The Inside Cheese Scoop: Interview with Lesley

Blog administrator Megan N. Creson Million interviewed Lesley Million, co-owner and operator of Terrell Creek Farm (pictured below).

Les Dressed Up “What made you decide to go into the goat cheese business?”

“We always wanted to live in the country and practice sustainable living practices.  We bought our land in Fordland in 2005 and dabbled in various areas of farming, including a burgeoning garden playfully referred to by family and friends as “Million Mart,” chicken egg production and using the milk from a few goats to create decadent artisan cheeses.  We ended up giving these cheeses to family and friends for holidays and birthday presents. Soon, our requests for more cheese skyrocketed.  We loved worked with our handful of goats, so we decided to pursue our hobby and passion as a full time business.  We pride ourselves on the quality of our products and the healthfulness they promote.  We want to promote a high-quality of life for our customers, not just earn a living.”

“What level of involvement do you have in the business?”

“A better question would be to ask what we aren’t involved in.  We just made this a full-time business early last fall, so at this point we are involved with every step in the process – from feeding and birth goats to milking, maintaining stringent sanitation and goat health standards and cheesing.”

“What does Animal Welfare Approved mean?”

“Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) is a food label for meat and dairy products that come from farm animals raised to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. The program was founded in 2006 as a market-based solution to the growing consumer demand for meat, eggs and dairy products from animals treated with high welfare and managed with the environment in mind. For more information, you can visit the Animal Welfare Approved website.”

“What is the American Goat Dairy Association?”

“The easiest way to describe the American Goat Dairy Association (AGDA) is to tell you exactly what they do.  The AGDA website says it best.

Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Maintain herd books and issue certificates of registration and recordation of dairy goats
  • Supervise and publish official milk production records of dairy goats and issue certificates of production
  • Promote and regulate matters pertaining to the history, publicity, breeding, exhibition and improvement of dairy goats

AGDA provides a number of genetic, management, and performance related services of the highest possible quality to dairy goat breeders. This includes:

  • Sponsoring shows and production testing giving breeders and exhibitors opportunities to compete for awards.
  • Sponsoring products competitions which showcase the best in amateur and commercial dairy goat cheese, soaps, lotions, and other goat related products.
  • Youth activities which provide a wholesome and educational experience to thousands, and in many instances have led to lifelong involvement in the dairy goat business.
  • Support of promotional programs to raise the public perception and political climate for the dairy goat industry that will provide optimum economic opportunities for Association members.
  • Maintaining an active information dissemination program making available critical data relating to production, linear appraisal scores, genetic evaluation information and show records.”

“Why is a dairy goat’s pedigree important?  What does it have to do with the cheese?”

“Just like with humans or other animals, it is never good with the gene pool gets limited.  Pedigree registered goats have to be approved through a fairly lengthy process.  If the goat is registered with the AGDA, you know that the dairy farmer you are buying your cheese from is carefully planning the way they expand their herd.  This also helps to prevent various goat diseases which affect their well-being and ability to produce milk of a quality good enough to be used in the cheese.”

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