Way up on Double Knob Drive in Tusquittee, you'll find the goat farm. It's like the Swiss Alps on the mountain. Donna Gains owns and operates the High Mountain Meadows Farm and Creamery in Hayesville, North Carolina. Her farm includes dairy goats, cheese, meat goats, rabbits, chickens, and eggs. It's an adventure touring this goat farm.
Donna Gains keeps her creamery spotless clean to minimize contaminants while culturing and fermenting cheeses. She's making goat cheese from an Italian Alps recipe today. "You must love it," she says, "because it's a long process in here."
She spends about four hours in the creamery at a time and listens to books on tapes to pass the time.
This pasteurizer kills harmful bacteria in the goat's milk. It holds five gallons and cost $5,000! Fortunately, she applied for a grant that helped to pay for it.
Donna holds some goat cheese. She makes hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda in her creamery. She also produces soft cheeses including mozzarella and chevre. Other popular goat cheeses are feta, blue, and riccota Goat's cheese is very popular now.
After pasteurization, you let the goat's milk cool, then make the cheese. You add bacteria to create taste and aromatic qualities. It must sit and culture 40 minutes. Then add calcium and rennet, a substance from the lining of the stomach of calves, to curd. Making cheese is lengthy and you use chemistry in the process.
Donna pets one of her babies. She owns 20 goats and they graze in green pastures above the barn. A retired operating room nurse, she enjoys the quiet life on the mountain farm.
The black and tan goats are French Alpines and produce milk. The milking station is located at the barn.
Goats are curious animals. They checked me out when I visited the farm.
Here are some milk goats and the white animals produce meat.
Goats thrive in rocky and mountainous areas. Goat's milk is easier to digest than cow's milk. It is an important source of milk for many babies, elderly people, and folks with stomach ailments.
Notice here that Donna uses an electric fence to keep the animals from getting out of the pasture.
This billy goat wonders who is that lady taking his photo.
Here's another billy goat posing for the camera.
This billy goat sits on his house and watches the visitors at the farm.
Donna Gains uses rotational grazing on her farm. Goats eat a wide variety of plants and use their small mouths and flexible lips to grasp, and pick leaves. Goats can cover a wide area searching for food.
It was an adventure touring the goat farm.
For more information about the High Mountain Meadows Farm and Creamery, go to: www.southernappalachianfamilyfarms.com.