Tricia Smith likes the process of making, and farmstead cheesemaking has everything she could possibly want in terms of care, craft and science. As the goats’ caretaker, Tricia delights in transforming their milk into what she and her husband Michael Holland believe are some of the finest bloomy-rind cheeses in the country. Self-taught, Tricia has been cheesemaking since 2001, was first commercially licensed as “Carlisle Farmstead Cheese” in 2005, and rechristened the operation “Ruggles Hill Creamery” in 2010 when she, Michael, and the goats moved to Hardwick, MA.
Ruggles Hill raises American Oberhasli and American Saanen dairy goats and works to breed and keep healthy goats whose conformation will equate to longevity and productivity. Select bucks are sought and brought in as part of breed improvement programs. Tricia and Michael value healthy, well-conformed, well-socialized goats, and their well-being is the first priority of the business.
The goats are housed in barns where they are provided with a mix of grass hays and alfalfa, graze and rest in fenced pastures, and are taken seasonally on supervised browse walks in the lower unfenced woodlands and pastures. While the mainstay of the goats’ diet is forage, Tricia feeds non-GM beet pulp and a small organic grain-based dairy ration to does in milk, older kids, and to the bucks in mating season in order to foster good body condition. The does are allowed to raise their kids, and, as a result, the kids are well-socialized and growthy with robust immune systems. Tricia milks the herd twice a day, year-round.
While Tricia manages and performs day-to-day operations and long-term planning both for the goat herd and cheesemaking, her husband, Michael Holland, acts as her special projects manager. “Special” is broadly encompassing and ranges from midwifery to general contracting for construction.
Tricia and Michael are both civil engineers, Tricia MIT-trained and Michael educated at Tufts. Michael is still a practicing partner in a Cambridge design firm. Farming skipped a generation in Tricia’s family with her father happily escaping the family dairy farm in western PA (now a heritage farm) as a young man.
Ruggles Hill Creamery produces these cheeses from their goats’ milk:
- Ada’s Honor, Tricia’s version of a French chabichou, 4 oz
- Alys’s Eclipse, an ashed bloomy-rind goat disc aged as a small 4 ounce disk.
- Ellie’s Cloudy Down,a grey-surfaced pyramid, 6 oz.
- Claire’s Mandell Hill, a bloomy rind cylinder with an herb midline, 8 oz.
- Hanna’s Awashed, a cider-washed cylinder aged with a grey surface, 8 oz.
- Meg’s Big Sunshine, a camembert-style disc, 10 oz.
- Greta’s Fair Haven, a raw milk tomme aged with a grey surface, 1 pound
- Kay’s Eclipse, an ashed bloomy rind goat cheese with an ashed midline, aged as a small 1-1/4 pound tomme.
- Lea’s Great Meadow, a bloomy-rind tomme with an herbed midline,a 1-1/4 pound tomme.
- Brothers’ Walk, a goats’ milk brie ripened with the grey surface, 1-1/2 pound
- Custom cheeses upon request
Awards: ACS (14 times), Big E (17 times including Best-in-Show and Reserve Best-in-Show), American Dairy Goat Association (18 times including Reserve Best-in-Show), Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice Food Award
The farm is not open to the public.
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