Part of our grand plan this summer, our transitional period between our round-the-world trip and our journey to find Quiet Farm, is to visit and volunteer on as many farms as possible. As we’ve said before, we can learn something from every single farm.
We’ve volunteered on vegetable farms (both cold and warm) before, but because we’re virtually certain we’ll have goats, for meat and milk, on Quiet Farm, we wanted to spend some time with these lovely creatures this summer. And that brought us here, to Mountain Flower Goat Dairy in Boulder. Mountain Flower is a non-profit committed to a few different key goals that we respect wholeheartedly: community engagement and education, sustainable agriculture and humane animal husbandry, and land conservation. All of these are tenets we plan to incorporate into Quiet Farm.
Smart, inquisitive, affectionate and productive…goats are popular for good reason.
Mountain Flower Goat Dairy is a raw-milk goat dairy, the only one within the city limits of the Kingdom of Boulder. There is a lot of controversy surrounding raw milk; the sale of it is illegal in most states and dairies must often sell “herd shares” in order to operate legally. It’s important to familiarize yourself with both the pros and the cons before forming your own opinion on raw milk. In MFGD’s own words:
“The primary focus at Mountain Flower Goat Dairy is to provide a supply of the most gorgeous, clean, healthy goat milk possible while demonstrating to the public a working urban farm. We are the only dairy in the Boulder city limits and we are delighted to fill this food void for our community. We allow the public the opportunity to own a portion of our herd and thereby gain access to raw milk.
A spirited debate exists over whether raw milk should be made available to the general public or not. Raw milk advocates have an uphill battle to shatter paradigms that remain from a time when little was known about microbiology and modern refrigeration did not exist. We believe it comes down to a person’s right to choose what food to put into their own bodies. We make a point to keep informed on and involved in the issues related to raw milk. We encourage you to do the same.
We do what feels right to us. That is to raise goats the way nature intended eating grass and alfalfa, grazing in the fields, playing with each other, being loved by humans and eating organic grains. We milk our goats in a low-stress environment and treat their milk with the utmost care, cleanliness and respect.”
Relocating to greener pastures.
Mountain Flower keeps about thirteen adult does on hand for milking at any given time. They breed most of these does every year and either keep the young to expand their own herd, or sell the kids to families or farms who will uphold their high standards. Some of the kids are eventually used as pack animals, or family pets, or for meat.
Up you go, darling.
Cleanliness is of paramount importance in any dairy operation.
Small goat dairies may still milk by hand…
…but milking by machine is much quicker and more efficient.
Dairy goats are milked twice per day; the amount of milk they produce varies wildly based on grazing availability, season, breed, weather and other factors. While it’s now common to find goat cheese in grocery stores and on restaurant menus, goat (and its related value-added products) have only been well-known in the U.S. for about forty years or so. Despite being the world’s most commonly-consumed meat, goats are a relatively recent introduction to American palates. Goat milk, yogurt and cheese are now easy to market, but goat meat is still a hard sell – and the honest truth of any dairy operation, no matter the animal, is that approximately fifty percent of the babies born will be male. That logically means slaughter for meat, a reality that we’ll fully accept on Quiet Farm.
Pensive goats in thought, probably about how to escape their grazing pasture.
What we learned during our summer at Mountain Flower is that these are truly incredible animals. They are passionate and irascible and difficult and gorgeous and moody and infuriating and loving – just like humans. We learned that they remember you and your weirdly soft yet nubbly leather gloves and that there are few things more comforting than a doe leaning up against you for an aggressively affectionate scruffle. We acknowledge that the realities of raising livestock mean that they will eventually (hopefully) grace our table, and that we’ll be even more thankful for the gifts they’ve given us. We learned that we want these animals in our lives and on our farm.
Fresh goat milk is truly amazing. Oh, and it makes incredible cheese, butter and yogurt.
Ready for customers.
The definition of “free range.”
What’s going on over here?
Come on! Who doesn’t want to cuddle that sweet face?
Know thy food, and know thy farmer. The more we learn about these animals (and farming in general), the more we want to know. Quiet Farm, here we come.
P.S. A huge thank-you to the wonderful team at Mountain Flower Goat Dairy for hosting us this summer. Catherine and Dennis, thank you for sharing your land. Michael, Maddie, Kallie and Ryen, thank you for showing us the ropes. Please come see us on Quiet Farm.