Eric and Ann Starbard have been milking goats and making fresh goat cheese since 1998. Their Crystal Brook Farm is a colonial farmstead, carved out of the woods in 1739—only three families have owned and operated the farm and its lands since that time. Eric and Ann handle all aspects of the farm, from running the sawmill, to pasture/hay field production, to herd management, milking and cheese making, to sales and marketing. They have their hands full, and they savor their lives as true farmers.
According to Ann, she and her husband are “motivated by taking the gifts from this earth—sun, land, water, plants, animals—and turning these into nutritious and delicious food. Earning money to pay bills and live. We want to live on our farm … and make a living from our farm. This isn’t easy or for the faint of heart. Many challenges and difficult days need to be overcome. Working with the animals, smelling the cheese ripening and listening to thankful customers motivates us to get through the tough days and savor the sweet ones.”
They learned how to make cheese by working with other cheese makers, taking classes, trial and error, and teaching classes.
Their favorite part of cheesemaking is the work to continually improve milk quality—components, flavor, low bacteria counts—and working with the curd, and (oh yea) “EATING the cheese!” says Ann.
They currently milk sixty goats of three breeds: Saanen, Alpine, and LaMancha. Earlier, they milked 45 dairy cows for twenty years, and Ann also worked in a pathology laboratory and for an international agricultural organization—working mainly with goats!
Ann and Eric sell at local farmers’ markets, and after many years, have still not met the demand for their cheese. While the chevre (fresh goat cheese) market is somewhat saturated, their local farmstead cheese stands out for its own qualities and taste—a quality that comes from steady attention to animal care, pasture feeding, and care of the milk.
Their cheeses, all from pasteurized goats milk are:
- Chevre in these flavors: Classic Plain, Cracked Black Pepper, Chive, Dill, Garlic & Basil, Sun-dried Tomato & Basil, Jalapeno/Cilantro, Cranberry/Orange, Australian Ginger, Lemon & Lavender, Mediterranean Marinated and Provencal Marinated.
The farm is open to visitors 7 days/week, 7 am – dusk for self-guided tours. The farm store is open Wednesday – Sunday, 7 am – 7 pm early March through December. Guided Tours (three options are available) are by appointment only. Please see the Crystal Brook Farm website for details.