Monday, December 14, 2009

The First Seasons - Making Goat Cheese

My first cheese season was the summer of 2007 when I was milking my first five does. That season was a real learning experience. I had plenty of goat milk to experiment with …so … I got one of Ricki Carroll’s cheese making books … studied the recipes and made lots of cheese batches. I made pressed Cheddar type cheeses, some Monterey Jack, fresh Feta, fresh Chevre with different herbs mixed in, and a wonderful fresh Mozzarella. I made delicious fresh yogurt too.

I can’t say that every batch of cheese turned out the way it was supposed to. Some of it turned out great and some not so great! I learned that the milk changes during the milking season and what worked great in the early summer wasn’t working so well in the late fall. I had to adjust the recipes to take this into account. I kept notes of what worked and what didn’t work. I tried to duplicate my successes and stay away from the failures.

During that first cheese making season, I learned that the keys to making cheese is Temperature, Timing, and Technique. The recipes give the temperature and amount of time each step should take at a given temperature. The technique, however, is a skill learned though experience and a lot of practice. I have to say that my techniques and skill got pretty good by the end of the milking season. At least my family and friends thought so!

During the 2008 milking and cheese making season, I milked seven does. It took most all of the milk for the first couple of months just to feed the babies (see the post on Feeding the Kids). When the kids were weaned (and some had gone on to other homes), I finally had enough milk to make cheese again.

The demand for the milk, cheese and yogurt grew greatly during the 2008 season and I knew I had found something that I loved doing - working with the goats and making the delicious cheeses!

I determined to become licensed with the state milk board so I could sell the cheese commercially. It became apparent that this wouldn’t be a possibility on the farm where I lived. The farm was too remote and only had a shed off of the side of the well house for the goats and milking stand.

So, the search began to find a farm with a good location and existing dairy structures to grow the goat dairy business.


Spring Lake Farm said...

Ok, I have to tell you...after reading your journal about last years kidding season I'm just a little freaked out! ;) We have two pregnant does and being a first timer I am praying that things go smoothly. Thanks for all the helpful tips though. I'll keep you posted as to how it goes.

Happy Holidays,


Brenda said...

Hi Sandy! I've enjoyed reading your posts too. I really enjoy the photo stories!

I'm sure everything will be fine with your does. It's a good idea to start with only 2. They'll teach you a lot! If it turns out that you have to assist ... don't wait as long as I did with Bell that first season. Even though it all turned out fine in the end, I should have helped her sooner.

Yes, I agree and also pray that kidding season goes smoothly ... with your does ... with my does ... and with all of my friends who have pregnant does. I have 48 to have kids this spring. It'll all start on the 19th of January!