Because of this we have to remain highly flexible. As we get to know the land better and as it evolves over time we have to adapt our business to make the best use of it. The more time we’ve spent on the farm the more we’ve come to appreciate the fact that right now the land is more suited for dairy goats than it is for dairy cows. Our land is full of wooded areas, cedar saplings, and blackberry bushes. Years of pasture negligence have led to nearly complete erosion of soil organic matter and a rapid increase in “weed” growth. Well, it just so happens that goats tend to prefer many of the “weeds” we're growing and we want to use that to our advantage.
The original vision for our raw milk cheese production was to use cow’s milk. It’s the milk Sweetbreads has the most experience with and we envisioned open pastures where cows could thrive. We have about 40-45 acres in wooded/rocky land and 35-40 in pasture. A good mix for grazing animals and woodlot animals (pigs). Over the past month or two, however, we’ve slowly adapted our vision to the current state of the property. We asked ourselves what would work best and we let that guide the decision-making process. Rather than forcing cows onto marginal pasture and risking a bad situation we’ve decided to invest in dairy goats. Goats will thrive on the land as it currently stands, while cows would most likely struggle. The cows would almost certianly need substantial feed and minerals from outside sources. Depending on how our soil samples come back we may need to provide minerals for the goats as well, but at a minimum the goats should be able to forage the majority of their diet from our land.
It was a long-debated and researched decision. We’ve been discussing the details for months now and eventually it weaved its way into the fabric of our lives without ever really making it onto the blog. Goats have a reputation for being rambunctious, but I’m really excited about them. The majority of the creameries we've visited used goats either exclusively or in combination with cows and I'm really excited to try fresh goat's milk. Oh, and all the goat people we’ve met in Tennessee (and everywhere else for that matter) are awesome and have been a huge help. We can't wait to get out there and get going!