|Booker with Annie, born last May|
Did we mention that he's 13?!
He raises his own goats, milks them every day, and makes cheese.
We first heard about Booker from his mother, Larissa:
I have been amazed by son's interest and steadily increasing skills. We had a harvest potluck recently, and he prepared a plate of manchego, ricotta salata with paprika, and chevre rolled in chopped rosemary. It was a beautiful plate, and was devoured.
He milks his goat every morning, and now that she is drying off, he is having us make runs to a local dairy for raw cows' milk.
He built his own cheese press (when we refused to buy him the $300 one he wanted), and is now looking for a cabinet he can modify to make a cheese cabinet...
Amazing, and we are the lucky ones who get to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
I asked Booker:
Do you live on a farm?
Before we moved, we were living in Brooklyn, NY. We moved, and then slowly started acquiring different animals. We had several chickens in our backyard in Brooklyn, then once we got upstate we quickly got more.
I am living on a hobby farm now, we have four horses, four turkeys (not after Thanksgiving), an ever changing amount of chickens, and for now five goats. At least two (if Annie is eighty pounds by January she will too) will be bred this winter. So next year we'll have a lot more babies, and milk, and cheese.
How did you get into raising goats?
I can't really remember what drew me to them, but I remember in the last year before we moved upstate, I was totally obsessed with them, and it was all I wanted to talk about.
For my 12th birthday in 2011, we went to the only Nubian breeder that wasn't 12 hours away from us, Lynnhaven. I got two little reject (meaning they weren't show quality, Ruby had 'bad' ears, I don't know what was wrong with Jeanie) does from her, in April.
We bred them that December. Jeanie, the bigger one got ketosis and died that spring, but Ruby, the other one, had an adorable buckling, and an adorable doeling the next month.
Goats are just fun, they're incredibly personable and friendly and adorable. They hear you talking in the distance and yell out loudly. One of the wethers we have (neutered boy) we like to say is a cat. His favorite pastime is to sit in someone's lap and chew his cud next to their ear. It's going to be more difficult when he gets to be 200 pounds!
So, are you milking Ruby now?
For my 12th birthday in 2011, we got the two does that started the herd I have now.
This year I had one goat give birth, Ruby, and she was giving me a half gallon of milk once a day. Frustrated with the amount I was getting, I went to the breeder and got another, one that was already milking.
She has a lot of deep seated anxiety, she doesn't handle change well, so she only gave me about a cup. I recently stopped milking both, although Ruby still makes a little, for her babies.
Before when I could get enough milk to make a gallon batch I was making all of the cheese with goat's milk, but now I use raw cow's from a local dairy farm.
|Chevre hanging in the kitchen|
How did you decide to make cheese?
I started doing it because that's just like what the plan was. We had goats, then goat's milk, so the immediate thought was to make goat cheese.
I've made ricotta, mozzarella, chèvre, ricotta salata, manchego, and on Monday my first gouda (not all with my goat's milk, the manchego and gouda were with raw cow's milk from a local dairy farm). I plan to make several cheddars, and a bunch of mold and bacteria ripened cheese this winter - blue, swiss, muenster, just experimenting, you know?
We know, Booker, we know.
|Getting cheese out of the mold|
|Booker made his own press.|
|Cutting the manchego|
|Trying the manchego|
|Booker's cheese plate for their harvest party.|