There aren't very many farms left in Silicon Valley. Back in the 1960's and 1970's, the formerly agricultural region started to be seen as a better place to grow tech companies than food, and much of the land was razed to build homes and office parks. Luckily the San Mateo County coast still his a number of small farms continuing the region's agricultural heritage.
Harley Farms Goat Dairy is a dairy farm in Pescadero, California. The farm features an on-site cheese shop where you can buy any of their homemade goat milk products, made fresh daily. The farm also offers a one-hour tour that takes guests into the pasture to meet the goats, through the milking building, into the kitchen to learn about their cheese-making process, and finally into their rustic hay barn to sample their fresh cheeses.
It's an interesting experience for foodies and fun for the whole family.
Meeting the goats at Harley Farms
The Harley Farms goat tour starts with a visit to the pasture to meet these lovely ladies.
Well, hello there!
The farmers tip the goats' horns to keep them from injuring each other when they fight and play. The roots stay sensitive, and the goats enjoy rubbing their horns up against visitors. Our guide said it was like scratching an itch.
Do remember to wear closed-toe shoes for this hike out into the muddy pasture. I didn't, and regretted it.
Llamas on watch
The farm has two llamas out in the pasture that, I was surprised to learn, help to secure the herd. They watch over the goats at night, protecting them from coyotes and human intruders.
If you visit Harley Farms during the spring (mid-February to late May), you are likely to see the newborn and adolescent goats. The farm tour takes you into the goat "nursery" where you get to meet, and possibly even hold, the young goats.
Inside the goat milking barn
The goats are milked once a day in the morning and then the machines and several miles of lines), are cleaned and thoroughly disinfected.
Making goat cheese--straining out the whey.
The next stop is the kitchen, where the fresh milk is cultured and strained for several days. Afterward, it is pressed into cheese and packaged for sale.
Adding edible flowers and herbs to the cheese
In the kitchen, all the children on our tour were invited to try their hand at pressing flowers and herbs into the fresh cheese.
Goat cheese tasting at the end of the farm tour
The best part of the tour: the tasting, when you get to sample several varieties of Harley Farms' fresh goat cheeses.
The Harley Farms edible flower and herb garden
All the edible flowers and herbs used to package the farm's creations are grown on-site, in these gardens.
The Harley Farms Cheese Shop
Last stop: The Harley Farms cheese shop to pick up some cheese and local craft food products to take home.
Feel free to stock up--goat cheese freezes well.