Washington cheesemakers continue to multiply! Now at over thirty and still growing, this state is developing into a significant center of artisan cheesemaking. One of the newest of Washington's licensed cheesemakers is Herron Hill Dairy, a goat farm in tiny Home, Washington in Pierce County on Puget Sound. While Herron Hill is new to most of us, turns out they're already well known in the goat world as the home of Baby Belle, a tech-savvy Nigerian Dwarf goat whose blog, This Goat's Life, has been entertaining readers for several years. Most recently, cutting edge Belle has taken up Twitter as her newest medium of communication, the first goat ever to do so. Her stories of life on the farm are funny, revealing and engaging and offer a unique perspective on life on a dairy farm...She's one heck of an advocate as well, weighing in on contemporary issues such as the keeping of goats at the White House, a practice which dates to the Lincoln presidency.
Herron Hill plans to start selling goat's milk and raw milk cheeses in earnest in the spring; check Baby Belle's blog for updates. An Open House is also in the works, with details forthcoming soon.
Because I so rarely have the opportunity to interview a goat, I took some time out a few days ago to pose a few questions to Baby Belle.
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1. Tell us a little bit about yourself - were you born at Herron Hill? How would you describe your place in the herd hierarchy?
OK. Well as you probably know I am five years old and I am a purebred Nigerian Dwarf, which is the smallest and best of the dairy breeds. Many people assume that I was born here at Herron Hill Dairy, which is in the illustrious town of Home, Washington, site of one of the nation's most famous late 19th century anarchist colonies. That is probably because I seem like I might be an anarchist. In fact, though, I was born in Eastern Washington, in the Tri-cities area. When I was just a little kid the farmer picked me and my sister Snow Pea up at the Flying J Truck Stop in Ellensburg, which is about halfway between Walla Walla and Home. I rode home to Home after refreshing myself with a bottle of milk at the truck stop. In terms of the herd hierarchy, obviously I am the smartest and prettiest goat here. Not everyone agrees with that so luckily I am also a fast runner. For several years I was the farmer's personal milker, and the farmer would only make lattes with my milk, because it was the sweetest milk, but then it was decided that I would take some time off because I kept having big hungry triplets and then I would get milk fever. So now my daughter Baby Blue is the farmer's personal milker.
(photo of Baby Belle with Tricia and Richard Nixon in the Rose Garden courtesy Herron Hill Dairy)
2. What inspired you to start a blog? What are the hardest and most fun things about blogging? Would you recommend it to other goats?
I started a blog when I was a year old to keep track of my kidding countdown. About two weeks before my kids Jingle and Tinker (Belle, obviously) were born, I went online. The most fun part is getting email. I get email from all over the world - New Zealand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, even Minnesota. The hardest part is when I have to tell something sad that happened at the farm. Some years we lose baby goats during kidding season, or something else sad will happen. One year two of my grandsons were killed in a dog attack. This is probably the biggest fear at any goat farm, that there will be a dog attack. I would recommend blogging for some goats but not for Nubians.
3. I've found that sometimes if people know you are a blogger they avoid telling you things they think will end up on the blog. Do you find this to be the case at your farm? Do the other goats at Herron Hill read your blog and if so, what do they think of it?
Just the opposite. People and goats are always telling me, "here's something interesting, why don't you put it in your blog?" For example one year Scouty the Nubian 'discovered' that a lot of leaves had fallen off the trees in the autumn. She was very puzzled by it and wanted me to put it on my blog. "Leaves Fall From Trees" or some Nubian headline like that. As if. Honestly I don't know how many of the goats here actually read the blog regularly. I think some of them are really only pretending that they can read. On the other hand, one time I wrote that Winnie the LaMancha had an unrealistically high opinion of herself and was always going around t-boning everyone for no reason. I did not intend it as a criticism but just as a statement of fact. Anyway, right after that, she came up and t-boned me for no reason. Coincidence?
4. Is it true that goats have four stomach chambers?
Yes. But the most important organ is the brain.
5. Recently you made history as the first goat to ever tweet on Twitter. What inspires you to embrace cutting edge technology? Dd you find it helps you communicate with other goats - or are people your primary constituency, do you think?
Technology is our friend. Without technology there would be no microwave popcorn.
[ed note: follow Baby Belle on Twitter here]
6. What's next for Baby Belle?
I was just wondering that, too. If I feel like it I might work on my cookbook - "Baby Belle's Dairy Princess Cookbook" - which was supposed to come out a while ago. I may also spend part of the winter ruminating about the world's problems, and I might start a power-to-the-goats movement to return goats to the White House. As you probably know, the Lincoln family had pet goats when they lived on Pennsylvania Avenue. I think Caroline Kennedy will probably help me with that if she becomes the next Senator from New York, since she kept her pony Macaroni there. I understand there are a lot of really delicious rosebushes at the White House, so I think it would be a good fit. So there are a lot of things I might do. Or I might just sleep a lot. I will definitely try to eat as much hay as possible.