OakMoon Farm 
English Shepherds



Old-World-Styled Goat Cheeses with Blue Ridge Flair!

Why GMO-Free?

In late May 2014, we began to feed a gmo-free grain mix to all the animals on the farm.  We did this for a couple of good reasons, including our personal objection to being used as nonconsenting guinea pigs for agricultural chemical corporations. What have we seen since changing to the gmo-free feed? Better condition in our animals on not just less feed, but MUCH less feed. They are healthier, their coats are shiny and thick, and they are more productive. Again, while we can't claim to know whether genetically modified grains or other foods are actually detrimental to the critters consuming them as food---humans included---we do believe there is plenty of evidence that the excessive use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in many commonly used weedkillers) is harmful to plants, animals, and the planet Earth.


What the hay is a GMO?

GMO stands for genetically modified organism. Most of the corn, soybeans and many other crops grown in the US at this time is grown from seeds modified so that the plants grown from them can withstand increased spraying with herbicides. Banned in many countries, these genetically modified crops are approved by our government.  Foods made from these grains are on the grocery shelf, in the pantry, and on your dinner table, but we consumers are prevented from knowing what we are eating because our politicians refuse to pass laws to require labeling to let us know.

Do your homework.

The basics:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G

enetically_modified_organism

The controversy: 

http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

http://www.non-gmoreport.com/whatisnon-gmo.php

The danger: 

http://thefarmerslife.com/biotechnology/long-term-glyphosate-use-effect-on-wheat/

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/11/01/why-glyphosate-should-be-banned-a-review-of-its-hazards-to-health-and-the-environment/

Our vision and philosophy for the farm

In August 2019, we retired from our goat cheese enterprise and returned to just keeping a few goats for our own home dairy. We have plans to garden and maybe have a few fruit trees, and to get ourselves off the grid as much as possible. 


So no more cheese, eggs, milk, or pork for sale! But we still adhere to our philosophy that we are part of this Earth and that we want to be good stewards of our little part. 

 

Our vision for our farm and creamery is pretty simple.  We want to create a nurturing space for ourselves, our family, and our animals by making our way in a sustainable manner.  We try to contribute something positive to every realm we enter, and trust that by being giddily hopeful we can spread our good humor to others.


We want folks to understand the dynamics at work in our relationship with our animals.  We came to this work out of love of the goats, our desire to make a sustainable effort so that we can stay on the farm and work with our animals.  The relationship with one of our goats begins when she is born; we always try to be present when the doe kids, and we bond with the mother and the babies.  The babies come to see us as their parent, and so will follow us and want to be wi
th us.  They allow themselves to be directed so that they are not being forced into our routine but become a natural part of it.  The does bond with us and we become their "babies" too, so that we don't TAKE the milk from them, rather they freely give it.  This is something that is difficult for folks not raised around dairy animals to understand, and I've had many people ask me how do I make the goats give the milk.  I don't; as a matter of fact, a doe that does not want to be milked will slowly dry herself off, even if milked twice daily like the rest.

The cheese is not organic; organic feed for goats is TREMENDOUSLY expensive and unfeasible except on a very small scale.  However, both the base curd we use from our partner farm and the cheese made from our milk here comes from goats that have open pastures, very high-quality hay, no hormones, no antibiotics in the feed or used in a preventative way.  We raise our animals as naturally and humanely as we know how.  Our ladies may have numbers, but they have names FIRST, and all the older animals know their names and answer to them.

We make promises to our animals, to do what it takes to make sure they are fed, housed, loved, and given
the opportunity to thrive and live a natural life as much as possible.  Sometimes (LOTS of times!) this means that other needs of the farmer and farm are ranked below the needs of the goats on the priority list.  During slow seasons, and drought times like we have now, when the cost of hay has doubled, we farmers eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches!  The goats must be healthy, happy, and thriving for the milk to be a clean, positive base for a good cheese.  Unhappy goats do not make good milk, and bad milk does not make good cheese.  It's just that simple.

Speaking of the cheese, the process we use is both simple and sophisticated. It is simple in that the way we set the curd harks back literally thousands of years.  It is sophisticated in that we use contemporary techniques to give the cheese a chance to bloom into its full potential of flavor and complexity.  We want it to reflect the components that went into it, the fresh air, sunshine, clean water, diverse flora eaten by the animals, etc.  And keep in mind, that if the cheesemaker doesn't like it, she doesn't make it.  So there is a little of us in there too.
 

 

Barn and Pastures

Our new barn is finished, and the girls have moved in. The new barn was open to all sides per the eqip specs, but as it is facing NW, the direction of most of our prevailing winds and weather systems, the goats and hay got wet at every little sprinkle.  So we put up a quick wind-stop that isn't so beautiful, but keeps things nice and dry.  For the holidays, Dwain put up lights on the front and inside the barn, on the rafters, plus a pretty red bow.  This lights it so well the girls could have a barn dance (if I hear fiddle music some night I'm putting on my dancing shoes and heading up there!)  The barn is divided into two sections, the larger one for the adult does, the smaller for upcoming yearlings about to join the milker gang.  Each side has access to the hay, and each side has an automatic waterer.  It is a very workable set-up for us and seems to comfortably house the crew we have now. 

.Our pastures are mostly unimproved mountain vegetation and consist of various perenial herbs, grasses, and wild flowers. We have about 12 acres total, divided into paddocks for the milkers, kids, and bucks. We hope to add some plantings to the pasturage in the next couple of years, and include comfrey, red clover, lespedeza and other higher protein plants for the goats' munching pleasure. 

                                                                                                                               

Our water comes from a good deep well and is provided to the does via freeze-proof waterers.  In addition, we free-choice feed local-grown mixed grass hay supplemented with western grown alfalfa when we can afford it.  I hate that we have to buy hay from so far away, but we'll buy it locally when it's available.