All About the Goats: Visiting Redwood Hill Farm
Redwood Hill Farm in California is open to public visits two weekends every year.
Bands play, goats are paraded, and cheese is tasted. "I love seeing children run up to taste the goat milk yogurt," owner and award-winning cheesemaker Jennifer Bice says. "There were many years when we did in-store tastings and the word 'goat' would make people recoil in fear or disgust, so it's really gratifying to see such a change in attitudes and taste."
The farm, set in the hills of Sonoma county just outside of Sebastopol, includes charming red-and-white painted buildings, an old orchard of mainly Gravenstein apples but also peach and plum trees, and a huge organic garden filled with berries, tomatoes, corn, greens, and herbs (some of which are used in the flavored chèvres). There is also a lively chicken coop up the hill above the pastures and milking barn. And, of course, there are the goats to visit and pet. They come up to people just like dogs, looking for treats and affection.
Things at Redwood Hill Farm still center on the goats, and one of Bice’s great pleasures is seeing her goats win awards at goat shows. “It’s an additional income stream,” she says, “because then people want to buy our excess babies at a decent price.” That’s not the whole appeal, though. “I just love the puzzle. I see it as living art you can work on, seeing a great goat and finding things about her that can be improved...." She gazes at her 350-strong herd, munching on their always-available feed, lounging in their spacious shaded barn area open onto pasture, staring at their perfect view of Sonoma woods. One can't help but feel how much she cares for these goats.
To read more about Redwood Hill Farm, pick up the Fall 2012 issue of culture.
Written by Molly Watson. Formerly a staff food writer for Sunset magazine, Molly Watson is now San Francisco-based writer specializing in craft and cuisine.