If you want to see baby goats frolic through a field and learn how goat cheese is made, this is the place. The owner, Ann Starband, is a truly knowledgeable guide and can explain in detail each part of the process. Looking back at the visit a few friends and I made recently, I wish I had listened more; we spent most of the time enamored with all the goats!
This all started back in March, when a few of us went to the 2016 Boston Beer and Cheese Fest (because, come on, beer + cheese). We tried a many of beer, but tried EVERY cheese, and we kept coming back to the Crystal Brook Farm’s variety made with crystallized ginger. I never thought maxing on cheese was a possibility in my life, but there was a moment at the end of the night where I could feel the pound of consumed lactose in my stomach. At this point, I stopped eating the cheese, and started buying it.
The Crystal Brook Farm stand had already run out of all the regular sized cheese packs, but no big deal, there was a 2.5lb one. We also chatted with two of the farm’s lovely volunteers. While they were dancing and enjoying a window of customer-less time, we actually kind of pounced on them, unreserved with beer and heavy with cheese love:
“Hey you guys volunteer to make cheese? THAT IS SO COOL WE LOVE CHEESE TOO WANNA HANG OUT.”
In the end, we ended up waking up slightly embarrassed by our overzealous attempt in gaining cheese-making friends, but pleased overall while we pulled out our haul of the night, one brick at a time.
We also learned about the farm tours at the festival, and contacted the owner to see when we could see these goats! This little Saturday afternoon adventure was a lovely day out of dodge. You don’t have to go far west of Boston to start seeing the rolling hills of central Massachusetts.
Once we got to the Crytal Brook Farm, Ann showed us the goat barn! We spent a lot of time narrating what the goats must have been thinking. Take a look at old auntie Gretta’s disgust at the kids running a ruckus:
We then got a tour of the cheese-making facilities. We were impressed with how knowledgeable and responsible Ann was with every step of the process.. You really need to be self sufficient as a farmer. She knew how to care for her goats, how to get the milk, how to engineer the milk filtration and plumbing, and of course, how to make the cheese.
Our tour ended with an interactive lesson in cheese mixing, where we added crystallized ginger, rolled the cheese, and preserved it.
If you’re interested in goat farming or cheese making, I totally recommend giving Ann a call at the farm and checking it out. She also has a cheese shop and partners with local CSAs!