Hi, all. As promised in a previous post, this week is all about the Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy. I’d never been to a goat dairy before and it proved to be an educational and fun experience. The goats are really cute and I never knew what sweet animals they are. One of the females came over to one of the fences where I standing and was practically begging to be scratched. I obliged and was rewarded with adorable nuzzling.
Located the river valley of Buena Vista, Colorado, Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy was started by Dawn Jump (get it?). Jumpin’ Good is basically a family operation—numerous members of the Jump family work there, as well as several Hanrahans and Shays (and a few strays).
Dawn Jump started the dairy after a stint as an employee of a historical museum. She was one of those people who did demonstrations to show what life was like in the 1800s, including (presumably) cheese-making. The Jump family started the business 10 years ago and kept it running in Ocean Park, WA, until this year, when they moved to Buena Vista.
I took the tour, which began at the goat pens. It was rutting season, so the males were kept separate from the females—otherwise, all the little kids on the tour would’ve gotten a lesson that their parents probably weren’t anticipating. Also, the males have a certain odor about them during mating season that is attractive to females but not so special to humans.
So, we followed the goats as they traveled their little path to the milking house. They were lined up in front a food trough and given some yummies while the milking contraptions were attached to their udders. The milking process itself was pretty quick, and when it was done, off they went out the other door to make room for the next group. This particular lass (in the photo) wasn’t interested in being milked that day. Or, maybe it was all the people inside watching her. I guess the poor thing has performance anxiety.
In the next room from the milking area is the cheese-making room. Here, the artisinal cheeses are all handmade. Unfortunately, the day I was there, the Jumpin’ Goat cheesemakers were in another town doing a demonstration, so I was unable to see the cheese-making in action. But I did get to see a bunch of wheels of “Queso Fiesta” that had been made and were awaiting transport to the cheese cave.
Ahh, the cheese cave. For cheese lovers, that is a thing of beauty. The cheeses are lined up on shelves, where they age naturally. The aroma in the cave is enticing (although, if you ask the kids on the tour, they’ll probably tell you it was way stinky, judging from the way they ran out of the cave). Which brings me to the “goatiness” factor. Goat cheese is generally very distinct and because of that, some people are not fond of it. But Jumpin’ Good Goat’s cheeses are not overly “goaty” because they combine the milks from their various breeds. Plus, the Jumpin’ Goat people say that it’s also about location, location, location: Daily shepherding on a lush 45-acre pasture in the Rockies; a clean, roomy, temperature-controlled, “stress-free barn to come home to each night”; and a “most beloved place in our hearts.” That last one is a little on the esoteric side, but if free-to-roam chickens can taste fresher, then maybe giving these goats love and kisses makes their milk sweeter. Why not?
Oh, and I forgot to mention that you will be able to sample a good variety of their cheeses in the country store, before and after the tour. Some of the types you might be able to try are cheddar, gouda, raclette, Pacific Porcini, Swedish Caraway, and more. They also offer tastes of their spreads, yogurts (really smooth and sweet), and milk. The tours are every Wednesday and Saturday at 4:00. It costs $5 for adults, $2 for kids under 12.
Jumpin’ Good is not just about the cheese, however. Their policies are appealing, too: humane treatment of goats, sustainable agriculture, and community development. They accept volunteers for bottle-feeding the babies, which not only works out for them, but it gives animal lovers a chance to get involved. (Babies are removed from their mothers almost immediately. This is a standard procedure for two reasons: 1) The babies would drink up all of the mother’s milk and leave nothing for the dairy, and 2) the babies need to get used to being handled by humans right away, otherwise they are difficult to handle.)
On the Jumpin’ Good Goat website, you’ll find things like a photo gallery (it’s worth taking a look just for the photo of the baby goats—SOO cute), news, blogs, and a Goat of the Month. This month, it’s Red Rider. Here’s what they say about him:
Likes: Girl goats, being a gentleman, girl goats, taking care of his herd, girl goats
Dislikes: Being removed from his girls… it’s baaaaad
Cute Fact: Going to be a daddy x 180 this Spring (whatta guy!)
Cute, huh? You can tell that they really care for their goats. They name each one and hand-raise the babies. It was really a sweet experience and the cheese was delicious, and it makes me happy that I can enjoy their products knowing that their animals are well-treated and happy. Ultimately, that’s what it all about.
Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy is at
Okay, so that’s it for this week. It’s getting nippy out there (not to mention dark way too early), so enjoy the little bit of beautiful weather we have left. Have a great week, everyone.