Saturday, July 5, 2014

'Hi, I’m the Goat Cheese Lady'

Posted By on Sat, Jul 5, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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I’ve said it so many times, I can almost say it with a straight face: “Hi, I’m Lindsey, The Goat Cheese Lady.”

Whoever I'm meeting, however, usually cracks a smile, or chuckles, or even outright laughs. After beginning with a flimsy grasp, they'll shake hands whole-heartedly in response to my bone-shattering milker-hand grip.

I wasn’t always Lindsey, The Goat Cheese Lady. I’ve been lots of things: a wanna-be Laura Ingalls, a wife and mom, an athlete, a waitress, a college graduate, a coffee-holic, an occupational therapist, a real estate investor, a born entrepreneur and a do-it-yourselfer. Being The Goat Cheese Lady was never part of my life plan. 

But my husband, Herbert, and I have always liked to do things ourselves. If we see a bookshelf for sale, we don’t buy it, we say, “We can build that ourselves!” If we see food for sale, we often don’t buy it, we say, “We can grow that ourselves!”

Four years ago, the same happened with milk. I’d been buying the cheapest milk at the grocery store — whatever was on sale — because our then 2-year-old was drinking lots of it. I recall looking at the label of the plastic gallon of milk one day and reading, "Distributed from Ohio."

Weird. I live in Colorado.

Three days later it rotted, and in the gentle words of my mom, that’s just not going to work.

So we decided on our usual DIY approach. Cows may not fit in the back of our truck, but goats do, so goats it was.

Enter Craigslist. Where else would you get caprine animals?

Herbert had built half the pen when we left for Boone, Colo., to pick up the two giant uddered creatures. After a three-hour ride and building the rest of the fence under the 95-degree sun, we were exhausted. Then we realized we still had to milk.

Having never owned, housed, cared for or milked goats before, it took five of us 45 minutes to milk two goats ... but WE HAD MILK! (To put it in perspective, it now takes three minutes and only one of us.) We began getting one gallon a day from our does, and after a week, reality set in: We had to figure out what to do with it.

That’s how I learned to make cheese — not out of desire, but necessity. You can stop buying milk from the store at any time, but you cannot cut off the flow of milk from two goats. You learn to use it quickly. Cheese, lotion, soap, butter, ice cream, kefir, yogurt; anything you can think of.

For a short time, I sold fresh goat cheese to a restaurant here in town — then I quickly stopped, when I learned I had to have multiple licenses and specifically regulated facilities to legally sell cheese. During those naïve days as a local urban goat farmer and artisan cheese maker, I delivered to the back door of the restaurant every Thursday. The kitchen staff never could remember my name; they just yelled to the restaurateur, ”The Goat Cheese Lady’s here!”

In coming weeks, I’ll share more about the ins and outs of my work. But until then, remember it's now legal to keep two (sub-100-pound) goats. Start getting your own milk and making your own cheese!

Lindsey is a city girl turned urban farm girl. She and her family are the proud stewards of a few milking goats, a lot of working chickens, an organic garden and a budding orchard. Just around the corner is the city. But she, and her farm, are hidden by the rocks. Follow her on Twitter (@goatcheeselady) and FaceBook (The Goat Cheese Lady) or visit her website (thegoatcheeselady.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Lindsey at: thegoatcheeselady@gmail.com.

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