Welcome to the herd

Published 3:51 pm Monday, January 6, 2014

Stone Hollow Farmstead will welcome more than 300 goats to its herd beginning in January. (Contributed.)

Stone Hollow Farmstead will welcome more than 300 goats to its herd beginning in January. (Contributed.)

Harpersville farm prepares for arrival of hundreds of baby goats

 By Ginny Cooper/For the Reporter

HARPERSVILLE – Stone Hollow Farmstead, an artisan farm in Harpersville, will welcome more than 300 baby goats to its herd from mid-January to March of this year.

Deborah Stone, owner and chief cheese-maker, describes this season as, “a little bit crazy.”

“We aren’t sleeping; we’re helping,” she said.

Stone Hollow is a relatively new dairy – the farm purchased its first goats in 2009 – and all of the baby goats must be bottle-fed three to four times a day. The goats are bottle-fed so that the does’ milk can be pasteurized prior to feedings in order to stop any diseases from spreading through the herd. The feeding system is much like a daycare, Stone said, with different ages grouped together.

Last year, the farm experienced an especially hectic birthing schedule. “We had 24 does freshen (give birth) in 24 hours, so we had 48 babies born in one day,” Stone said. “But it’s all worth it to have a happy, healthy herd of goats.”

Stone Hollow Farmstead also runs a farm school to introduce children and adults to farm life.

The first activity for the children is a trip to the nursery. “There is a sea of baby goats. It looks like snow,” Stone said. “We spend about 20-25 minutes out there. We let the baby goats love on them (the children).” Participants complete a variety of activities throughout the day such as gathering eggs and vegetables, observing goats and cows being milked, and making lunch from foods they have harvested on the farm.

The baby goats, however, are often the highlight of their experience. “If they didn’t do anything but pet the babies and bottle feed them, they’d have had a great experience,” Stone said.

The farm raises three different breeds of goats in order to produce the best product possible. Sannan goats, a pure white goat, produce a high-volume of milk; Alpine and Nubian goats produce milk with a high-fat content that gives Stone Hollow goat cheese its creamy consistency.

Stone Hollow Creamery Goat Cheese can purchased from The Pantry, Stone Hollow Farmstead’s restaurant and store located in Crestline Village, as well as from many local grocery stores.