Aren’t they beautiful! I have asked for some more photos, and when I have them, I will post them on this blog.
These gorgeous, intelligent and funny, productive creatures are responsible for our goat milk. Until about 12 years ago, Ribblesdale Cheese had our own goats, just a small herd of about 75 who were kept in the now semi-derlict barn and let out in the fields around Ashes Farm on good behaviour. Looking after 75 goats and making cheese is a massive task and too much for my uncle at the time, who sold the goats around 1998 and started to buy local goat milk in.
Today, we source 100% of all our goat’s milk from Jenny and Jonathan Robertshaw’s herd at Hackfall Farm in Grewelthorpe in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. We are very proud to be partners with Jenny and Robert who do a grand job with their goats and produce excellent quality milk. They having been looking after and milking goats for over ten years, so have plenty of experience and it shows. We buy in the region of 150,000 litres a year – which is quite a lot for a small three person cheese maker.
The milk is transported to us by Mark, Jonathan’s brother, in a very professional looking stainless steel insulated tank that holds around 2,300 litres. He has a tiny but near silent pump that pumps the milk into our containers for pasteurisation direct into the vat. It takes around 15 minutes to pump 2,000 litres.
About the goats
The goats are very sociable, intelligent, inquisitive and playful animals. They are very friendly and the only time they are unhappy is when it rains, as goats don’t like getting wet. They eat maize hay and a small amount of soya, sugar beet and wheat feed – Jonathan grows all their own maize and hay on his farm. The goats are milked twice a day and they lie on beds of barley straw.
There are 500 nanny goats, (that’s a lot!) 6 billy goats, 40 cattle, 2 cats and one sheep dog all surrounded by green fields and the beautiful Hackfall Woods. The farm is managed very extensively and Jonathan and Jenny are part of the Farm Entry Level Environmental Scheme and are Independently Farm Assured (FABBL).
From a cheese making perspective
The goat’s milk is always creamy and sweet smelling and tastes slightly sweet, clean and a little nutty. Because the milk is so fresh, it is never goaty smelling or tasting and never pungent. This means that it makes a beautiful, clean tasting cheese, no matter what we make.
Jonathan also has some of his milk bottled, you can order it from his website: it is
available in one litre plastic bottles in both 2% semi-skimmed and 4% whole goat milk. We use it at work in place of cow’s milk and we also sell it. Jonathan’s website has some testimonials from people who find using goat milk better for their health than cow’s milk.
We have just started to make goat butter from Jonathan’s milk – when you bottle, you need to take off some of the fat, using a separator. This fat is cream so we agreed to have a go at making butter – see the post above for more details.