The Bible advises, “Don’t throw your pearls before swine,” and, after a night of learning at the Flower Mound Public Library, I can tell you that you shouldn’t throw your tin cans to goats, either.
On a recent September evening, Johnny and Anne Jones, the owners of the Latte Da Dairy goat farm spoke lovingly about their “kids” on their acreage in west Flower Mound. Several dozen people, from the mildly curious to real goat aficionados, packed the auditorium to hear about their Nubian and Lamancha goats, and the dairy products they produce.
“No, they don’t really eat cans,” Johnny answered my mandatory question. “In fact, we had some roofers out one day. One of them threw a half-eaten breakfast burrito to a goat, but the goat just sniffed it and walked away.”
“They’re actually pretty particular about what they eat,” added Anne. I’ll just bet they can climb on a roof quicker than many a roofer, too.
The husband and wife team originally started out with just two goats, but well, you know how nature works. They now take care of more than two dozen. “They have very individual personalities, and are much like Golden Retrievers,” Anne explained.
Anne, who is a trained veterinarian, surprised many of us by mentioning that even though there are a number of goat farms in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area alone, there was no specific training about goats in her medical school.
But just how different is goats’ milk and cheese from cows’? “It is very similar,” Anne explains, “but many kids (the human kind), who can’t have regular dairy can digest goat dairy products without any problems. We don’t use the term organic, because we do use antibiotics when it’s necessary,” Anne expounded.
What’s the “secret” to running a successful goat farm?
“Great milk makes great cheese,” is their motto.
Just how does one obtain great milk?
“You need happy goats,” Anne continued, raising the curiosity of many. “”Happy goats are the ones that get good nutrition and are maintained in good health. They’re milked twice a day, not once, as cows are. Our average goat produces about a gallon of milk a day.
“The goats know the milking order as well as their names, so we can call them into the milking area in a pretty orderly fashion.”
Johnny and Anne have fun naming them, dubbing them such monikers as, “Jackie O,” “Talk Show O” (for Oprah), “Mae West,” “Bonnie & Clyde,” “Ginger Rogers,” and the room’s overriding favorite, “Michelle Yo-Bama.”
Johnny explained about the initial milk storing problem, “America’s commercial dairies are so huge, the smallest “cooling tanks” used hold 1500 gallons. We needed something slightly smaller, and ended up buying 52 gallon tanks from the Czech Republic.” Sometimes you just have to outsource overseas.
But milk is not what the Latte Da Dairy is most famous for. It’s their award winning cheeses.
Anne regresses, “Back when I was in the corporate world, I would travel to business meetings, and was always asked if I’d brought any of my goat cheese. It caught on. In 2006, our goat cheese won a first place prize from the American Dairy Goat Association.
“Back when we just had two goats, we could milk them by hand, but now we do use machines,” Johnny says, adding, “We have more than just goats, too, with guard dogs that protect the goats and alert us if other animals approach.”
“Our cats keep the mice out of the barn,” Anne adds. “And now we have two chickens, too.” It doesn’t sound like she’s heading back to the corporate world anytime soon.
But what about the cheese? There were free samples at the library that were excellent, both extremely smooth and some with a little tang to them. If you find this a less than satisfactory way to try it, you’re in luck. They sell their cheese at places such as Central Market in Southlake.
Also, their farm is only open to the public once or twice a year…and the next opportunity is almost upon us: Sunday, October 23. Their website is www.lattedadairy.com and phone number is 817-490-5004. Latte Da Dairy is also on Facebook.
Asked about whether they raise goats for meat, they explain that this only happens if they accidentally get a male that’s cross breeded between the Nubians and Lamanchas. Anne asserts, “I’m real particular about where my animals go. After all, I brought them into this world.”
I’d like to thank the Flower Mound Public Library and Jill Dawson for helping out with the article.
Contact John LaVine at [email protected]