HERDS & CURDS
NAUGHTY YET LOVEABLE, THE GOODMAN FAMILY’S GOATS ARE NOT JUST PETS BUT THE RAW AND RATHER VOCAL TALENT IN A CHEESEMAKING SUCCESS STORY
The experts weren’t kidding around when they awarded cheesemaker Amanda Goodman top prize for her cheese
TEN-YEAR-OLD EMILY GOODMAN has a special talent. She can recognize and name every one of the 80 goats on the family property south of Martinborough by the pinkness of their noses. It’s a skill that comes in useful when a resourceful kid manages to escape a pen, scale a fence, wiggle in through the cat flap and nibble contentedly on the scatter cushions. Emily can identify the culprit.
Not that there is likely to be much punishment for such kidding around. Emily’s parents Amanda and Lindsey Goodman are completely charmed by the mischievous nature of their friendly flock. “They’re part of the family,” says Amanda.
At first glance, their weatherboard cottage built in the 1960s looks a typical specimen. Painted off-white, it sits close to the road on this 290-hectare sheep and beef farm. Concrete stairs lead up to the veranda but closer inspection reveals the pots of spring tulips at the front door have been brutally cut off in their prime. Gardening and goats are not natural partners.
Amanda loves pastels, particularly pale pink and duck-egg blue, so the interiors with cork floors and pretty floral fabrics have a Cath Kidston-meets-Kiwi-casual style. But before settling into the rolledarm couch in the front room, be sure to take a second glance in case Gracie has made herself at home in its cosy capaciousness. “Gracie was born six weeks premature so we hand reared her and she became very ‘humanized’,” explains Amanda.
Sharing the sofa with the odd ungulate and random incidents of sacrificial vegetation does not deter the Goodmans. In fact, diversifying into goat breeding and cheesemaking has been a blessing in every way.
‘For many, the traditional idea of goat’s cheese is tied to the whiff of smelly old socks. I really get a thrill out of showing how mild and clean the cheese can taste’
Amanda’s parents, who own the farm and live in a house just over the fence, were part of the mohair boom in the 1980s. “I remember playing with Petra, my pet angora, who was an absolute character.” When the couple’s children Emily (10), Samuel (8) and Phoebe (6) were old enough, she wanted them to have a similar experience. “I still had a hankering for goats so we got two as pets.”
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. All the children love the goats, but Emily is a natural at animal husbandry. She keeps a spreadsheet of every newborn addition and her grandma gave her a baby-name book to help in their christening. “Dinnertable discussions around kidding time are always very lively,” says Amanda.
Since there was no dairy co-op collection of goat milk in the Wairarapa, making cheese from the rich milk gleaned from their growing tribe of saanen and nubian goats was the next option. Amanda, who has a degree in marketing from Victoria University, threw herself into the research. While she studied, she also attended a number of short courses at The New Zealand Cheese School in Putaruru.
For a while, the children were not best pleased. Instead of the comforting aromas of baking wafting from the kitchen, there were the slightly sour tones of milky madness – and a sink and sideboard piled high with stainless pans. “There was a lot of trial and error, learning the milk and how to adjust when there were environmental changes.”
THESE PAGES: At milking time, the goats can’t wait to get onto the stand where they are fed a specially formulated grain mix containing maize, barley, peas and molasses; Lindsey is foreman of milking then the rich, raw product is passed on to Amanda...
THIS PAGE: Keeping the goats well fed and entertained is a full- time responsibility. Here Lindsey heads out on his four- wheeler to feed out hay. Lottie, a british alpine (above), takes a keen interest in the photographer. OPPOSITE: In the hay barn...
THESE PAGES: Amanda is a fan of the shabby chic look and has dressed the farmhouse with country- style colour; Gracie grabs her chance to steal a grape from the kitchen table; in the kitchen, the butcher’s block was a wedding present from the couple’s...