Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers and Their Kids

This is in honor of all of the Mothers, Step-Mothers, Foster Mothers, Grandmothers, and Aunts that raise our children and our food.

On Mother’s Day I visited Dancing Goat Creamery at DogWood Farms in Byron Center, MI. It was a beautiful sunny day; the goats were out in one of their fields. Special thanks to Barbara Jenness (owner) and Veronica Phelps for the tour. Veronica works at the creamery and is also the President of the West Michigan Slow Food Chapter. I donned a hairnet and clear plastic covers for my shoes and toured the small two-room creamery.

Dancing Goat Creamery is an artisanal, farmstead creamery producing fresh goat cheese and artisanal cow's milk cheese. Barbara started with two goats the summer of 2002. Now, they have a herd of Alpine goats, plus two Nubians (the ones with the long ears). They raise the goats and make the cheese the old fashioned traditional way. Fresh milk is turned into cheese daily, ensuring a quality product.

How can we be sure it is a natural process? The goat cheese is only available from March through October. The goats are bred (the natural way) in the fall. Dancing Goat has two bucks. They kid in the spring. As the kids wean, the milk production drops off. The goats at Dogwood Farms are not milked over the winter. This keeps them healthy and able to keep producing for years. They have five pastures where the grazing is rotated. They also eat local grains while on the milking stand and get alfalfa hay. The female kids usually end up in 4H programs and the males end up as meat.

Here are the steps to make the chevre cheese – one of my favorites.

1. The goat is milked in the morning and the milk is pasteurized to the correct temperature.
2. It is moved to a container and when the correct PH is achieved, rennet is added.
3. It sits with the rennet overnight. Then the PH is checked again.
4. The mixture is scooped into cheese cloth bags and drained for about a day to remove the whey.
5. Then, salt is added (about 1%) and it is packaged.

The Dancing Goat products are available to purchase at Art of the Table, Forest Hills Foods, Ninth Bridge Market, Harvest Health, John Russo’s Wine Warehouse, and Grand Central Market. They are served at San Chez, Six-One-Six, Bistro Bella Vita, The Green Well, Butch’s Dry Dock, Everyday People, and Bar Divani. Also look for it at Grove when they open in August.

Video posted by Dancing Goat Creamery in April.

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Dancing Goats

The Kids

The Buck: Little Richard

Nubian Goat

Barbara's Favorite: Sage

The Pasteurizer

Draining the Whey


  1. I would love to go with you sometime and bring Eli. He would love it!!

  2. This is so cool. Thanks Theresa!