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Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese & Milk

 

Hello “Godd-etts”! Spring has sprung that is for sure. Many of our seasonal farmers markets begin shortly. We are always excited to start Hanford Farmers Market on Thursdays Old Town Clovis Farmers Market  and Cayucos Farmers Market on Fridays.

I thought I would share with you many of the Frequently Asked Questions at my markets and by my many store customers. I am always happy to answer any questions anyone has. If there is not one answered here…please just let me know.

Hope to see you soon!

Barbara

FAQ for Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese & Milk

 

Are you organic?

 

We practice primarily organic though not certified

 

 

Are the cows grass-fed?

 

We have a nutritionist that works weekly with my husband to formulate the best diet for our cows. They use the corn and wheat and alfalfa we grow on our farm. They also get fresh citrus, almond, and other nutrients that are mixed fresh twice daily. 

 

 

Are your cows happy?

 

Of course! Our whole goal is to create our animals comfort and well-being. Not only morally…but a happy cow makes more milk.

 

Are your cows confined?

 

We raise our cows in open corrals with shades available to them. On hot days they have soakers and misters to cool them and on hot days they have warm water for their wash up.

 

Do you remove the calves from their mothers?

 

They spend a few hours or longer with their calves (calves are up and walking almost immediately) and then the calves are placed in their private pen so that they will not be exposed to dangers. We also can better monitor them to make sure they are eating and drinking. They are monitored for about 45 to 60 days when they are moved to age appropriate group pens.

 

Do you raise your bull calves?

 

Yes we do

 

Do your cows have hormones?

 

All mammals have natural hormones but we do not supplement them with Rbst

 

Is there antibiotics in your milk?

 

Our milk as in all milk is tested numerous times as in compliance with the government and our cooperatives. Cheese will not make if there are antibiotics SO of course we do not!

 

Do you treat your cows with antibiotics?

 

Yes. Only if necessary. As we did with ourselves and our children. They are often similar medications. We have a “hospital” pen where they are monitored and the milk for the ill cows is discarded.

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Non-Homogenized Lightly Pasteurized "Cream Top" Milk Nectar From Our Dairy

Non-Homogenized Lightly Pasteurized “Cream Top” Milk
Nectar From Our Dairy

I drink whole milk and eat full-fat yogurt, cream cheese, and sour cream. Sure, full-fat dairy products taste better than the skim/fat-free versions, but I don’t eat them for the taste. I eat full-fat dairy because it’s better for my health and my weight.

Yep, you heard me right: I eat dairy products with all the fat god gave ‘em, and I do it because it’s good for me.

Here’s why:

1. Our bodies cannot digest the protein or absorb the calcium from milk without the fat.

2. Vitamins A and D are also fat-soluble. So you can’t absorb them from milk when all the fat has been skimmed off. (This makes fortified skim milk the biggest sham of all — you can pump fat-free milk full of a year’s supply of vitamins A and D, but the body can’t access them).

3. Milk fat contains glycosphingolipids, types of fats linked to immune system health and cell metabolism.

4. Contrary to popular belief, low-fat and fat-free diets do not help prevent heart disease, and science has now revealed that the link between saturated fat (long villainized as a cause of heart disease) and heart disease is tenuous at best.

5. In fact, studies now show that eating saturated fat raises good cholesterol — the kind of cholesterol you want and need in your body.

6. The world’s healthiest foods are whole foods — foods that have not been processed. Why? The nutrients in whole foods have a natural synergy with one another — that is, they work best in and are most beneficial to the body when they are taken together (not when they are isolated in, say, beta-carotene supplements of Vitamin C capsules). So when you pull some or all of the fat out of milk, you throw its nutritional profile out of whack. Basically, you discard all of the health benefits when you discard the fat.

7. And last but definitely not least: healthy dietary fat will NOT make you fat. We’ve been taught for years that dietary fat is the root of all evil. But we need healthy fat in our diet for proper body composition and long-term weight maintenance. The key factor here is knowing the difference between good fats and bad fats (for more on good and bad fats and the role healthy fat plays in weight maintenance..

A final note: When it comes to whole milk, you should also drink nonhomogenized when you can. Homogenization is “the technique of crushing milkfat globules into droplets too small to rise to the surface in a cream layer,” writes Anne Mendelson in Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages (Knopf, 2008). Homogenization offered two big advantages to the dairy industry: (1) the abolition of the “creamline,” as it’s called, made it possible to package milk in more convenient [read: disposable] cardboard packaging instead of traditional glass bottles and (2) homogenizing made it possible for a commercial dairy to “calculate the amount of fat in incoming milk, completely remove it, and homogenize it back into milk in any desired proportion…In effect, ‘whole milk’ could now be whatever the industry said it was.”

To put it more bluntly: homogenized whole milk isn’t whole. The dairy-processing industry decided that whole milk should be milk with 3.25% fat (raw milk straight from the cow averages between 4 – 5.5% fat). That way, no matter what cow produced the milk, after homogenization all the milk would taste the same.

When you buy homogenized milk, you’re buying a whole food that isn’t whole — it’s had it’s fat removed, evened out, and injected back into it in an amount less than what appears in nature. So choose whole milk, skip homogenization, and enjoy!
By Laine Bergeson, Experience Life

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Women In Dairy Conference – November 7, 2012

Women in Dairy Pennsylvania – Penn State Extension

Last year we had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful group of dairy farmers from Pennsylvania that were visiting California dairy farms. Our dairy was one of their stops. Tony and I shared our dairy and our cheese plant and the debut our chocolate milk. I had the opportunity to speak to them and shared our struggles with the dairy business and operating a dairy products plant.

A couple months later I received an email asking if I would be interested in being the Keynote speaker at their Women in Dairy Conference being held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I reminded them that I was not a professional speaker. She said that it was the ladies from the tour that suggested me as the speaker. I was flattered and frightened at the same time.

They also asked if I could sit on a panel for blogging. That, I thought, no problem. I feel comfortable with blogging. I admit I do not know a lot of the technical things associated with blogging but I do feel comfortable sharing my message and I realize the importance of getting your story out and not let others speak for you. Especially in the dairy industry.

I agreed to do it. I admit, a bit reluctantly. It seemed so far away. I really didn’t know where I would be with my business. I didn’t know how I was going to manage to get away. I didn’t know how to put together a keynote address. I had seen plenty of wonderful speakers in my day. I was especially moved when I had seen Dr. Scott Vernon from Cal Poly SLO give his keynote address at the California Women in Agriculture convention earlier this year. I was challenged and I like that. I decided to do it!

Months before, and up to just before departure I was agonizing over my decision. One day it was, “how exciting” the next day was “what the heck did I get myself into”. I was worried about letting those ladies down. I knew it was too late to back out now. I dug my heels in and resolved to do my best.

I would hole myself up and write, rewrite, write and write some more. It is very rewarding putting your life on paper. I also created my first power point! Accepting challenges and learning new things, isn’t that what life is about?

Penn State Extension is an outreach program of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. They provide educational programs for dairy producers, their employees, and advisers. (click here to see the great programs that they offer) They do a great job. They are professional and work very hard. It is very clear that they like what they do and they like working with these dairy farmers. I felt their devotion and respect for the dairy farmers that they served.

There is nothing easy about getting to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from Fresno, California. I departed at night on November 5th. I arrived, after a couple of plane changes, in the morning of November 6th. It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful place. I would not let my weary body get me down. I had to go explore. Explore I did. I want to thank Unique Limousine of Harrisburg, PA. I called them at the last minute. They asked what I was interested in seeing. Offered me a very fair price and picked me up right away to escort me on my adventure. I got to visit the Central Market in Lancaster, PA It is the oldest, continuously ran, farmers market in the nation. A perfect stop for me right? I enjoyed introducing myself to the farmers/vendors there and they were kind and warm. I even got a hug from a lovely Mennonite vendor. I was driven through the beautiful countryside enjoying the farms and got a glimpse of Amish life. I drove through Hershey, PA, the “sweetest town in America” and yes the street lights are the shape of Hershey’s kisses. The whole time, as I was enjoying this, I kept telling myself how much Tony would love to see this and vowed to come back and spend more time.

After my full day I got to enjoy dinner with some of the Penn State Extension team. We also went to a pre-conference reception that evening.  It was nice to have this “warm-up” because that moment was here and there was no turning back now.

After a surprisingly good nights sleep, that moment, that I had agonized for so long, was now here. I admit, I was glad that I was up first. When I was done I felt great relief and satisfaction. Mission accomplished! I had wonderful feed back and response and felt embraced. One very nice young lady said that I had “set the tone” for the conference. I was happy that I did not disappoint. These are hard-working dairy women. They are busy working on the farms, milking cows, raising calves and taking care of their families. I wanted it to be worth their time and I didn’t want to disappoint the ladies that suggested me for the job.

I was happy to share my life. I believe they realized, like I did, that even though we might run our dairies differently. We might have more or less cows to take care of. We share to same goals and struggles in our lives. At the end of the day our lives are consumed with the care and well-being of not only our families but our animals.

Sitting on the blogging panel was fun. It is always fun to share the rewards and challenges of blogging. I got to sit on the panel with Raechel Sattazahn. She did a great job sharing her blog, Go Beyond the Barn Blog please check it out. Her husband is a guest writer and they do a wonderful job sharing our agricultural story.  Lisa Perrin from Mid Atlantic Dairy Association did a great job as the panel facilitator.

I got to enjoy the rest of the day mingling, eating good food, and taking in the other breakout sessions. I met too many wonderful people to name individually. I  hope they know how much I appreciated my time with all of them.

During the day I had the opportunity to meet Jessica Armacost. She is the director of the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Program and Promotion Service . They have a very impressive program. The girls are very active in promoting dairy in their state. She had with her two of her princesses, Callie and Heather. These two lovely princesses gave a beautiful “milk toast” at lunch. They attended the whole conference and were staying on for other appearances.  They were staying the night and asked if I would like to join them for dinner.

What a great evening. She drove us into the town of Harrisburg and indulged me in some picture-taking of this beautiful town. We ate at a local restaurant Appalachian Brewing Company. It was an evening of good food and good company.  I so appreciate their invitation. This was a perfect ending to a wonderful experience.

I want to thank Dr. Lisa Holden, associate professor, Penn State Dairy and Animal Science and Laurie Porter for their efforts in arranging this conference. They make it seem easy. Congratulations to you both and everyone who made this day the success that is was.

I made it back home without delay. I was comforted to know that my cheese/milk and dairy business ran just fine without me. Tara and Tony do a great job and did it all themselves without complaint. It is I, that do not know what I would do without them. Thank you both for “holding down the fort”. I love you both.

Again, Pennsylvania Women in Dairy and Penn State Extension, my deepest gratitude for this opportunity. Until we meet again….

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We are nearly at the last day of June is Dairy Month. I could not go the whole month with out posting about my favorite month of the year.

Mind you, I have been ‘celebrating’ in high style. We have been busying ourselves with our cheese and our new non-homogenized / lightly pasteurized whole chocolate and regular milk.

We have started three new farmers markets in West Hollywood also in Mar Vista and North Hollywood. We have felt very welcome down south.

Here is some of the press that we have received. ABC Channel 30 LA and the LA Times .

Also this month was our first cheese delivery to Lassen’s Natural Foods and Vitamins. We are in 8 of there stores. Dairy Goddess is urging you to support our new customers.

In honor of dairy month I hope you take a moment to reflect on what the real reason is for this special month. Dairy Council has done a great job sharing the Secrets, Stories and Facts of America’s Favorite Natural Beverage. Please take a moment and enjoy these milk facts .

Well now off to July and guess what? Yep, it’s Ice Cream Month So keep the celebration and enjoy plenty of dairy products.

Party till the cows come home!

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It’s been a week now since the discovery of the cow with BSE (Mad Cow). I went of to my farmers market last week prepared for questions and concerns. To my surprise, only two people spoke of it and they were from the Valley and asked if many had asked about the finding.

I look at this as food safety testing is working. I am comforted that they found it. I just want to reiterate a few points as I am still  seeing some negative articles out there. I think most of those negatives are written by those with another agenda.

I consider us so very blessed to have safe, affordable food.

The cow was found in a rendering facility in central California. The cow tested positive at a transfer facility in Hanford, 15 miles west of Visalia in Kings County, operated by Baker Commodities.

National Milk Producers Federation offered the following points on the issue:

  • Milk and dairy products do not contain or transmit BSE, and animals do not transmit the disease through cattle-to-human contact. The infectious prions that transmit BSE are found in neurological tissues, such as brains and spinal cords.
  • The United States put regulations in place in 1997 to prohibit ruminant protein from being used in animal feed. This applies to all cattle, dairy and beef alike.
  • Non-ambulatory animals ― those that cannot walk ― are not allowed to be processed at facilities where meat animals are handled. This regulation helps ensure that animals that are unwell are not entered into the food supply.

However, the current case in California may not fit the typical mold.

“Our laboratory confirmed the findings and also indicated it was an atypical form of BSE, which is a rare form of the disease,” said USDA chief veterinarian John Clifford on Tuesday. “It is not likely to be attributable to infected feed, which is the method in which normally BSE is spread from cow to cow,” he said.

“This particular animal did not enter the food supply at any time,” Clifford added.

For more background on BSE and the dairy sector, visit the NMPF website.

The USDA also has a frequently asked questions section on BSE. Click here.

Also Science News has a great article too

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I came across this video this morning and I say AMEN! Finally…it’s said! A voice for us.

I am continually saddened by people who disparage or dismiss the importance of Agriculture. I am saddened by those who are so easily swayed by radical agenda. What saddens me most is that because there are so many removed from Agriculture they just believe the misinformation they are throwing out there.  Earlier this year, an article featured on Yahoo! Education listed three agriculture-degrees in a list naming the top five worthless degrees. Just imagine where we would be without these degrees. These students make it pretty clear!

Farmers Fight is a student-led initiative to reconnect American society to the world of agriculture. Beginning with university students, Farmers Fight encourages consumers to ask where their food comes from, and give students, faculty, public officials, and farmers and ranchers an opportunity to become “agvocates” for the agriculture community. This is a must see!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yFoGib8AfZo

Let’s make this viral….Let’s Stand Up and Fight

Thank you for making this video! Thank you!

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Happy New Year Everyone!

I have not been as attentive as I would like to my blog but with the holidays and travelling work and cheese there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Also with the loss of my Granny (age 92) On January 4 th, it just has been so hectic.

It seems as I have been posting so much doom and gloom…that is not my style. Life though, gives you “stuff”.

I am grateful for my faith that gets me though the “stuff”! As for my Granny, she is finally at peace…we have some wonderful

memories. She was quite a lady and to sum her up it would be this. If she was in her prime. She would be a successful

Reality TV Show…she was born before her time.

My Aunt and family ask for me to do the Eulogy for Granny so I had been deep in thought about my past, my youth.

I had been asked (what seems like a long time ago) to speak at the California Women for Agriculture

Convention in Visalia on January 7 2012 . I was asked to talk about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur. I was told I had about 30 minutes. WOW, that’s a long time to talk about yourself.

I knew I couldn’t just “wing” it. So I wrote, rewrote and wrote again. I am so happy to have had that opportunity. How often do we chronicle a journey? For me a bit of blogging and that, but to start from a life change to where you are at the moment doesn’t usually happen. So THANKS to Raquel Avila Leal for having the faith in me to give me 30 minutes of time to share my story.

I decided to share it with you! (Please excuse typos/errors) I wanted to share it how I wrote it and what I read to these wonderful women. (It is a bit long…)

 

Hello it is a great pleasure to be here this morning and I am honored that I have been invited to speak to you, the California Women of Agriculture.

We, here have a common gift. We love and respect Agriculture and realize, first hand it’s importance to our state, our nation, our world.

Many of us here are in different aspects of agriculture. No matter from food to fiber we know the power and wealth it brings to our country.

We realize what the loss there would all be with out it.

We deal with the regulations. We deal with the misconceptions.

We are often called polluters.

Many people and the media, say we don’t care about the water, the land or the air.

They call us factory farmers.

No matter what comes out of our fields we have heard the anti-agriculture comments. We know we have the safest food in the world. We know how much we care for our land.

It is the same land that many of us were raised on and the land we have raised our own children on.

We, the California Women of Agriculture, Know the fight we are in to protect our farms, protect OUR rights, protect our legacies.

I am honored to be put in the time slot for you to hear about entrepreneurs. I have lately been called this but still don’t feel that that title really belongs to me.

To me I am first and foremost a mother, a wife, a farmer.

I have to admit that I can not wait to add GRANDMA to that list…but it does not seem to be in the immediate future. So I will relish in the joy of entrepreneur for now.

Please note…professional speaker is NOT one of my titles. I hope to not disappoint you during this time that I have been allotted.

I am a third generation dairy farmer married to my high school sweetheart, also third generation dairy farmer. We have been married for 29 years. We have two children. Tara age 25 a graduate of psychology from Fresno State. My son Anthony Joseph Martin the III also know as A.J. age 24, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Animal Science.

We have our dairy in Lemoore. We moved here from Chino in 2006. We had bought an existing dairy in which we reconstructed the barn. We came with the same amount of cows as we had in Chino and milk nearly 900 head.

In Chino it was a whole different way of dairy farming. We did not grow any of our cows feed. We bought it all off site. We were in a partnership with my husbands parents and brother.

In deciding to move, we were excited at the prospect of this being OUR dairy. Tony and I, in a and complete full partnership. In every way, from the day to day operation as well as the business of it.

Also the thought of growing our own crops was very exciting for us.

I am grateful for the experience I had in Chino.

There was such a difference in our dairy business plan down south. The men were partners in the day to day business .Us women worked in “town” as my dad would say.

In 1981 I became a travel agent. In 1983 I began to working for my mother in law until I bought her out in 1990. I sold the agency in 1999. I stayed on with the new owners until Sep 11, 2001.

I sold in 1999 as we began discussing possible relocation of our dairy at that time. AND I just had an inkling that the internet was going to be a tough competitor for travel agents.

I then went to work for UPS in there damage recovery (not always the happiest people to deal with) I was grateful though for that experience. It really taught me how to handle people in difficult situations.

I then dabbled in title insurance and enjoyed the customer service skills I learned there.

I stayed there until I found my favorite “town” job.

I worked for the County of San Bernardino Family Court Services in which we did the mediation for custody and visitation for families going through divorce.

Working for The County / State as it was in transition at that time was clearly the most eye opening job I have ever had.

I was good at it. I liked helping people.

I appreciated being appreciated by my judges and supervisors.

Being raised on a farm gives you a work ethic that we as farmers don’t even realize that we have..

I also saw and worked with those that did not have the gift of “work ethic”

If I had stayed only with Agriculture…I would not have seen it this.

All of these experiences taught me so much. Dealing with people. Speaking with people. Most of all listening to people.

When my co-workers asked me “how can you live on a farm”? “How can you eat your own animals”. “How do you stand the smell”.

When questioned…I didn’t feel upset…God love em…they REALLY did not know. They were so removed from the farm and where there food comes from.

I always liked explaining my life. I knew and appreciated how different and blessed I was.

I felt sorry for those that did not know what I knew or what I experienced every day. They didn’t know how good fresh milk tasted. They have never smelt fresh cut alfalfa. They have never seen a calf be born…

how blessed so many of us our to have these experiences.

I also realized that when they got to know me and when they heard MY side of the agriculture story they “got it”. . . also HOW I told my story was important. In words people can comprehend.

I had a co-worker ask if we use chains to get calves out of there mothers. I explained that some cows as well as humans need help with birthing. Humans have tools to assist and we have them for cows too.

In 2006 we had so many emotions. Moving from all of your friends and our church. Moving out of our comfort zone.

I was sad that in September both kids were going away to school. I thought how were we going to meet people? Kids and there schools and activities help to get you involved in your community and with your neighbors.

We didn’t know what we were going to do for a house so the 5th wheel was going to have to do.

In 2006, we moved right in time for the heat wave to kill 50 of our cows. We were up day and night trying to cool them down the best we could as not all of our shades were up and our fans were not yet working. Those were the most difficult of days.

We had our first price drop in milk that year and our reconstruction costs had doubled due to Hurricane Katrina and the availability of supplies.
Now that I was completely hands on with our business and with the volatility of the dairy industry I felt that I wanted to do more and fix the ill ways of our industry and quite frankly the greed, corruption, and manipulations that we dairy farmers have to deal with.

I became involved the Western United Dairymen where I was elected delegate and also California Milk Advisory Board in which I was elected a director for our district. I also was very active in my co-op, Dairy Farmers of America. There are not many women placed in these positions. I was honored to be elected by my peers, my fellow dairy farmers.

In struggling to make our dairy work I decided to bring home our calves from the custom calf ranch. I thought that this was a job that I could do well. It would eventually save our dairy money and avoid the difficulty of transition bringing the calves back to the ranch when they were older.

By 2008 I had my calves back at home and they were flourishing. It was about at that time that social media was taking off and I began to dabble.

It was a great place to share my accomplishments my disappointments, some funny pictures and stories. It was the perfect platform to continue my story…

and I didn’t have to work in “TOWN”.

As I worked everyday I watched the milk truck drive off with our milk. I thought about how great it would be to do something with it ourselves. Make something right here on the farm.

At the end of 2008, I took an Artesian Cheese making coarse at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It was love at first touch. Having my hands in the vat. The smell of cooking curds. All the stainless steel… I was hooked. I came back with huge dreams and ideas.

2009 hit our dairy industry. It was devastation for so many. Financially I didn’t know if we would make it through and I am still questioning if I will be able to get financially healthy ever again.

Seeing milk checks that come in that barely are enough to feed your cows and make payroll is a stress that I wish on no one.

I mean, it’s not like we close up shop for a few days.
We are responsible for those animals. God has entrusted them with us. All dairymen are committed to the cows health, by feeding them, milking them, TAKING care of them.

When you, as a dairy farmer fear not be able to feed your cows, you forget about yourself. If you do not have a dairy it hard to explain in words. If you have a dairy…you know exactly what I mean.

So my thought of producing something on the farm at that time seemed so very far away.

But it kept eating away at me. Something kept at me to search for ways to make cheese on our farm.

I was becoming more fueled in my plight when I saw that processors such as Kraft, Dean Foods and Leprino had made record profits in 2009 while in my area alone there were dairy farms closing left and right. We had 4 suicides from distraught dairy farmers in our area alone.
I felt so out of control. Here we make a product, milk, and we have all of this risk yet we have NO control of what price we are going to receive.

On top of that we have to pay for the delivery of our milk to our processors. Yet THEY have control of the price they receive.

It just didn’t make sense.

I am not anti co-op or processor, by any means. If any thing I have a greater appreciation for them and what it takes for them to get OUR product to market. I do think there are things in our industry that need to change. We dairy farmers need to get back some of OUR control…

that is for another time though. It is a battle that will continue.

In early 2009 I contacted my dairy products inspector whom I had met at Cal Poly during my class.

He came to my dairy. Looked around. I discussed my ideas. I shared my financial issues…

He told me that we were about the 52nd dairy he had visited in a year or so looking into building a processing plant. He had only one that had started the process officially.

As we were sitting in my husband’s office at the dairy with my husbands feet prompted up comfortably on the desk as always.

I asked my inspector “So where would the best place be for my cheese plant”…he hesitated looked around and said…”right here”…
I thought my husband was going to fall back off of his chair.

We needed much more discussion,

but I did proceed to tell my inspector that I would like to have it done within a year. He kind of chuckled and said…you first need to get your husband on board.

In the mean time I had been experimenting in my house. Everyday a different recipe of cheese or flavor. I felt like my mind was never at rest.

Along with this I started blogging. It was the scariest thing that I ever had done. Exposing myself, my family, my farm on video and in words. It was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I introduced my cow Chica who became quite the star. She was a cow I raised from day one and she was special. She was a diva. People loved her and connected.

I am a women of faith. I believe that God gives us his plan in ways that we are not always expecting. That blog. A Dairy Goddesses Blog gave me the courage to pursue my dream of cheese. It gave me confidence to continue on.

My first investment in Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese was my logo…yes a logo without a product. Having enough experience off of the farm and with social media. I knew marketing was half of the battle. “BRANDING” yourself was another part of the equation.

I felt like I always had a back up plan for my expenses and my investment in Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese.
I thought, worst case scenario…I would use it for my blog heading and it would make such a cute Avatar.

I continued, by the grace of God and things kept coming together.

I had a recipe that I loved. My family loved. My friends loved. I felt confident with it. I decided to start off with it, it is a French Style Fresh Cheese, Natural and with flavors. A Fromage Blanc. It was different than my competitors. It was a niche and it was affordable even in a specialty market. It was a perfect cheese for a “foodie on a budget”.

We did as much of the work in the reconstruction from office to cheese plant. My poor husband watched his “man-cave” / office disappear before his eyes. Never with a complaint…God love him.

I knew he wasn’t fully on board, poor thing. He was supportive and did so much of the physical labor. I promised him that whatever money I put into this I would sell enough cheese to pay that amount back. Even if I had to sell my cheese on a street corner. Even if it took me 20 years.

He plugged on.

My husband and my inspector saw it coming to life. I saw it coming to life. Working day and night. I still managed to study for my pasteurization license. I worked with the construction workers that we had to bring in for the work we could not tackle ourselves.

On August 12, 2010 I received my plant certification AND my pasteurization license. He told me that I was the 2nd plant approval he had in the two years that we had met. It was an emotional day to say the least.

Poor guy he didn’t know what to do…but was patient with posing with me for pictures for my blog.

Since I had a fresh cheese I felt that that was an advantage. It takes basically 3 days from cow to package.

I was able to sell my first batch on August 19 2010 at Hanford Farmers market. I immediately placed product in the Portuguese Bakery in Hanford.

It was at that first farmers market that my husband realized that this just might work. By my side, giving samples he relished in everyone’s delight. By seeing the sales at the end of the night, he said I really do think we have something here!

I told him that I was sure glad he thought so.

Those first months I processed about 100 gallons in a month.

By my 1st anniversary in August of 2011 I was processing over 250 gallons a week. I was in 14 farmers markets from Santa Barbara to Walnut Creek. I am in 3 specialty stores. I am in two Whole Foods Markets and in Spring 2012 will be in two more Whole Foods Markets in the bay area.

They will put me in as many stores as I can accommodate. That is now one of my obstacles…being able to accommodate the orders.

 

My daughter upon graduation from Fresno State came to work with me full time. My sister in law and Uncle help on processing days and I have 3 part time farmers markets representatives.

We now realize that we are at a cross roads. We have to make decisions of expansion OR We have to decide if we want to stay this way and keep doing what we are doing. Both decisions have their challenges.

To stay the same keeps us completely hands on and labor intensive. We are not as efficient and we could be. We can not grow very much more due to our size and storage facility.

To expand means capital. It means more risk and more work to obtain and keep markets and be even more price competitive.

It means dealing with the bigger boys. Transportation of the product would now be a bigger challenge. Dealing with distributors and store placement another challenge

I realize that I will need help and professional opinions for my next phase…whatever it is. I have out grown myself…even considering it started so small. It was built with my heart with my blood, sweat, and tears.

Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese is ME.

I have to admit…it makes me very proud.

I reached my first goal even faster than I could have imagined.

I can see and feel in my heart is that there is so much more potentional… with that in my heart it’s hard for me to sit still.

So stay tuned…not quite sure the next step for Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese but a step… or maybe even a leap, I will take.

Of course…If that is what God has in store for me.

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