on photos, information boards and in videos.
How milk turns into cheese
In very simplified terms, cheese is produced when the milk sours and the solid components separate from the whey. But it is not quite as simple as that. In the cheese dairy, various steps are necessary to speed up the production process.
Through large panes of glass, you can see individual steps in the production process when work is in progress:
Lactic acid bacteria are added to the milk. Their task is to coagulate the milk. Depending on the type of cheese, this takes between 30 minutes and several hours. In technical terms, this process is called curdling. The product of this process is called curd. When this mass has the right firmness, a cheese harp cuts it into small chunks. This is called cheese curd. Whey is released in the process. The more whey is released, the harder the cheese later becomes.
We were able to observe the next step closely. Apparently the consistency of the curd was right, because it was turned, allowed to drain and was pressed again and again.
The mixture is then filled into cheese vats. After a bath in brine (promotes the formation of the rind and keeps bacteria away), the cheese can mature in peace.
We could see numerous cheeses on the shelves. However, they are not left completely alone there. Brushing, washing and turning are regularly on the agenda. So it’s real manual work that takes a lot of time.
The farm shop at the Wezenspyk cheese factory
The cheeses made in the cheese dairy from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk or goat’s milk can be bought in the small farm shop on site.
The classic Texel farmer’s cheese, ‘Boerenkaas’, has been around since 1981. In the meantime, Texel sheep’s cheese, ‘Schapenkaas’, and goat’s cheese, ‘Geitenkaas’, are also produced and sold. In addition to the ‘pure’ varieties, cheeses with herbs, for example, are also offered.
In addition, you can buy typical products of the island, such as lamb or jam.
Of course, we didn’t leave the farm shop empty-handed with the tempting offer. Not only a whole sheep’s cheese, but also a ready-made cheese fondue set ended up in our rucksack. We tried out the cheese fondue at home. It was portioned for two people and contained three cheeses with matching flavours. These were pleasantly spicy in combination and, with fresh white bread, made a more than adequate meal.
Visit to the cheese café
Even though it hadn’t been long since breakfast, we couldn’t go past the cheese café. Here you can comfortably eat a cheese fondue or cheese bread, or try a piece of homemade butter cake. We enjoyed the cake, which was so different from what I would have expected. Heavy, hard and not juicy but uniquely tasty!
Sheep, sheep, sheep
It’s hard to believe, but there are supposed to be about 500-600 different breeds of sheep worldwide. On Texel, there are certainly not quite as many, and to be honest, I have hardly been able to discover any real differences.
But if you are already on a sheep farm, then of course you also want to look at the animals. There are many opportunities to do so on the grounds of the Wezenspyk cheese factory.
We first went into a stable. An outside staircase leads to a “viewing platform” in a sheep pen. We were literally greeted by a stunning smell when we entered the barn. In short order, our visit was very short, but this did not prevent us from observing the animals at least a little.
We preferred the outdoor area and there we found the Texel sheep.
The Texel sheep (Texelaar) is a breed of sheep that originally came from Texel. Today, the largest number of animals can be found in New Zealand and Australia. About 14000 animals live on Texel, which is about the population of the island. Almost as many lambs are born every year.
The Texel sheep is quite a large animal. The female sheep can weigh almost 80 kilograms and have a shoulder height of about 68 cm. We saw a buck during our little tour. These animals grow somewhat larger and weigh almost 90 kilograms.
Very characteristic are the black nose and the strong, medium-length ears on the unintended and hornless head. The neck of the animal appears very short and is full of muscles. Unlike other sheep, the Texel sheep has short and strong legs.
Each animal brings about 4-5 kilograms of wool (per year) at shearing. And here follows the request of all sheep farmers – a Texel sheep cannot stand up on its own if it is rolled onto its side or back. Especially when the wool is wet, it is almost too heavy for the sheep. So please help the animal to stand up!
Schapenmuseum – Sheep Museum
If you follow a signposted path on the farm, you will learn a lot about Texel and its sheep.
Small information stations (also in German) explain the topic in a simple and understandable way. At one point you can listen to two short audio stories about sheep. I found them very entertaining and could not help smiling at the stories, which are not to be taken seriously.
The trail ends at the sheep museum, which has been located in one of the typical Texel sheep barns since 2018. Here, the theme of the “Knowledge Trail” is taken up again and explored in greater depth. A great exhibition that you should take your time to see.
Circular trail with hand ferry
According to a small hiking map we picked up at the farm café, there is a circular hiking trail about 3 kilometres long that also passes the Sheep Museum. The Skéép en Lantskap hiking trail is a section of a longer route that starts in Den Hoorn and ends there again via the old dikes in a circular route. The total length is about 8.5 kilometres.
Somewhat confused, we first looked for a path – there were no signs to be found – that should take us to a hand ferry. Well, for us as city dwellers, a fence in front of a meadow is a barrier and a path is usually something visible. Only at second glance did we discover the gate in the fence and open it. Behind it, a path ran across a meadow between two sheep pastures. The animals to our right and left raised their heads now and then, but actually they didn’t care much about us – eating was clearly more important.
After about 500 metres we arrived at a canal, which we now had to cross with the help of a hand ferry. The ferry is actually nothing more than some floating wooden planks with a boundary on the side. From one side of the canal to the other, a rope is stretched over pulleys, with the help of which one pulls the small boat across the canal. A micro-adventure that makes the hike very interesting, especially for children.
Over a small dike, the path leads along the canal and between the fields. Later you walk back along a road towards the Wezenspyk cheese factory. A beautiful loop that makes you want to discover more of the island.
1791PM Den Burg
Niederlade – Texel
Monday – Saturday: 9:30 -17h
Sunday and public holidays: 11-17h
New Year closed
Sheep Museum opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 9.30-17h
The visit to the Wezenspyk cheese factory was an item on the programme of a VVV Texel press trip.VVV Texel.