We wanted to share what has been on our minds lately. We have been experimenting with different ways to improve and expand our new budding dairy goat business. We have learned so much in these past few months it’s hard to explain it all in words, but all in all, we are so honored to be working with these beautiful and intelligent creatures.
Meet Caroline & Layla, they are Purebred Nubian does and happen to both be champion show goats.
They have taught us so much already: diligence, teamwork, respect, and a lot about different herbs. They are so graceful — their cousin is the deer — and you can see it in every movement they make. They eat an enormous variety of medicinal herbs, such as rose leaves, raspberry leaves, goldenrod, burdock, plantain seed, wild mustards, lush grasses, tree leaves & more. When I began my goat journey earlier in the year, I went out with my goats and a notebook every day and kept a record of some of what they ate. I came to appreciate that the goats would wait until a certain time in a plant’s life before they’d eat it. Sometimes I would think they didn’t like a plant, and then later, when it had matured, they would eat it. They taught me to be aware that plants are not the same every day, that their constituents change with the seasons. So not only is goats’ milk herbal medicine, the goats themselves are teachers of herbal medicine.
Meet Ella & Momo, they are Purebred Alpine does and they produce the most milk, although their milk isn’t as sweet or creamy as the Nubian’s, it still makes the best cheese ever.
We have had great success selling fresh goat’s’ milk, yogurt, and kefir to our customers. We have been steadily developing a loyal consumer base, it has been a very rewarding feeling, to know that their families are consuming these superior milk products. Our milk, compared to most homogenized, industrial milk in the supermarket, is drastically different.
(Our girls produce a gallon EACH a day!)
On a commercial dairy operation animals are in large “farms” known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO). They do not enjoy the same health as our animals and are not able to graze, browse, or hardly even move… They are cooped up in concrete buildings, aimlessly walking in their own manure… If you imagine a comparison between milk from animals raised like that vs. animals raised like ours, then you would understand how important it is to consume local pasture raised milk. We have a rotational grazing plan that consists of a paddock shift system. When the girls are finished grazing an area, we immediately move them onto new lush land. They have continual access to the best pasture all season and we feed them unlimited high quality hay, truly a goat’s heaven!
Now that our goats are happier than ever, let’s get more into the process of making yogurt & kefir. Turning milk into yogurt or kefir is a natural transformation involving a culture, called fermentation. The following is passage from book The Art of Fermentation.
“Fresh milk is largely a 20th- century phenomenon, made possible by the advent and spread of refrigeration technology (and the energy to run it). Thankfully there are other ways to store milk and stabilize its shelf life for longer periods of time thanks to fermentation. Fermentation transforms milk from a highly perishable substance into much more stable forms. Milk can ferment many different ways, depending upon methods, cultures and coagulants, environmental conditions, and manipulations. The fermented milk best known in the United States is yogurt, with kefir a distant second. Yogurt is a turkish name from southeastern Europe and around the mediterranean. Kefir is also a turkish name, for a very different style of fermented milk, from the Caucasus Mountains.” – (Sandor Katz)
Now that you have a little more information about the subject, here’s an outline how we make yogurt, kefir, soft cheese, and provide some tips that we’ve learned along the “whey.” Let’s start with fresh goat cheese known as Chevre.
After we collect enough milk over a few days, we have a few options. Here we have inoculated 3 gallons of milk the night before with Chevre Cheese culture. Now we are about to gently scoop the cheese out of the pot, leaving the whey behind. We place the cheese in forms that are made to strain more whey out from the cheese, this leaves you with a solid soft cheese, this happens after 8 hours of draining into the bowl below on the counter.
After that, we strain the whey into jars and save that to use for smoothies, soaking nuts & grains, and soaking meat in marinades.
We will salt and add herbs to the cheese when it has finished, this makes the best topping on ANY meal. We almost always have cheese available. We offer it on a donation basis, we need to have notice though if you would like to get it at the market. We have it at the farm all the time too.