We Have Goat's Milk!
Technically, we've always had goat milk but now we finally have our license to sell it! As the Hippie Farmer, I have taken a love for goat milk. I grew up on a farm/bed and breakfast in Jackson, New Hampshire. Although I never grew up with goats, I knew I wanted to have my own goats as a smaller animal. One of my friends started a goat farm and sells soaps in Rhode Island. Her business is called Sparrow Soaps. She was ready to part ways with some of her angora goats, which are not dairy goats, and I decided to bring them to my farm. I started fiber goats which is actually a lot harder than it looks. When you have fiber goats you need to be able to keep their wool clean and dry in order to produce fiber. We have a very wet farm climate which made this process difficult. I ended up selling the fiber goats and got dairy goats.
After taking a soap making class, I began to fall in love with goat milk soap. Goat milk soap is natural and a toxin free alternative to traditional soap. It has many benefits including the ability to naturally exfoliate and provide many vitamins to the skin. Goat milk soap has many other benefits which you can read more about here; https://goatmilkstuff.com/pages/goat-milk-soap-benefits. I found my passion with the soap I create because it feels right to be able to bring such a wonderful and natural product to my community. I could not be more thankful and proud of my goats and the soap I'm able to provide, thanks to their milk. Within a couple of years I went from a table outside of my house, to selling at markets, to the farm stand outside and now I also have my barn store. You can purchase the soap online, at the stand or during the barn store's business hours.
Thanks to goat milk soaps I was able to afford all of my goats. I always knew from the beginning of journey with goats that I wanted to be able to produce and sell raw goat milk. Not only do I love the benefits of raw goat milk; I also love goat cheese. In order to make delicious goat cheese, you need raw milk. Raw milk products are not pasteurized, homogenized, fortified or by any means altered. This means it's not heated, crushed or "enhanced". This allows for the active enzymes, proteins, fats and beneficial bacteria to remain in their natural state producing many health benefits. You can read more about the health benefits of raw goat milk here: https://rawfarmusa.com/blog/top-7-health-benefits-of-raw-goats-milk?fbclid=IwAR1KLMWp6nc8ds66fd6CRChKM0Mj7r28MrMsVudOxzAJj7QWVN92-3oj25U.
It's often hard for smaller farmers to be able to get their license to sell raw milk because it is very time consuming and pricey. It requires a lot of equipment including; a milk room, a milk parlor, stainless equipment, a three bay stainless sink and a hand washing sink. The difference between a milk parlor and milk room is that the parlor is where you milk the goats whereas the room is where the milk is kept and handled. These two rooms can not be connecting.
Once this is all done you can contact your town's board of health to get the green light for having raw goat milk. Then you contact the dairy commissioner which is state regulated and they start the process of inspections. The inspection process takes a considerable amount of time. During the initial inspection the state will make sure you have all of the equipment and they tell you what you're missing. After you're all set with the equipment, they begin testing the milk. You need to have three milk tests each at a certain number of weeks apart. Also, you won't know when the commissioner is coming to test the milk as these tests happen spontaneously. After you've had three tests in a row with good numbers then you can get your license to sell. From then on, you'll have monthly tests and if the numbers are where they need to be then you can continue selling. Anyone who sells raw milk in Massachusetts undergoes monthly testing. If one month your numbers aren't where they're supposed to be, they will shut you down.
For any testing of the milk, you have to reach specific numbers. We don't use any antibiotics, so we are automatically in the clear on those numbers. Another important number to mention is the Standard Plate Count. This is the measure of total aerobic bacteria in the milk. High SPC can be from dirty milking equipment, poor udder prep and poor cooling. The limit for SPC is 100,000 bacteria/ml of milk. The Somatic Cell Count is the count of white blood cells in the milk. This indicates the general health of the goat. The count should be under 100,000 cells/ ml of milk. Another important count to measure would be E.Coli. E.Coli count should be under 50/ml of milk. Through years of hard work and determination, our numbers have been on point during these tests and now we are able to legally sell goat milk!
We are so grateful for our community's support in helping us get to the point of being able to now have our license. Stop by our farm stand at anytime to purchase milk or other goat milk products. We also have our barn store open on Wednesdays 12-5 and Saturdays 10-4. You can order most of our products online as well!
For more in depth information about testing you can go here https://www.foxvalleyqclab.com/library/resources/MicrobiologicalSupplementalInformation_1.pdf.