The chuga-chuga sound is one any dairyman would want to hear — daily. It’s the sound of milking machines collecting the white liquid, which is turned into edible products that support their farm.
For Greg and Ana Kelly, the chuga-chuga sound means fresh milk from their flock of 80 milking ewes – milk to be made into cheeses and caramel at their Gallant, Ala., sheep farm, named Dayspring Dairy.
The Kelly’s own and operate Alabama’s only sheep dairy, with their two children – Everett, 14, and Sofia, 10 — and several part-time employees.
Greg Kelly had wanted a different career than his prior corporate path as an I.T. manager. So he and Ana researched different occupations that could provide an income, and a lifestyle better suited to family living.
“Greg wanted a farm, and animals,” Ana says, “and I wanted to make cheese. You either buy lots of milk, or you raise it.”
“We visited a sheep dairy in Knoxville,” Ana explains, “and we were rocked. We loved the animals and products, and saw how many products can be made from sheep’s milk. Sheep have the richest milk, the most protein, carbs, fat, and a high yield.”
After visiting several sheep dairies across the U. S., they purchased their 30-acre farm in northeast Alabama in 2010.
Photos: Meg McKinney for NPR