All posts by gothbergfarms

“Meet the Cheesemaker”

I had the pleasure of attending this event last night in Seattle as part of the American Cheese Society’s annual cheese convention.  The array of fine cheeses we are producing in the United States is phenomenal!  And the cheesemakers are just as terrific!  And OMG-the eaters, retailers, distributors, promoters……..unbelievable to have so many in one room!  There must have been about 600+ people there in all. Wow!  Loved seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and having totally cheesy conversations with those who actually share the love.  Amazing evening for me.

Our Cheese Table

Marcella Wright, or beloved Feline Foodie cheese blogger, was my ever capable “assistant”.   She is truly an angel.  I so appreciated her help, but more than that, I loved getting to know her better.  She has a great knowledge of many things and I think she knew almost everyone in the room!  Marcella, thank you again.

Our other long-time friends, Metropolitan Markets, did a super job of hosting.  It is so nice to for me to see the same faces and names with them for so many years now.  They are a great store, have the best employees, and are so supportive of us local producers.  Thanks to you Metropolitan Market!  Another beautiful, professional job accomplished.

And the people I got to meet………I only wish I could even hope to remember half the names, but of course I cannot.  Thank you all for attending, thank you for the overwhelmingly supportive comments/reviews of our cheeses.  I thank you, my goats thank you, and my employees thank you.  We all work very hard to do our best, and it is a big gratification to see your appreciation of it all!

Rhonda in “City Clothes”

For those of you wondering how I even got to Seattle-I left in plenty of time, drove through the blinding rain, used the new iphone GPS assistance, and chose valet parking for convenience.  OK-sticker shock at $32.00 for a few hours parking……Coming back home into our Valley was another joy of the day.  Beautiful sunset, and no red lights.  Thankfully we don’t even have a 4 way stop out here yet.  I love that too.  The upbeat of the City is sure fun for a few hours, but I am always happy to come home.

The President of the United States Eats “Our” Cheese!

Yes, it is true! President Obama had our feta cheese on his Skagit Valley Salad at Seattle’s Grand Central Bakery.  This is exciting in several ways:
1) The President was at a successful, small, local business in Seattle
2) He chose from the menu and selected a local favorite salad
3) Our feta was on that salad

OK, this is a very long way from my humble beginnings in Beaumont, TX.  Never in a million years would I have ever thought the President would eat a food created by my very own hands (and my accomplished employees).  I think this is one of those random events in life that we cannot anticipate. I just love that!

[Links to the news stories below pictures]

Obama Stops at Seattle’s Grand Central Bakery for a Bite

Obama:  Turkey Sandwich & Jammer to Go


We find ourselves in a bit of a quandary this year, for the first time ever really, over the availability of local hay for our goats.  For all years past, we have fed primarily pea hay plus western WA alfalfa, supplemented with grass hay.  All of our animals have 24/7/365 pasture access on a great grass blend that works well for us and our soils.  Our climate is moderate and the pastures remain green all year.

For 2010 however, we have NO pea hay in our valley.  This was a near-perfect goat food:  it was affordable and it made an excellent use for a food crop by-product.  The peas were harvested for the frozen food market and “our” young farmer, Charlie Lundgren, found the fields, baled the hay, and kept us well-supplied. The peas were a nitrogen fixing crop to follow potatoes, so that helped restore the land.   It was win:win as far as I could see.  We are seriously mourning the loss of this food which helped meet the needs of so many.

The peas loss came with some warning.  I went to the local ag extension office to try to proactively look for a solution.  We have land and I was willing to test crop and risk share possible alternatives.  I sadly met with no help.  Being a “woman” in dairy, with goats no less, I am seldom included in any of their discussions.  That is another topic and I don’t lose any sleep over it.  I take solace in believing I am doing the right thing, for the right reasons, for the right people.  That is all I need.

Enter 2010 again…..the coldest, wettest Spring in a long time.  Hay fields were wet and growth started poorly state wide.  This, in turn, affected the alfalfa crop in western WA, whom we also depend on.  Our goats MUST have alfalfa for the calcium and protein.  These are relatively high producing dairy does and we carefully meet their nutritional needs to support their continued excellent health, production, and milk flavor.

Sad, Dry, Planted Field

In a perfect world, the goats would have a large wooded area to browse in, but we had the farm before the goats, so we get to work with what we have.

Fearing a loss of decent, affordable (?) alfalfa, we were able to secure a full semi truck load of 5th cutting alfalfa from the 2009 fall harvest.  This is beautiful hay and we were lucky to get it.  At this same time, the potato crop on “our front 20 acres” failed due to the cold and rain.  We took this opportunity to go ahead and get some pasture/hay grass planted.  Grass hay is what we will now use to feed the bucks entirely and to the girls as a supplement to the alfalfa.  So, on July 2nd, we planted, and it has not rained since.  The week of July 2nd saw a $10,000.00 hay bill!!!!!  Now, we will begin looking into the grass “remedy”..more $$$$$$$$$$$.  These are unanticipated costs and hit hard.  We still believe our goats deserve the BEST and if we cannot give them that, I will quit.

Local Grass Hay

The alfalfa we got is premium dairy hay.  Each bale is 3 ft x 5 ft and weighs 1300 lbs!!!!  Not our norm by any wildest thought.  We are working this out too.  I am being forced to learn way more than I wanted to about the business of hay.  We have helped support the same young hay farmer for many years now, and our families have enjoyed getting to know each other.  We continue working together on solutions.

Alfalfa Bales

These costs don’t get passed on to the consumer now.  Hopefully over time it balances out.

On the bright side, we have 30.5 tons of great alfalfa which should last a year.  Our does are producing beautifully on it, and the milk tastes great-which of course translates to the cheese.

Y’all do know you can’t make good cheese from bad milk right?  You can screw up good milk and make bad cheese, but you can’t fix bad milk.  Our sweet, fresh, delicious milk is the key to all we do around here.

Thank you for your support as we weather 2010.

Texas BBQ Follow Up

As you may have heard, we had a really fabulous time with the Cafe Adrift, Boundary Bay Brewery, and Gothberg Farms Texas BBQ, beer and cheese pairing on June 6th.  The food (almost 100% local) was beyond incredible. 

One of the fun events we did was a beer/cheese pairing alchemy led by our much loved Julia Wayne from Edible Seattle.  Here are the results of the pairings we had the pleasure of sampling!

Hopefully most of you have seen the pictures on facebook, so I won’t bore you with repeats.

Thanks Chef Martin

Chef Martin brings his culinary students to tour our small farm each year.  They do some really incredible local food events and catering.  I have had the pleasure of attending a few of them.  I so appreciate the opportunity to participate in the education of our future chefs and food lovers.

This article appeared in our local newspaper, the Skagit Valley Herald.  Imagine my surprise at finding this!  I love it!

When the last class came, they brought me one of these tarts.  I have never forgotten how much I loved it.  In fact, we had made attempts at re-creating it.  The fresh chevre makes for a fabulous dessert treat.

Thanks Chef Martin and your students!

We Are Now Animal Welfare Approved

Please join us in celebrating this awesome organization! They are concerned with the welfare of ALL farm animals worldwide.  Their standards are high.  Their process is comprehensive.  Being a part of this is an honor.

The person they sent to survey our farm was knowledgeable, helpful, and fun.  His name was Jan, a PhD.  from WSU.  He looked at absolutely every function related to the animals and their well being., I have such confidence in this organization with this kind of comprehensive approach to animal practices.  Any suggestions he offered were meaningful and heeded.  He is a livestock producer himself.

I had not thought too much about “labels” before I became aware of this organization.  There are so many labels and tags out there, it is hard for me to decipher.  This one caught my attention for their comprehensive approach to all animals.  We strive very diligently here to provide the absolute best for our animals, at every stage of life.  It is nice to have third party, arms length confirmation that we are on the “right track” providing humane and ethical treatment of our animals.  I firmly believe you actually taste it in our milk, but that is my opinion.

You, as a food consumer, should look for their logo wherever you buy your food. 

Thank you for your support!

Farm Dinner June 6, 2010

We have a fun farm dinner and tour planned for June 6, 2010, from 1pm-5pm.  This will be a Texas style BBQ prepared by Nicole and Maggi from Cafe Adrift in Anacortes.  They have a new catering “wagon” with  BBQ attached.  If that fails us, we have our official Texas behemoth BBQ always at the ready.  This event is in conjunction with our local Slow Food chapter (Skagit River Salish Sea) and part of each ticket sale will go to them. 

So, here is a general plan for the afternoon:
1pm-3pm:  Farm tours and beer and cheese tasting/pairing.  Beers will be from Boundary Bay in Bellingham and cheeses will be from Gothberg Farms.  Julia Wayne from Edible Seattle will be here to help us with a fun and interactive way to do this.

3pm-5pm:  The Food
BBQ Brisket (from Island Grown Farmers Coop Bow WA)
Chicken (from Well Fed Farm Mt. Vernon WA birds being grown now just for us!)
Grilled Oysters (from Taylors Seafood Bow WA)
Potato Salad (local of course)
Cole Slaw (local of course)
Bread (from the Breadfarm Bow WA)
Delightful Dessert (made with Gothberg Farms chevre)

Please join us for this fun summer kick off!

Tickets are $65.00 which includes everything. Must be paid in advance.  Nicole needs to plan the food since she does not just pick from the shelf and open a package.

Children under 12, $10.00.

No pets to the farm please. We have plenty of our own for you to enjoy.

For reservations, contact Rhonda or stop in at Adrift.  We can both accept credit cards, but not over the Internet.

Rhonda 360-202-2436

ADGA Convention

I am delighted to announce that I will be presenting a full day Farmstead Small Goat Dairy workshop on Monday, October 18.  This will be occurring at the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) Convention in Tuscon, Arizona.  

My workshop will cover all aspects of owning and managing a small, farmstead goat dairy. We will take the concept from idea to reality. We will cover the animals, the farm, the cheese, the employees, and finally ideas for marketing and distribution of the cheese.  This is the story of Gothberg Farms.  We will discuss what has worked well and also areas for enhancement.  Come with lots of questions. We will have a great day together. 

I look forward to meeting my fellow cheesemakers and small dairy enthusiasts.