In Harrisburg, Missouri, about 20 miles north of Columbia, Ken and Jenn Muno raise around 50 goats on pasture at Goatsbeard Farm. Their herd is a mix of crosses between Nubian, Sable Saanen and LaMancha breeds, and because goats are seasonal breeders, the Munos plan their farming and cheesemaking schedules around the goats’ natural breeding and birthing cycles.
“[Goats] naturally are bred in the fall and have kids in the spring, and so we go with that schedule,” Jenn says. “There’s always a break of about three months where we aren’t milking or making cheese [in winter], which is great because it’s so cold and there’s no pasture [for the goats] to eat.”
Ken, the cheesemaker, uses the goat's milk to make a range of cheeses, including fresh chèvre, a bloomy-rind cheese, a range of raw-milk cheeses and Franklin Island Feta. Named for a small isle in the Missouri River, the Feta is made with gently pasteurized milk and finished in a slightly salty brine. Milk is pasteurized and then cultured for an hour before rennet is added; it then sits for another hour. The curd is then cut, stirred and dipped into Feta “boxes,” where it's left to press for about 16 hours. Next, the cheese is cut into two-pound blocks and placed into plastic buckets filled with salt brine. The Feta ages in the brine for about a month before it’s ready to package and sell at grocery stores and the Columbia Farmers’ Market, as well as Local Harvest Grocery in St. Louis. Look for the 2017 batch available for purchase next month. (Photo by Jonathan Gayman)
Goatsbeard Farm, 11351 Callahan Creek Road, Harrisburg, Missouri, 573.875.0706, goatsbeardfarm.com