Creating Great Cheese Starts with Happy Animals
By Julia Howard, Market Administrator
“Happy goats (and sheep) make great cheese” has been Nettle Meadow Farm owners Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan’s motto ever since they first began creating cheese. That motto embodies their desire to share their products and philosophy with others in the Saratoga area.
Nettle Meadow joined the Saratoga Farmers’ Market this year as a Saturday vendor. They offer an array of fresh, semi-aged, and hard mold ripened offerings at the market and at other local retail outlets.
Their desire to connect with the local community is reflected not just in their presence at the market but also in the weekly tours they offer at their farm and the Kemp Animal Sanctuary that they have established on-site.
Lambiase and Flanagan began creating cheese in the 1990s while working at a law firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. They purchased two goats and raised them on a one-third acre homestead that they established in the yard of their home on a cul-de-sac.
“We weren’t happy at our jobs and we would look so forward to milking Shady Lady (their goat) before and after work,” reminisced Lambiase, with a laugh.
In 2005, Lambaise and Flanagan purchased Nettle Meadow, a 50-acre farm in Thurman, NY. Today, the farm houses more than 300 goats, dozens of sheep, guard llamas, chickens, and ducks. It also includes the Kemp sanctuary space for retired and rescued farm animals.
“Animals are the first priority and the cheese supports the animals,” said Lambaise as we toured the farm.
As we walked through the area, we passed a large goat with long black hair and spiraling horns.
“Alex, you are just magic,” Lambaise exclaimed.
Throughout the tour, she greeted the farm’s animals by name, told stories about them, and described their daily fare: natural grains, hay, kelp, wild herbs, raspberry leaf, and whey – a by-product of making cheese. Not only is the diet high in nutrients, it also is aimed at long-term sustainability. Little goes to waste.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at High Rock Park through October. The market moves indoors to the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park on November 4. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.