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Really, the Goats are Many Colors

December 19, 2012

Raised in Toledo, Ohio, Dominique Wong had no plans to become a farmer. After receiving an undergraduate degree in biology from Cornell, she worked for a while before completing medical school. Her residency at Cabell Huntington Hospital’s emergency department was selected because the director permitted her to take off a few months each year to devote full time to her family. As her girls grew and she worked part time at the hospital, she home schooled them, and it was through that network that she met Shelly Keeley, who also was home schooling her children.DSC_0015

In discussion, their common interest in goats grew and soon they decided to start Yellow Goat Farm. Located on Dominique and her husband David’s 80 acres in Proctorville with most acreage kept in conservation status, they have about 5 acres of cleared pastures.

goat a




Currently they have 8 does.   Four are Nubians and the other 4 are Alpines. They have one buck at this time and are expecting a buck kid to arrive soon that will add a new bloodline to their breeding program.

The goats are very social animals and joined us as we walked part of the land, with the dogs and even a couple of cats also following.DSC_0010

Ohio law bans the sell of raw milk, but it is legal to buy a goat share. With that program a person pays a small monthly or annual fee to help cover the cost of their share of a goat. Then they are entitled to the raw milk, since they own a share of the goat.  Dominique and Shelley ran a goat share program but found that it tied them to the farm more than they expected and they decided to change the emphasis of their business.

At this point they breed their does and bucks and raise kids for sale. Each kid is bottle fed to get them very used to being with people. Dominique reported that some people purchase the dairy goats to get their own milk, but many people use the goats to clear land since they like to eat weeds and their small hooves leave little damage to the region’s hillsides.

milkingbmilkingcFeeling more and more like George Plimpton with all the new things I am learning at the farms, I asked Dominique if it would be possible for me to learn to milk a goat. It really was not difficult although my technique was considerably more hesitant than her speed.

The next thing for me to try was a taste. Dominique chilled the milk in an ice water bath in the kitchen sink and then filtered the milk. And then the taste. I wish we could offer a taste test at the Wild Ramp…it was not at all what I expected and I could easily switch to goat milk.


from Rick Steves’ Europe

In the U.S. we are used to soft goat cheeses but visiting her mother’s extended family in Switzerland Dominique learned that the  Swiss cows are herded to Alpine pastures for the summers, there is time to produce hard cheese from the milk. aged_goatcheese1Hard cheese is also easier to transport back to the valley towns when the summer season ends and the herd returns.  Apparently some goats are also herded to summer pasture also.

Dominique and Shelley make the more traditional soft goat cheese. Made from the raw milk, I tasted chevre, crottin and feta. Creamy and mild, all three were highly enjoyable.

lunch and soup

Shelley presented a recipe for Cabriole’s Dance Cheese, a wonderful crottin, in the Taming the Wild Ramp cookbook.

Unfortunately, the State of West Virginia does not permit the sale of raw milk or cheese made from raw milk. The farm would need to invest in equipment to pasteurize the milk as well as other machinery, all too expensive for a herd this size to produce a profit.  Until the law changes or the decision is made to change the business model, the best commercial use for the goat’s milk is to make soap. You can find Yellow Goat Farm soap at the Wild Ramp Market.soap1

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2012 12:53 pm

    Can’t buy raw milk, but we can find all the commercial milk with it’s growth hormones and antibiotics we want…. What’s wrong with this picture?

  2. December 19, 2012 1:31 pm

    Nice blog post. One of your best. Hit the personal reasons for wanting to have a small farm, care for dairy animals and the issues with doing so. Also provides positive elements in the business model decisions to continue the way of life chosen in the wake of federal and state guidelines that restrict raw milk sales. We all share similar sentiments.

    • December 19, 2012 7:03 pm

      Thanks… talking to Dominique and Shelley it is plainly evident that the joy of being with the goats had to be balanced with family time. They want their “hobby farm” to be self-sustaining and with the laws being what they are, the concept of expansion just is not viable at this time.

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