Friendly goats make great cheese

Central Leader - - NEWS - By RANI TIMOTI

It may sound a bit cheesy – but goats can be real char­ac­ters.

The ones from Kumeu’s Cres­cent Dairy Goats have en­dear­ing names such as Chilli and Nesta, and a fam­i­lyof mum Brie, daugh­ter Cheezel and grand­daugh­ter Edam.

Linger by their fence and they think you’re go­ing to feed them. Friendly noses try to nudge closer to a pos­si­ble snack.

From some of th­ese goats, the fam­ily busi­ness will con­tinue to pro­duce milk, cheese and yo­ghurt to sat­isfy the tastes of their reg­u­lar cus­tomers in­clud­ing The Dairy in Pon­sonby Cen­tral. The cheeses fea­ture on the menus of many top New Zealand restau­rants.

Dis­cern­ing judges have given th­ese ar­ti­san cheeses lip-smack­ing ap­proval with a num­ber of awards.

Jan and John Wal­ter and their daugh­ter Emily Ward run the or­ganic dairy goat farm where they have a shop and host tours.

‘‘Goats make good pets. You get a lot back from them com­pared to some other farm an­i­mals.

‘‘Our ones stand out from the herd with their nice and friendly per­son­al­i­ties,’’ Emily says.

The fam­ily, who have had more than 25 kids born this year, re­tain a se­lec­tion to keep the blood­lines fresh and sell the rest.

Emily’s two chil­dren were weaned on the goats’ milk; they also know how to make cheese and love eat­ing it.

‘‘It’s good for them to learn where the milk and cheese come from,’’ Emily says.

She grew up at­tend­ing A&P shows, es­pe­cially the Kumeu Show.

For the first time this year, the farm opened to the pub­lic for the first New Zealand cheese month or­gan­ised by the New Zealand Spe­cial­ist Cheese­mak­ers As­so­ci­a­tion.

The event was so suc­cess­ful, at­tract­ing more than 1000 peo­ple, that it may be­come an an­nual oc­ca­sion.

Visi­tors pat­ted new­born kids, checked out the milk­ing area and sheds, looked through the cheese­mak­ing ar­eas and cheese ripen­ing cel­lar, and tasted the good­ies.

Emily says the goats get milked twice a day ev­ery day; they trot into the sheds to have a feed and re­ceive an or­ganic drench as a tonic for their im­mune sys­tems.

The cheese mak­ing starts in the morn­ing us­ing fresh milk and by the af­ter­noon it’s cheese.

The fam­ily cheese mak­ing be­gan 13 years ago when the Wal­ters lived in Al­bany.

They owned a goat to pro­vide the house­hold with milk. The goat had kids and be­fore long there was raw, fresh pro­duce for sale at the gate.

Cus­tomers sug­gested Jan make cheese and now her recipes con­sis­tently win ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing some at the 2013 New Zealand Cheese Awards.

‘‘Cheese is a lovely tex­ture to work with – quite mag­i­cal. You leave your cheese room at the end of the day and come in the morn­ing and see them all ready,’’ Jan says.

Lit­tle flat whites are the most pop­u­lar cheese for cus­tomers and they got their name from Jan mak­ing them in a pan or dish.

Jan’s favourite is one of the first cheeses she made – old gold, hard with a sweet nutty flavour and good to chew.

She says the nicest to make are the flat white and feta va­ri­eties.

The cou­ple, who three chil­dren and have

two grand­chil­dren, moved in 2009 to their 5ha prop­erty.

Like their flock of friendly goats, they hope to grow in the grace­ful trade of mak­ing cheese.

Care­ful course: Milk tem­per­a­ture is vi­tal as Emily Ward con­tin­ues her mother’s tra­di­tion.

Nosy does: The shak­ing of a bucket brings a line of nan­nies (does).

Leafy im­print: Net­tles from the farm make a dis­tinc­tive show­ing on one of the pop­u­lar cheeses – the Farm­house St­ing.

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