I rolled up to Scarlett Payne’s farm and she greeted me with a friendly “You must by my biking friend!” Her mother was there to get some goat milk for a baby llama, so we headed out to the barn with Radar the dog and her daughter Tiffany to milk a couple of goats.
Scarlett is a Certified Natural Health Practitioner, and a big believer in the importance of drinking milk raw, complete with its natural enzymes and bacteria. Therefore, she runs her farm as a goatshare program, so people sign a private contract, essentially paying Scarlett to take care of their goats so they can consume the milk they produce.
She raises her animals without hormones, on hay raised on the farm with no pesticides, and with no organic certification. Although everything she does is “organic,” and she has plans to install a Grade-A pour-through milking system in her barn, Scarlett has convinced me that state and federal regulations are what make farming so expensive, and especially dairy (or meat) farming. She raises her own hay, composts her manure, and rotationally grazes her goats on pasture. Without having to pay extra for certified inspectors and processing fees, Scarlett sells milk at $3.50/quart, and profits from these sales – from milk from only six goats – has paid for their hay, grain, and significant farm upkeep and improvements.
Worldwide, goat meat and milk are the most consumed of any dairy animal. They consume vastly less energy and food as cows, and produce much more milk than sheep, and they can survive in much harsher environments than other species. In addition, goat milk is healthier and easier to digest than cow’s milk – many people who are unable to digest cow milk are not lactose intolerant at all. Goat milk just digests faster than cow milk because the protein and fat molecules are smaller – it makes sense; goat calves are much closer to human baby size than cow calves are. Goat milk is also high in organic sodium, which maintains the body’s pH and makes the stomach more able to digest proteins.
See, I learned a lot from Scarlett! And, the goat milk was so tasty I have no reason to doubt any of it. Her goats are almost all Saanen goats, which are the best milkers. She also has had La Mancha goats and crossbred Nubians. Right now she is milking 6, but her dream is to have 20 milkers, producing 20 gallons of milk a day. She also raises turkeys and chickens, I mobile cages that she drags across the grass every day with a two-wheeler, leading the clucking birds to fresh new grass that they gobble up eagerly.
I had never made goat yogurt before, and the goat cheese we made at La Chevalerie was “goaty” enough that I would never have expected a creamy yogurt to result from the milk. Scarlett’s milk proved me wrong, however – the taste was sweet and delicious, smooth and drinkable. It wasn’t like the thick yogurt that I try to make with cow’s milk, but it was delicious, and if I can get my hands on good goat milk again, I certainly will jump on the opportunity!