Labor relations… Little Brown Farm style

For those that don’t know us, we are a small dairy. We actually are even classified as a micro-dairy.

It is very likely that we will never be able to produce enough of our delicious cheeses to satisfy the devoted tastebuds of our region on our tiny acreage, with our little herd.

That alone makes us ‘cool’.

The fact that we are a goat micro-creamery – having both goats (the most awesome-est creatures ever) and cheese (not just milk), makes us even whey more ‘cool’ (us cool kids like to use puns).

We get a lot of interest in people who want to be cool too. They want to come to our farm, play with the kids, play in our pristine cheese room and be part of this magnificent, bucolic, cool place. Who could blame them? Who wouldn’t?

But that isn’t reality of dairying. The majority of our tasks don’t involve cute cuddly kids, or even making cheese… it involves herd health and things like cleaning stalls, trimming hooves, arranging for feed, feeding, scrubbing buckets, filling buckets, trudging through ankle deep mud, reseeding pastures, putting up fences, taking down fences, moving fences, giving shots, drenching sick animals, inspecting, cleaning and milking udders, watching and waiting – in the cold and wet usually, and making hard life-impacting decisions.

It does also involve exceptionally special moments every single day, scratches and hugs for Velvet Rose, kisses from Xenia and kids leaping off of hay bales to show you their bounce, mommas sleeping so soundly their hums and snores sound like a symphony… and the smell of fresh cheese in the cheese room.

  • Xenia - French kiss?
  • Xenia: You wanna kiss? French style, like them cheeses?

In a moment of weakness, I decided to take one person up on her offer to ‘help’ on the farm – in exchange for learning our ways. I am exceptionally skeptical of this type of arrangement, but after a few emails and an in-person meeting, I was ready to commit if she was.

And she was! She showed up (when we expected), she worked her butt off scrubbing moldy bins, tromping through thicker mud than she has probably ever experienced in Brooklyn or Manhattan, helping with cleaning and scrubbing on hands and knees on cold, wet concrete… and those were the ‘easy’ tasks! Then she showed up the second day, and the third day too!

When we needed it the most, at a time of transition from winter to spring on the farm, when sick animals are distracting me from the never-ending to-do list, she is here and she is all in.

She has been so helpful, we decided to teach her how we milk.

A natural born goat milker

A natural milker is harder to come by than you might think. We were suprised and happy!

And we let her in on a little secret… you know we are in the center of the coffee drinkers universe right? Well, we like our lattes fresh and Whidbey style…

First you add the warm milk to your waiting coffee, one squeeze at a time.

  • Pro-Milker!
  • I think she’s a pro at this milking thing…

Then you consume your frothy delight to warm you from the inside out (especially on a cold and wet day like today!).

  • Enjoy that latte
  • Always time for a coffee break in the Puget Sound!

Then you humbly declare this the best and certainly the freshest latte you’ve ever had…

Coffee break
The best latte ever!

So, for all those New Yorkers that know a friendly, helpful, fun gal by the name of Shannon McLaughlin… you just might not get her back!! But if you do, know she will be bringing with her all of our cheesemaking secrets, from my mentors recipe to our secret proprietary new cheese development processes (we make it and eat it and see if we like it… I guess the secret is out!).

Thank you for loaning me one of your treasures from the wonderfully rich East Coast. You couldn’t have sent a better one our way!!

Oh, and she said she KNOWS the East Coast is pretty hip on that Kickstarter thing… so check out ours: – we need all the help we can get, so pledge for some of the cool rewards and please spread the word!

Now, back to the barn for another maternity check on Jazz… more babies are coming!!


About Chief Milkmaid

A former executive, now goatmilker and cheesemaker, I am the Chief Milkmaid of the Little Brown Farm.
This entry was posted in About the Farm, Cheese, Oprah's Favorite Things - if my name was Oprah not Vicky and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Labor relations… Little Brown Farm style

  1. She has been awesome to work with! I also am very thankful for all her help, her genuine interest in the process, and her sunny disposition. 🙂

  2. Carole says:

    How totally delightful! Vicky, not only are you an incredible milk maid, cheese maker, etc. (and ever so loving farmer), you are an awesome writer! So glad I know you. You might sunlight to even a dismal day.

  3. Diane Williams says:

    Great read! I was a little reluctant to read the article at first (being a uber keen hand waver at volunteer meetings), but was happy that the experience turned out to be such a great one on both sides.

    Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to more.

  4. Thanks Diane! So glad to have you join us here on the farm… at least the online version!
    Knowing you’re a habitual hand waver, beware about actually coming to the farm… now we know what to do with that type! 😉

  5. And what you don’t know is when Shannon isn’t helping Vicky and Tom and Anna with all the milk goats, she is at our little fiber goat farm, helping raise our triplet pygora babies, one who is being supplemented with a bottle, and helping prepare for the other babies on the way, picking up eggs from the chicken coop, putting up new fences here and being the all-around goat herdress! A far cry from Brooklyn-Manhatten life 🙂

  6. sandi says:

    Nice work!

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