‘Knark, knark, knark’. If you listen carefully, this is the sound of dandelions having their heads chopped off by eager goats.
A fresh piece of land has just been released for the goats. For the last eight weeks the land has rested giving way to new vegetation. This rotation of grassland is also called holistic grazing.
One Sunday morning, I visited Copenhagen Goat Milk, one of the newest farmstead dairies in Denmark.
In 2017, Claus and Summer bought a house in the countryside with 13 ha / 32 ac. This is also the home for their two children who now are seven and fifteen. This morning we are sitting in the courtyard with the most beautiful and deliciously arranged cheese board with bread. For a moment I feel time has paused. Pure idyll!
But it’s also pretty obvious that the dream about goats and dairy doesn’t come easy. Claus used to work as an accountant and this has taught him to gather and process information. Indeed the ability to acquire new material has proven vital when you decide to make cheese. With a background in the military and from elite cycling he knows how to opmitise things. As well as – at least this is what I believe – how to set a goal and fight to obtain it.
No doubt, it’s hard work to keep track of 130 goats, 100 hens, a dairy and recently also a farm outlet. And yet, a day still counts 24 hours.
Goats are cultural heritage
You need to start from the beginning, also when you want to create your own flock of goats. The breed is Danish landrace (‘dansk landrace’) which is currently on the UN list of endangered animal species. Right now there are 3-400 goats in Denmark. In the beginning, Claus and Summer bought a few goats here and another few goats there and now they have started to breed on their own animals. Right now they have four male goats, 48 milking goats and 78 baby goats.
This type of goat fits to the Danish climate, they loose their wool in the summer and can handle winter and snow with their winter fur. At Copenhagen Goat Milk, they goats decide themselves whether they want to be in or out. The less stress, the better milk quality.
Baby goats and their mothers
It’s quite rare these days that you see a dairy cow/sheep/goat together with their kids. But here they spend the day together and the nights apart. After the morning milking, they graze together again. The goats give of course less milk but this is how they have decided to do it until the kids are three-four months old.
What is holistic grazing?
When we talk about grazing, it is obvious that Claus has more at heart. He uses the tecnique called holistic grazing which means that you continously change the grazing area leaving some parts to rest.
The goats are only allowed to a new area after six to eight weeks of rest. This allows topsoil to come which again holds on the water. Roots get longer and new leaves grow. Actually, more CO2 is contained. The goats get a new fresh area every day which means more milk and higher quality.
Claus moves the poles a bit every day and invites the goats to fresh grass and dandelions. In return, the goats munch in concentrated silence.
Grass and ruminants is a match made in heaven!
Habits and character
Goats are curious and fun animals. They watch us closely until one is brave enough to come over to pinch my hand and clothes.
Swallows fly around inside the stable. They eat flies and thus help Claus to avoid insecticides.
How to learn to make cheese
The original entrance of the house and a bedroom is now turned into a small dairy.
Summer was born in Thailand and nobody would have thought her future career was to be a cheese master. Nonetheless, here she is: Making cheeses and yoghurt in her own farmstead dairy. She learned by reading, talking to others and above all watching Youtube videos.
Look at this amazingly beatiful cheese board:
Small round snack cheeses in oil and herbs are in the bowl. Followed by beautiful fresh cheeses decorated with thyme/chives/lavender & dandelion. Behind a moulded chèvre with two different ages.
Would you like to taste?
Right now you have to be in Denmark to taste the cheeses. Visit the farm outlet (find the address and opening hours on facebook. You may also find their cheeses at local markets and restaurants. At the farm, apart from cheese you can buy icecream and soap.
On their list of future projects they have organic and raw milk cheeses and I can’t wait to follow them along their future road. Good luck!!!