Goats… what makes goats so fascinating? Is it their friendly inquisitiveness? Their obvious affection and sense of humor? The odd horizontal pupils in their eyes? Or is it simply the fact that they have been part of our lives for thousands of years?
At Larkhaven Farmstead Cheeses, Clare Paris and her husband Sam Howell have been producing aged raw milk cheese for nearly 20 years and began marketing commercially about 5 years ago. Today, Clare and her husband Sam are members of a very exclusive club!
Tucked into a Ponderosa pine woods at an elevation of about 2,300 feet, Pine Stump Farms, Omak Washington, is just 30 miles south of the Canadian border in the central Washington Okanagan Valley. A high-elevation pine/shrub-steppe environment with 12 to 15 inches of annual rainfall means it is necessary for Carey Hunter and Albert Roberts to take a holistic approach to farming and balance a wide range of business activities to succeed.
Quick! What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “dairy cows?” Probably black and white cows in a grassy field in front of a red barn, right? That’s the image that every confinement dairy operation would like you to imagine, but very few cows are raised that way. Rick Adamski, Full Circle Farm, Seymour Wisconsin, is a grazer. No, he doesn’t eat grass; he milks about 90 cows that do.
Mel and Sue Brown, Amaltheia Organic Dairy, milk more than 200 goats and, in their small cheese plant, they turn out chevre, whole milk ricotta, and feta cheese. The original three flavors of Amaltheia’s chevre won American Cheese Society awards in 2004 and the whole milk ricotta was called “perfect” by the Society judges.
At Amaltheia Organic Dairy, Belgrade Montana, Mel and Sue Brown milk between 250 and 280 goats and produce award-winning organic cheeses that are sold across the United States. While the dairy and cheese plant may be small by some standards, size makes no difference when it comes to careful and sanitary handling of food products.
Snuggled up against the Canadian border in northern Washington, you’ll find Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, where Shawn and Clairssa Langley are carrying on the family tradition. Shawn is the fifth generation of his family on the farm.
On a busy workday in early September, FDA inspectors made their “routine” visit to Amaltheia Organic Dairy. Garbed in hazmat suits, hair nets, face masks, and disposable gloves and booties, a team of inspectors examined the small cheese processing plant from top to bottom. The result? Mel and Sue Brown and their cheese company passed with flying colors.