I always bring my groups to visit Nora Kravis at the Cashmere goat farm in Radda but I want to have an arsenal of choices for my guests so I decided to try something new. Podere le Fornaci is also a goat farm but instead of producing cashmere, they produce cheese.
On the way to Greve, there is a town called Gretti near where the farm is located.
We are welcomed by Michele, who is the master cheese maker. He first arrived at the farm through the organisation WWOOF (http://wwoofinternational.org/) as a volunteer seven years ago and never left. After a brief history of the farm, we are given blue surgeon-like booties to protect our shoes. We meet Mateo who is our stable guide. Mateo has an advanced degree in animal husbandry and has lived on the farm for three years.
The first stable houses the adult goats, all female except for the one male, named Elvis.
If you ever wondered about the expression “horny old goat” after observing Elvis, you will understand.
All of the goats are the breed called Camosciate delle Alpi. They eat organic pellets (fit for human consumption) as well as alfalfa, grass and hay. Christa tried one of the pellets and pronounced it delicious. In fact, I think she filled her pockets when Mateo wasn’t looking.
When the goats are ill, their medicine is homeopathic. We see where the goats are milked, twice a day, eight at a time, on a special platform.
Mateo has an unusual story to tell us.
“Last night, someone came to the barn and abandoned two goats. We certainly will take care of them but we are concerned about their health. We cannot risk exposing our goats to any disease so we must keep them insolation.”
We have all heard of people abandoning cats and dogs but this is the first time I have heard of goat abandonment.
We next move to the nursery stable where at this time of the year, there are about thirty females. These kids are curious and flocked around us, nibbling on our clothes and allowing us to pet them.
Mateo explains about a particularly friendly goat.
“Her mother was killed by a wolf right after she gave birth so her baby was raised by me and bottle fed. She thinks I’m her mother. “
We linger in the field captivated by the kids until it was time to move on to the cheese tasting.
We are turned over to Lia, an ex-videographer who decided that life in front of a computer monitor was not for her.
She introduces us to their cheese making process where only organic ingredients are used.
We each have a plate in front of us, with six samples of cheese. Michelle went to France to learn from the best so most of the cheeses produced here are made in the French style.
We start our tasting with the simplest (and maybe most delicious) goat cheese and travel counter clockwise around the plate, ending with the strongest cheese. The rind was always safe to eat because of the pure ingredients. We were also served a local organic wine, fresh bread and honey produced on the property.
When we leave the tasting room, we see the vegetable gardens, fruit trees and meet the chickens. There is a mobile home where the WOOFERS live.
When the baby goats are born in the spring, I can imagine the farm alive with the sounds of two hundred kids calling for their mothers.
During the tour, I am especially captivated by Alita, the yellow lab who never left our sides.
Now I have two choices for my guests- for those interested in weaving and fabric, the Cashmere goat farm is a wonderful place to visit and for those more interested in dairy production, Podere le Fornaci is sure to delight.
And for people like me, we can visit both places.