Sunday, November 11, 2012

goat cheese, please!

The Tidewater Crop Mob's latest assignment was to work at Shady Goat Farm in Virginia Beach for the day. 

Shady Goat Farm is Hampton Road's first licensed cheesemaking farm, and it was started back in April of this year by Shannon and Tim Rice. Shannon got her start as a hobby farmer after taking a goat farming class back in 2010. Two years later with much encouragement from friends to sell her delicious chevre to the public, she quit career in non-profit fundraising and marketing and began goat farming full time.
While it is always fun to help out our local produce farmers, it's at least twice as fun when animals are involved...

that's me with the goats:)
These goats were just the sweetest little things. I instantly fell in love with them.
Here's Shannon having a sweet moment with one of her goats.
Each of Shannon's 28 goats have cute names, ranging from Wendy Wattles to Andy Airplane to Uma Thurman. Her breeds include Saanens, Alpines, LaMancha Crosses and Nubians. The different breeds' milks provide different percentages of butter fat, and together these blend for the highest quality and best tasting goat cheese. Shannon does all her own milking (starting at 5am every morning) and cheesemaking. She even does all of her own sales at local farm markets including Old Beach Farmers' Market and Shop Farmers' Fare.

Shannon is one busy lady, and she needed all the help she could get! The Crop Mob's task was to help clean out the goats' barn, expand their current fenced-in space and spread sand in that area for moisture control.

I was really excited this particular morning, because for the first time in the Tidewater Crop Mob's history, my husband, John, came out to assist!

John proved to be a Crop Mob superstar that day:)
He teamed up with Eric, the guy driving the tractor - I knew that John would naturally be drawn to the heavy machinery aspects of the farming tasks:) I was so happy to have him there, and he made me so proud. I only wish that he could have driven the tractor himself:)

Lara Haner, the Crop Mob Boss, was there working hard, as always.

 As usual, Ava didn't help much. But she always tends to find her own thing. That day, she was pretty interested in Shady Goat Farm's loyal and vigilant (if not a little nervous) watchdog, Bruce the Goose.

Bruce did allow Ava to feed him - with Shannon at her side.


Ava also had fun climbing the goats' cinder block "pyramid".

At first, she remained unnoticed and unchallenged.
But not for long...
Oops! Guess there could only be one queen of that "hill."

Everyone worked hard...
...but it was so rewarding.
As we found out, Shannon has been running the farm on her own since she started it as a business. Her husband has been working in Afghanistan for over six months. 
You could tell how much Shanon appreciated all of the help. I think it almost brought her to tears. 
There is not much that impresses me more than a woman running a farm on her own!

She gave each of the Crop Mobbers some goat cheese to take home:)
 The sweet, sweet goats even seemed to share the appreciation.

They seemed to really like their newly cleaned barn and their expanded space to in which to roam.

I think this one showed her gratitude with a little smile:)


Check out Shady Goat Farm and support a Hampton Roads goat farm!

Shady Goat Farm on Facebook!


  1. I think Shannon is enjoying farming as what the pictures says and all of the people around her. Also hoping to taste their Goat Cheese because I love goat cheese very much. By the way the post was great!

    1. Thanks so much, Sue! Yes, you must try Shannon's goat cheese...also, check out New Earth Farm's "Junebug in the Garden" cooking class series - I believe each of those classes incorporate Shady Goat Farm goat cheese:)

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