“The same day never happens twice,” says Lara Hourie, the owner of The Orkney Dairy, as she lists her favourite things about the farming industry.
“Dairy farming, like all farming, is a lifestyle rather than a job as they say,” she adds.
“I have loved being brought up on the farm as there is always something happening or needing done.”
The Hourie family are in their fourth generation of running Bain Farm, located in the west mainland of the Orkney Islands.
But Lara has been instrumental in diversifying the business. Here’s why…
Key facts about udderly great Highland business The Orkney Dairy
The farm officially started selling its dairy produce — made from its own herd’s milk — in April 2021 under the business, The Orkney Dairy. These products included plain natural yoghurt and pasteurised milk.
However, the team also sold hot chocolate bombs roughly six months prior which proved a “huge success” over the 2020 Christmas period.
Lara’s dad Willie, mum Kirstin, dairyman Steven and brother David all work on the farm, while The Orkney Dairy is primarily run by Lara and Kirstin.
Today, the portfolio has expanded to also include milkshakes, cheese and more.
Let’s get onto the products — which are outstanding in their field
The milkshakes are sold in 500ml bottles, and are a firm favourite among customers.
Flavours include strawberry, banana, chocolate and vanilla with a fifth flavour rotating every six weeks (roughly). White chocolate will be introduced shortly.
As for the yoghurt, it is sold in two tub sizes — 350g and 500g. Other than it’s plain natural flavour, rhubarb, fudge and lemon curd are also in the line-up.
Lara said: “Our garlic and herb cheese was just launched in July, winning a silver at the Royal Highland Show.
“It is a soft cheese flavoured with garlic and herbs, very similar to a boursin.”
Hot chocolate bombs are still on the cards too. They comprise marshmallows and hot chocolate powder encased in a chocolate shell.
“We have a huge range of flavours available,” Lara went on to say.
“[They are] Regular, dark, Malteser, chocolate orange, salted caramel, sticky toffee pudding, banoffee, white chocolate and strawberry, raspberry ripple, gingerbread, Turkish delight, mint, and ‘Christmas in a cup’.
“We tend to only sell them over the winter when the weather is colder and you need a sweet pick me up.”
All products, along with bakes and other refreshments, are available in The Orkney Dairy Big Bun Box at the farm, while some are sold on the business’ website.
They can also be spotted in the majority of local stores in Orkney as well as shops in Kirkwall and Stromness.
Lara and the team are currently working on selling their cheese in the mainland of Scotland, too.
From serving guests breakfast before school at the family’s B&B to running a thriving company
Lara has worked in the food and drink industry from a young age.
Her mum ran a bed-and-breakfast in the family home for 13 years where she “would help out by serving guests breakfast before school”.
“Then, my first job at 13 was as a waitress at the Skara Brae Café — helping at weddings and events — before working at the Standing Stones Hotel as a waitress and barmaid,” she added.
“Food and drink has always been a keen interest of mine. Luckily, being brought up in Orkney, I have been surrounded by the most incredible produce.”
She went on to say that while dairy farming is “hard work”, watching her parents run the farm has given her a good work ethic.
Being able to work with animals and be outside daily are added bonuses.
‘Getting positive feedback makes the hard work worth it,’ says Lara
Around three to four days are spent making produce per week, plus two delivery days.
Milkshakes take five to six hours from gathering the milk to pasteurising, cooling and bottling.
Yoghurt takes roughly 12 hours from start to finish, while the cheese takes two days.
“The milk for all of our produce comes straight from the farm,” adds Lara. “Each day I am making produce fresh from the mornings milking.
“Being able to provide the local community with good produce is a main driver. And getting positive feedback on our produce makes the hard work worth it.”
You can also read Karla’s latest articles in the P&J’s Food and Drink magazine, which you’ll find inside your Press and Journal newspaper every Saturday.