Dancing Goats Dairy – Artisan Cheese in Coastal New England:

Dancing Goats Dairy has been a dream years in the making. 

After spending three years perfecting our recipes, growing our herd, developing our business plan, and planning our cheese room construction, we broke ground on our state of the art cheese kitchen in June of 2014 and opened our doors to the public selling lovingly-made, artisanal cheese in March of 2015. It’s been a whirlwind of a year! We’ve gotten wonderful feedback from our customers, peers, and the media about our cheeses, our farm and our message. We’ve also gotten many requests from customers, farmers’ markets, local cheese shops and distributors who want to help us bring our cheeses to a wider audience in Massachusetts and beyond. Such wonderful feedback has inspired us to make our dream farm even bigger and add more goats to the herd to help bring you more delicious cheese.

But to expand to meet this demand, we need help from all of you!

In this past year, we’ve discovered some bottlenecks and business challenges.

Your contributions will help accomplish 5 important goals:

Building out our kidding barn will help us to create a warm, safe place for our newest additions. Expanding our herd means welcoming new kids this spring. Around fifty kids to be precise! That’s a lot of fluffy, glorious, adorableness to house.  The plans for our kidding barn renovation include a maternity stall for birthing mothers, separate pens for different age groups of kids (eliminating the fight for food and space between age groups that often injures kids or keeps them from thriving), fire-safe heating pads for cold winter nights to eliminate the need for unsafe heat lamps, and access to a grassy loafing and climbing area once the weather warms up.

Winterizing the buck barn. While our girls may be the most obvious of the hard workers on our team (birthing the babies and bringing you sweet, delicious milk) the bucks are the unsung heroes of the team. While our boys do their hardest work in the fall (during breeding season when mother nature comes calling), it takes two to tango, and the boys are a pivotal part of what keeps our lovely little farm running. While they spent the last winter in the main barn with all of our girls, the expanding herd size means its time to give them a winter space of their own. Our plan is to insulate their current summer barn and add a wall of the greenhouse siding that we use on all of our other barns. This takes advantage of the barn’s southern exposure to harness heat from the sun during the day and help to hold onto it longer to keep our boys warm and cozy on those long winter nights when they’re not courting their ladies. 

Revamping our packaging will allow us to cut down on several labor intensive steps so that we can spend more time making delicious cheese and less time getting it dressed. Our current packaging involves predominantly handwritten and hand-assembled components. By narrowing this down to a few handmade touches instead of several dozen, we can get more cheese out to those who love it faster!

New packaging will also allow us to expand to include more specialty cheese shops, small groceries, and other retail locations. By supplying more of the information to consumers that we would generally get to tell them in person at our farmers markets (our mission to provide a lovingly made, wholesome product, the care we give to our beloved goats, flavor profiles, pairing suggestions, and other wonderful tidbits) we can maintain the dialogue with our customers that we value so highly and has given us such success this year. The most resounding feedback we’ve heard this year is that people would like to see our cheeses closer to where they live and work. Expanding our reach throughout the North Shore and into the Boston area will allow more people to enjoy the wonders of lovingly made artisanal goat cheese.

Creating an office space. Our lack of a designated office space at the farm has also been a huge barrier to us expanding our wholesale accounts. Anyone who’s ever been at a farm knows that the farmers rarely get to leave, we have to fit the least exciting aspects of farming (balancing the books, paying bills, etc.) into the few moments throughout the day when we’re between chores. While we have managed up to this point to get by splitting our office work hours between pop-up sessions on a camp table in the cheese room and after hours work at home, it tends to result in backing up of all things electronic. This has been particularly inhibiting to us as it has made it difficult for us to take on more wholesale clients and still be confident we could keep up with invoicing, orchestrating deliveries/pickups, and shipping. The remainder of the funds raised for this project will go towards renovating, insulating and finishing a small outbuilding next to the cheese room into a farm office. This will help keep our business on track as we grow, with better email response to customers, more up-to-date electronic invoicing for our wholesale clients, and an all-round tighter run ship.

Every thrilling and wild adventure has its humble beginnings. The unlikely story of my little dairy is no different. The eyes of people who knew me ten years ago boggle out of there heads when they hear that I have shucked my stilettos in favor of Chippewas, traded my pencil skirts for Carhartts, and decided to farm. How did a bookwormy French major decide that what she really wanted to do was raise goats? The credit is precariously balanced on the shoulders of a term abroad in France, the warm embrace of Upstate New York’s slow food movement, and a kiss from Fate in the form of a most unusual job listing. 

My passion for good food and cheese was cultured into existence during the four months I spent in my Junior year of college in Rennes, France. I found myself abroad on my own for the first time, in a culinary mecca, and living with a host mother with a serious obsession with cheese. Like, really gooey, nasty (in a good way), stinkers! Growing up in a household where Cabot’s Mild Cheddar was breaking out the good stuff, this was quite the adventure for me. I remember having the cheese plate handed to me at the end of my first meal and being offered up a sizable hunk of Roquefort. My fear and trepidation were unwarranted… it was glorious! From that moment on I was in love with all things cheese. 

Upon my return to the States I immersed myself in the whole food and sustainability culture of Upstate New York. I was newly fascinated by farm-fresh ingredients and all things homemade. I spent more and more of my time with other students excited about sustainable agriculture and frequented Schenectady’s year-round Greenmarket where I was constantly pestering the vendors, asking about their different farms and learning about their passion for farming. I began to envy the satisfaction that living closer to the land brought them.

After my graduation I bounced around a bit, finding nothing that thrilled me, a waitressing job here, the occasional bout of unemployment there. While living in Boston scoping out potential jobs in the area, I came across a job posting that would shape my life as I know it. The herd managers of Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vermont were looking for a kidding intern. They were looking for someone willing to work long hours (about 80 a week), in less than ideal climactic conditions (i.e. wading through waist high snow to bring five gallon buckets of water to the chickens) for little to no money (the weekly stipend of $100 was just enough to feed yourself). In exchange, the intern would learn all they wanted to know about goat husbandry. What did I have to lose? At the very least it sounded much more exciting than being unemployed for the next three months. Worst-case scenario I would have really interesting story to tell. So, astounding my friends and family, I applied for the job. After a few phone interviews (to be sure that I wouldn’t break into tears at the first blister from mucking stalls for hours or the first infant mortality among the extraordinarily adorable, fluffy baby goats) I was packing up to move out to Southern Vermont to be a glorified goat midwife/pooper scooper. My family was convinced I would come crawling back to “civilization” before my three-month internship was over. I surprised them all by saying that I never wanted to go back. 

I spent about a year at Consider Bardwell, first as a kidding intern, learning to birth goats, milk and make a farm run, then another several months in the cheese room as an apprentice, learning the delicate art of turning that toiled for milk into a culinary masterpiece. After a while though I began to miss the proximity of my friends and family and decided to endeavor to find a farm closer to my hometown in Massachusetts where I could raise my very own herd of goats. 

Soon after moving back to the North Shore of Massachusetts I began working with a close family friend who owned Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA, just a short ride down the road from my family’s home. We struck a bargain, I could have a place to keep and raise my two new goats (favorites from Consider Bardwell that year) and in exchange I would work at the farm which was comprised of a retail store, a large vegetable and flower growing operation, a small orchard and a variety of animals raised for meat. Over the next three years, I continued my rookie farmer education under the wing of one of the most driven, business-savvy farmers I have ever known, all the while caring for my goats and slowly growing a small milking herd. 

In 2014, I was confident enough in my dream to turn my fledgling hobby farm into a licensed cheese making operation. After years of planning, months of construction, and a lot of blood, sweat, and (thankfully only a few) tears, Dancing Goats Dairy became a reality. It’s been quite the adventure this past year, and a pleasure to have been able to share my dream with so many other impassioned people in my community. With your help, we hope to be able to spread the dream even further! 

Thank you so much for visiting our page!

All of these efforts have gained us a lot of attention. You can learn more about us by having a look:

Edible Boston (Summer 2015)

Northshore Magazine (November 2015)

Style Me Pretty Living (August 2014)

Newburyport Daily News “Celebrating Chevre” (October 2015)

Miss Cheesemonger (June 2015)

Newburyport Daily News “New Kids on the Block” (March 2015)

Farm life tends to come with a constant to-do list. In the event that we surpass our goal, we have several plans we would love to implement that could help us keep the farm running in the smoothest fashion possible.

Our most exciting new plan, and the one we hope to accomplish next after our kidding barn and buck barn projects is to install security cameras in the barn (think of them as goat-y baby monitors) to help us to watch over the goats late at night during kidding season. This helps to cut down on our 3 A.M. false alarm birth checks as the mama’s get closer to their due dates.

If we manage to surpass our goal enough to implement this project, we hope to be able to offer several live broadcasts of baby births to our customers and fans through our website.   

Please share this link [https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dancinggoatsdairy/dancing-goats-dairy-artisan-cheese-in-coastal-new] with all your friends and help us complete our journey to bring cheese to your hometown. You can also sign up for our email newsletter (best way to get updates), and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

We just want to take a moment to thank the artists who contributed their work to making this campaign beautiful. Extra special thank you’s to Mary Boland of Anchor Hitch Media who filmed and edited our Kickstarter Video.

After spending three years perfecting our recipes, growing our herd, developing our business plan, and planning our cheese room construction, we broke ground on our state of the art cheese kitchen in June of 2014 and opened our doors to the public selling lovingly-made, artisanal cheese in March of 2015. It’s been a whirlwind of a year! We’ve gotten wonderful feedback from our customers, peers, and the media about our cheeses, our farm and our message.
See Campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dancinggoatsdairy/dancing-goats-dairy-artisan-cheese-in-coastal-new?ref=category_featured
Contact Information:
Erin Bligh

Kickstarter, United States, Reward, English, Food, Food and Beverage, Industry verticals, Regions, Types of Crowdfunding deal, Massachusetts, Language


Source: ICNW

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