Jillian Greenawalt discovered her love for goats while she was living in Bremerton, Washington, with husband Jeremy, who was then stationed at the Naval base. Greenawalt went looking for raw goat’s milk and became inspired by a goat dairy she found near Shelton, Washington. As it happened, Jillian’s mother-in-law, who lives in Idaho, found an article about Laura Sluder of Blue Sage Farm in Shoshone, Idaho. At the time, Sluder was sending sheep’s milk from her herd of milking ewes to nearby Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese, and the Ballards were making cheese for Sluder at their facility. Why not work something out with Sluder? Jillian and her husband moved to Idaho and eventually, a cheesemaker was born.
Greenawalt has since developed a unique cooperative working relationship and cheesemaking system with Sluder. Greenawalt maintains her own herd of about 20 goats, a mixed herd of La Manchas and Alpines, at her place about 10 miles from Sluder’s farm. When her does freshen in the spring, she takes them to Blue Sage Farm, where they’re let loose to graze with the sheep. The goats are milked daily along with the sheep. Sluder converted her bulk tank room to a cheesemaking room, enabling her to produce cheese on the farm rather than having to ship milk to the Ballard's place….. and now Greenawalt keeps busy making cheese from the sheep’s milk, which Sluder sells under her Blue Sage Farm brand, and from the goat’s milk, with Greenawalt sells under her own Green Goat Dairy label. “Things definitely get tight sometimes, when both the sheep and goats are milking and I’m making cheese almost every day,” says Greenawalt., “but we have developed a good system. Laura takes care of the animals and I make the cheese. It has worked out well for us.”
Greenawalt makes a variety of fresh and flavored chevres (word is that her lavender fennel chevre is amazing) as well as feta and goat’s milk soap. While Green Goat Dairy cheeses are currently only available in Idaho, those outside the state can console themselves by ordering soap from her website here. Greenawalt says she’s hoping to experiment with blue and mixed sheep/goat’s milk cheeses next year, so that will definitely be something to look forward to.
Green Goat Dairy PO Box 516 Gooding, ID 83330
Bonus track: here’s a recent interview with Greenawalt that aired on Radio Boise in October of 2012.
[update: in early 2013 Blue Sage Dairy announced that it was merging with Green Goat Dairy as the Greenawalts were leaving Idaho to move to New York. Blue Sage Dairy will now be making both goat's milk and sheep's milk cheeses.]