Friendly goats make great cheese
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.