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Pine Stump Farm – Farmstead Goat Cheese and More

Pine Stump Farm – Farmstead Goat Cheese and More

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Huge welcome this month to Carey, who will document her family’s journey along the way to becoming a Grade A dairy. Look for her story in future newsletters!

 

Welcome to my farm. Pine Stump Farms has been evolving for 24 years and it’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone.  My partner Albert and I bought a “fixer upper” and camped outside during spring and summer while we gutted the house and repainted.  Fortunately, eastern Washington spring and summers can be truly gorgeous camping weather –  so much the better for us.

 

We have a diversified operation of cows, hogs, horses, chickens, dogs, cats, and – of course – goats, which you can view at our website:  www.pinestumpfarms.com. But my objective in this blog is to describe specifically the dairy operation and how it came to be and particulars around that.

 

It all began when I was living off-grid and wanted fresh milk without having to drive the 45 minutes to town – so I bought a goat. My first goat was a Saanen; she was pure white, as Saanens are, and docile, which was perfect for my first goat.  I staked her out because I hadn’t yet built an enclosure for her. I had two young children at the time so the fresh milk was very welcome.  Fast forward some 20 years and I was an empty nester – an empty nester with by now a couple of milk goats (they like company and also have cute babies).  The milk began accumulating rapidly and so I began experimenting with making fresh cheeses.

 

My first book was Raising Milk Goats Successfully by Gail Luffmann (Williamson Publishing, 1986). It is a great practical, brief introduction and overview to all the basic components. I use it every year with interns coming to the farm to learn about the goats, milking and general animal husbandry.

 

Basically, I love animals.  My favorite animals are (not necessarily in this order) cats, horses, goats, dogs, and chickens.  I’ve always been an animal person from the day I brought home a stray tiger kitty from kindergarten and asked if we could keep him. I grew up in a small town that had no room in the yard for more than a cat and a dog, so I had to wait until I had my own place as a young adult to indulge my desire for horses and goats.

 

Goats will take walks with you. They will also show you where your fencing needs work. They make great companions but can also be very challenging.  I believe they are smarter and more inquisitive than most dogs.  And then there’s those adorable babies. Some are absolutely breathtakingly unique, such as the little boy pictured here. There are so many ways that goats can be both useful and ingratiating.  Okay, they can also be exasperating (that’s where goats for meat comes in).
I guess that’s how I began accumulating more and more goats. Between the cute babies and finding ways to use the milk, it just grows exponentially. So naturally, I needed to learn about cheesemaking.

 

Even though I began milking in the late 70s (yes, time flies), I didn’t actually begin making cheese until the 90s.  Yep, we were just drinking and loving the milk for some 20 years.  There are plenty of studies that tout the value of raw, organic milk. Then add the more digestible and nutritional and anti-allergenic values of goats’ milk and you have a real winner. There’s a study currently being circulated on the listservs (New Insights Gained into the Role  of Dairy Products in Promoting Healthier Diets) that are impressive in the stressing the documented fact that organic, raw milk provides a healthier balance of omega3 to omega6 fatty acids.  And that’s just the beginning.  Perhaps in a future blog I shall enumerate even more of the nutritional and healthful advantages of having your own dairy goats.

 

After experimentation, I began getting serious about studying the art – and it is an art as much as a science – of cheesemaking.  Anyone who knows the value of precision, aka the science, and the sense of the right texture, aka the art, can appreciate that it takes both sets of skills to be able to pull off cheesemaking. I learned that one can use lemon juice or vinegar to set the cheese, but that the coagulant has a definite effect on the texture of the cheese.  For that reason, I have migrated over the years to using a liquid vegetable microbial rennet.

 

The first formal course I took was actually about how to get licensed as a commercial dairy, put on by the state Department of Agriculture in 2004.  I realized that it was indeed feasible and returned home to set about convincing my partner that we should “undertake an applied feasibility study” in putting together a licensed micro dairy.

 

In future blogs, I hope to cover how we came into compliance with the regulations and also housing, milking parlor setup, milkhouse layout, feed and nutritional needs, animal husbandry as relates specifically to goats, breeds and choosing the breed(s) that will work for you, milking to cheesemaking, routines and rhythms that fit and don’t fit.

 

Thank you for joining me on this recounting of my adventures in goats, and I look forward to any questions you might have. You can email me at pinestmp@hotmail.com or our FaceBook page at Pine Stump Farms or our website www.pinestumpfarms.com . – Carey

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