We have a herd of about 200 goats, made up of milkers, bucks, meat goats and the "JV" team--the season's just-born does who are not yet milking. We plot out grazing patterns so that we can have the best milk from happy goats on healthy grass, season after season.
Our goats are crosses of Oberhäsli, Nubian, French Alpine, and Kiko breeds, all bred naturally as a closed herd. Raised on open pasture, they are seasonal animals, meaning they mate in the Fall and produce no milk all Winter. Every Spring, the season restarts, flooding the farm with fresh milk and adorable baby goats.
Our cow milk comes from a production partnership with two neighboring farms--Wayward Goose Farm and Indian Hill Farm, each with about thirty cows milking at any one time. To put that into perspective, the average Vermont dairy farm milks about 100 cows. All of their cows are raised on open pasture when the weather allows it, and hay from those very fields through the colder months.
Most milk in America is always pasteurized and almost always from large operations raising black-and-white Holstein cows. That stuff is an entirely different product from what we get from Wayward Goose and Indian Hill. Their cows, predominantly Jersey, Brown Swiss and Ayrshire breeds, produce milk with almost twice as much fat and protein as what you'd get in the supermarket, is rich in omega-3's, and even changes in flavor depending on which grasses they eat.
Our hardworking cleanup crew of forty or so chickens mow through the leftovers and left-behinds of the goats and cows. They pick away at grain and grubs, adding their own nitrogen-rich droppings to the soil and producing incredibly rich and omega-3 packed eggs.
The Neighborhood Pigs
Only about 10% of every gallon of milk can be turned into cheese. The rest--water, runoff fat and whey protein--is still nutritious and as unique as the cows it came from. Making good use of it is where the pigs come in.
Our neighbor Mike Stock takes every drop of whey we produce and feeds it to his pigs. Rather than have this nutritious by-product go to waste, we're continuing a tradition of raising pigs wherever cheese is made that can be traced back to Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano.