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Powell ‘23 Learning the Art of Goat Midwifery

When asked what’s involved in delivering goats, Colette Powell ‘23 explains it is mostly a lot of quiet observation.  She carefully watches the does of the herd for signs of labor. Often, shifts in temperature can predict when labor may begin. The job is a big responsibility, especially as labor can begin at all hours. 

Powell has gained the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of goat midwifery at Northern Spy Farm in Sandgate, Vermont.  Owned by a longtime family friend, Northern Spy is the smallest dairy farm in Vermont. Colette is now in her fifth year of apprenticeship.  She says she has lost track of how many births she has seen, but guesses it is in the dozens. 

Goats are born in the spring, for a May through October milking season. Northern Spy Farms milks all of its goats by hand. Powell has had the opportunity to taste the product, and explains that she can detect subtle differences in flavors, depending upon the diet of the animals. The herd is comprised of American Nubian Dairy Goats. Northern Spy Farm produces hard cave-aged cheese called Goat Song Tomme and sells American Dairy Goat Association registered kids.

Asked if there is anything surprising about goats, Powell shared that she was delighted to find that some are swimmers.  She is enjoying all that she is learning about the animals, and also enjoying having fresh goat milk for her morning coffee. 

We think Colette is amazing!

3 thoughts on “Powell ‘23 Learning the Art of Goat Midwifery”

    1. cheese
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      Northern Spy’s Goat Song Tomme is a surface-ripened cheese made from raw goat milk. The tommes are produced seasonally from May through October following the growth of pasture grasses and woodland browse in southwestern Vermont. The milk comes from a small herd of nine American Nubian does who are milked by hand twice a day–morning and evening. The tommes are made in small batches, two or three at a time, hand-salted and aged in an underground cave for at least eight weeks. On average only seventy tommes are made each year and each tomme weighs between three and four pounds.

      Sean Faeth, cheese manager at Artisanal, describes Northern Spy’s Goat Song tomme as such:
      “It has a nutty aroma. The palate is slightly eggy on the attack followed by grassy and herbaceous notes with a touch of white pepper spice and an undertone reminiscent of olives. These savory flavors meld beautifully with buttery notes of sweet cream followed by a hint of salt and mild goaty notes. The texture is yielding and slightly crumbly and the finish is long and savory. On the whole this cheese shows its roots in French Mountain style tommes, but is unique and firmly rooted in the American Farmstead tradition. It is a beautiful example of a lovingly hand crafted product, and should prove to be intriguing in many stages of its life.”

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