Farmstead cheesemaking means that every wheel of cheese we produce was made only with milk from our goat herd. That means that our goats are the heart of everything that goes on here at the farm.
We started our herd in 2012 with four alpine dairy goats but over the years we’ve added LaMancha, and mini Nubian genetics. Most of our herd has been born and raised here, and they all have names (and personalities). Our milking and cheesemaking happens seasonally, beginning with kidding in early March and ending in mid December when we dry the girls off and give them a rest during the end of their pregnancy. We are passionate about managing our farm so that the majority of our goats diet comes from the land. In spring and fall the goat’s main food source is our perennial pasture, which is primarily fescue with a smattering of orchargrass and other forbes like plantain, chicory, and milkweed. During the summer months we move the herd every week or so to a section of wooded or semi wooded sections of browse (goat’s preferred food source) where they enjoy the shade while eating the honeysuckle, locust, poison ivy, blackberry, and other species.
Seasonal dairying is not the norm in these days of commodity markets and year-round availability of all things, but it is important to us for a number of reasons. It allows us to work with the goats natural cycle of reproduction and lactaction. It also means that we are producing milk and making cheese during the growing season so pasture and browse can be the goats primary food source- this is what gives our cheese its terroir (taste of place). Lastly, farmstead cheesemaking is an all encompassing business. By operating seasonally we, the humans, get a little break too. Just like the goats, and the pasture and browse they love, we enjoy the rest in the winter and use it to plan and get excited about the next season.
Cheesemaking has always been a traditional way to preserve milk, which was historically a seasonal and highly perishable product. While we have cheese available year round, their shelf lives vary from weeks to months so not all varieties are available at any given time. We hope that you will begin to appreciate cheese as a seasonal product, just like tomatoes and pumpkins.