A Sign of Success

11/3/2012 7:00 AM
By Laurie Savage Maryland Correspondent

Caprikorn Farm Showcases Award-Winning Goats, Cheese

GAPLAND, Md. — Snow-white Saanens stuck their heads through fences and happily climbed visitors feeding them animal cracker snacks at Caprikorn Farm’s annual open house.

The event was held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20 and 21, on the farm more than 150 goats call home.

Upon arriving at the farm, visitors were welcomed by farm owners and employees. Each received a sheet listing goat facts on one side and the day’s activities on the other. Activities included meeting kids, feeding treats, touring the milking facility and sampling cheese.

Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches made from the farm’s own variety of cheeses were for sale.

Alice Orzechowski and Scott Hoyman have raised award-winning Saanen goats on the farm since 1977. Not only are the goats known for their showring winnings, said employee Nathaniel King, they also garner many awards for their top-notch production and artisan cheeses.

From the goat’s milk, raw cheeses are made in small batches, with most of the cheeses aged over 200 days, according to a farm press release.

Cheese flavors include aged gouda, garlic and chive cheddar, baby swiss, sharp cheddar, Italian cheddar and jalapeno cheddar.

In addition, fresh chevre, named Baltimore Magazine’s Best Cheese in Baltimore for 2012, is made weekly from pasteurized goat milk.

“We take the milk two times per week to the cheesemaker,” said Orzechowski, who led several visitors on a tour of the parlor that holds 12 goats at a time for milking.

Plans are under way to add a facility to pasteurize the milk on farm. The herd was expanded about two years ago, and the milking herd now numbers 68.

About 75 percent of the farm’s does are currently pregnant, and to be sure, the veterinarian performs sonograms. Does are typically a year old when they kid for the first time.

“We’ll start freshening in the middle of January,” she said. No cheese will be made that month or for the first couple months of February as the milk goes to feed the young kids.

“We sell breeding stock all over the world,” Orzechowski said.

The goats have to go through a rigorous quarantine program both at home and at the airport when they are sold internationally.

“We sell 80 percent of our males to dairies,” she said.

At the last milk test, the Saanens were each averaging a little over a gallon of milk a day.

Goat milking was one activity featured during the open house, and Orzechowski went over some rules of milking. First, she showed visitors how to milk using her finger before Rocket was put on the stand for milking. Visitors put on gloves, then the teats were dipped and dried. She took the first squirt.

“There’s milk coming out, that means you should be able to get milk,” she told Vaughn Hatfield, 9, and Isabella Hatfield, 11, of Frederick.

Saanens have great dispositions, Orzechowski said, increased by the fact that she bottle fed about 150 babies in a year.

While she was milked, Rocket munched on a special feed mix Orzechowski has made at Farmers Cooperative Association Inc., that includes yeast and sunflower seeds.

Over in the food tent, Caprikorn’s corporate chef Nancey Veldran helped visitors put together personalized grilled cheese sandwiches, choosing their cheese and adding caramelized onions and apples.

Caprikorn’s fresh chevre was recently featured in a dessert truffle recipe made for the 2012 Buy Local Cookout with Gov. Martin O’Malley. The cheese is incorporated with dark chocolate and Elk Run Vineyards’ Lord Baltimore Vintage Port.

“We paired with them on that, and it worked very well,” Orzechowski said.

Veldran helped develop the recipe, and concocts other recipes using the farm’s cheeses.

“Maryland’s support of small farms is incredible,” she said, from the governor and agriculture secretary all the way to the county level.

Veldran said the goats’ high-quality milk, including one of the lowest bacteria counts in the state among goat and cow dairies, contributes to the farm’s high-quality cheeses.

The cheeses are featured at area farmers markets in Virginia and Maryland, including Baltimore City.

For more information, visit http://caprikornfarms.com.

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