Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Dairy Goat Homestead? No Whey!

We spent the morning at Latte Da Dairy...which is probably the coolest place I've seen in a long time!! Anne Jones and her husband were "city folk" who got tired of the rat race & set out to live a country lifestyle. Long story short, they began a goat dairy farm & have in just a few short years, won many awards on their 100% Natural, Artisanal Goat Cheese. Anne's cheeses are even carried by Central about dream come true for a homestead farmer!

First, with our plans to move to the farm in the next few years & have goats (although not dairy goats), this outing was of particular interest to me. Second, it's always so inspirational to hear someone's story of really living their dream.

You can really, really see the care that Anne's "divas" receive. She believes that the best quality food for the Divas, most comfortable living environment, & freshest milk make her cheese so amazingly delicious. After eating about half of the chevre I took home yesterday I have to agree!

Latte Da Dairy has two breeds of dairy goat: La Mancha (genetically born without ear flaps) & Nubian. They are a larger breed of goat capable of producing about a gallon of milk each day!
Anne told us that her goats respond in many ways that dogs do. The girls know their names, they know the milking order so that when Anne calls one Diva, the next Diva knows it will be her turn soon, & she said they love to be pet! Here's my attempt at petting a goat and taking a picture at the same time. Guess my glove tasted good!

Goats always need a "guardian" and Dozer the Llama was the Latte Da Dairy guardian. What a unique looking fellow! Some goat owners use donkeys & others choose llamas as Goat Guardians. I asked Anne's husband why they chose a llama & I found out some very useful information for our future goat herd! If a predator entered the goat pen, a donkey would stomp the predator to death if possible & Anne was afraid that if her own dogs ever got into the pen, the donkey would kill the dogs. On the other hand, a llama will gather the goats in a corner of the pen & stand guard against the predator. Llamas are tall, spit far, & are very brave, so they are ideal guardians. That information greatly impacts our decisions in the future!

Anne took us into the barn to show everyone how the milking process begins. I just liked the silhouette picture of Reese & a friend in the barn....
We went into the milking room & when Anne said "The milking machine is a little loud...." everyone covered their ears as she turned it on.

All the kids got to feel the suction tubes (that attach to the teats) on their hands. Reese really, really, really liked the sensation & kept asking Anne if he could to do it again & again. Silly boy ;)
As I said before, the Latte Da Dairy divas are really well cared for. Most of the girls will gladly give lots of milk to the milking machine, but Anne noticed that three of her divas drastically reduced their milk production when hooked up to the machine vs milking by hand. For these goats, they needed the "human touch" to let their milk down, so Anne milks these three girls by hand (twice a day, every day, no matter what!). Truly a farmer who cares for her animals, don't you think?
In the milking barn, Anne also showed us the pasteurizer & explained the process a bit more.

Here's our motely crew gathered outside the milking barn. Check out how bundled up we are!

After the pasteurization process, the whey is leftover & is unusable in the cheese making process. These divas know what to do with it though! As Anne poured they whey into the trough, you could hear the "slurp slurp" of the girls loving their treat. The whey helps keep their fur nice & shiny too...

One of the Happy Divas who just finished her whey.

After visiting the milking barn, Anne invited us all into her cheese making kitchen. Brave woman. Seven children & six mothers gathered in her commercial kitchen! She graciously explained her cheese making process. The white basket is where Anne's cheese is made & it gives the finished product a pretty basket weave design.

Finished chevre cheese on the left, basket on the right. See the similarity in pattern?

Tammy was SO kind & purchased a cheese for each family to take home. We chose the "plain" Chevre, but it was definitely not "plain old cheese"! I ate it three different times yesterday & could have easily eaten the entire cheese in one sitting.

After leaving Latte Da Dairy, we all headed to lunch together. Why do you think they put all 13 of us at one big table in a room all by ourselves?

Our group really is unique & I feel SO very thankful that we have friends who are wacky enough like we are to visit a Homestead Goat Dairy when it's 33 degrees outside!


HRH said...

Yes Whey! That made me laugh. I love the silohette (I can't spell right now, but am going to keep typing) picture is awesome may have to post more than one on Sunday!

laura said...

Great post! I can't stop laughing about that happy goat picture, too funny. Thanks!