On our way to Dallas last week for the first ever meeting of Texas cheesemakers, we stopped in Ft. Worth to meet the lovely Deborah Rogers and her expanding herd of goats. When I called Deborah the week prior, she had a lot of pregnant mamas, but no kids. When we arrived, the first 7 or so had come onto the scene, the latest only 45 minutes before we arrived.
"I make cheese so I can have more goats," says Deborah. A mostly self-taught cheesemaker and farmer, Deborah operates her farm in a manner that is unconventional and decidedly pro-goat.
On land that was once her grandparents', Deborah feeds the herd on grass and boughs, making her one of a few completely pasture-based American goat dairies.
She's especially generous with the babies, allowing them plenty of milk, even at the expense of her cheese operation.
"Babies are the future of this farm," she explains. And mama's milk is key to their health: "If goats are unhealthy when they're little, they are never quite right. I suppose it's like people."
Deborah's indulgent with her goats in other ways. She keeps ten bucks, instead of the typical one or two. She likes them, for one, and wants to give the herd more genetic diversity. The bucks even get to keep their horns and hang out with the girls most of the time - she gives no credence to the belief that they can make the milk taste goat-y.
And what about her cheese? We're waiting excitedly for our first tastes, as soon as there's enough milk to spare!