I don’t even know where to begin. I’m still so elated. Harley Farms Goat Dairy is fantastic, and their tour is well worth it. I mean I can’t even… They let me hold a baby goat – multiple baby goats, in fact. They let us in the field. Like opened up the gate, and let us run wild. I feel like we were the animals here. A FIELD OF LLAMAS AND PREGNANT GOATS.
Who let’s people just ‘have at it’? Yes, there was pooping and peeing and poop and pee piles, but after a second, we gave up caring because goddamnit, goats and llamas! Of course, we had been warned. Closed toes shoes!
My friend, A, learned about Harley Farms through a cheese class that she was gifted, and planned our tour in time for baby goat season which started in mid-March. As of our tour date, March 23rd, they had 105 new baby goats. This season they bred their goats with one male. ONE MALE. After breeding season, the male goat gets sent to a neighboring field where he can relax and refresh after getting busy all fall. Imagine being that goat.
Harley Farms, a sustainable goat dairy farm, is located in Pescadero, which is approximately an hour or so south of San Francisco. We arrived in Pescadero around 12pm and strolled through their main street. Their markets and vendors sell honey, other local produce, and bread (which looked amazing). Our tour of the farm began at 1pm and our lovely tour guide went over the history of the dairy farm that was restored by Dee Harley. Harley started out with only 6 Alpine goats, which were initially given to her to help clean up the land that she had just acquired with the purchase of her home. In exchange, she would milk them by hand, and give back milk in return. Eventually, she learned to breed the goats, purchased some milking machinery, and started making cheese.
I sampled some pretty fresh award winning cheeses, and oh my! Awarding winning for sure. I left with a cheese log and some cheese buttons. Harley Farm also hosts foraging trips, cheese classes, as well as farm dinners that start at $150pp including a farm tour, and a five course meal. And though I didn’t sign up for a dinner, we did get to see their hayloft and the beautiful large dining table and chairs that were immaculately hand-carved from a fallen tree.
It certainly is a labor of love to keep up a goat dairy farm. Goat milking happens twice a day, every day, and takes about three hours for their herd of 200. The goats get corralled into the milking parlour in groups, and let out through another exit once they’ve been milked, eliminating the need to count/check which goats have or haven’t been milk. Since it relieves their heavily bloated udders (milk boobies!), they enjoy being milked, but another incentive is that they get fed grains/nutrients that are missing in the grass while they are being milked.
To make sure that their goat milk is consistent, and that the goats stay healthy, an expert checks their field a few times a year to measure the nutrients in the land, and whatever is missing in the field, gets put into their feed. SCIENCE! Before every milking, the goats are also checked for infections, and after every milking their milking parlour is thoroughly sanitized. Once milked, they are free to roam the field, protected by their guard llamas, who apparently hate coyotes and other goat predators. To me, those llamas just look like loafs.. loafs of love. My new bff and I even took a selfie!
Before going into the dairy, we put on some hair nets for maximum sexiness, and I guess also to keep our hair from getting anywhere that might touch the cheese. Each goat produces about a gallon of milk per day, and each gallon is turned into one pound of cheese. The pumped milk gets pasteurized, and is heated up to 145 degrees for 30 minutes. Then it’s cooled to 80 degrees, and a special blend of cultures and vegetable rennet is added. Once it coagulates, they pour everything into cloth cheese bags to separate the curds and whey, which takes about a day or day and a half, depending on the type of cheese they are making.
After finished separating, they massage in kosher salt, creating their base chef cheese. Softer cheeses like their spreads contain more whey and are taken out sooner. From there, they add different herbs to make various goat cheeses that can be sampled in their store. We sampled their chive, dill, raspberry walnut, sun-dried tomato, garlic and various other flavors. Award winning delicious cheese in my belly, please! If I could, I would have purchased all of the cheeses, but alas, my wallet only allowed for a few. If you bring some snacks and buy some cheese, it really makes for a nice day trip, but if you’re too far from Pescadero or California to make the trek to visit Harley Farms Goat Dairy, you can visit their online store. They sell their cheeses, and even their goat milk paint. Yeah, they make paint out of goat milk. #MINDBLOWN
Hope you enjoyed my rehash of the tour and photos! More pics of rambunctious baby goats, llamas, and pregnant goats here. Do you like goat cheese or have you tried there’s? I have to say, that I loved their garlic fromage blanc and chive chevre the most, but let’s be real; I liked them all. What’s your favorite? Any suggestions on other farms to check out? Let me know below!