For Donna Gains of High Mountain Meadows Farm and Creamery, all it took was one agricultural project with her granddaughter to change her way of life. Before she became a farmer, Donna was a nurse for 30 years.
“When I retired, my granddaughter came to live with me and she wanted to do a 4-H project with goats. So now she’s all grown up and grandma has the goats,” Donna laughs.
Her creamery is in Clay County, in the far western corner of North Carolina. Last year she produced 400 pounds of goat’s milk cheddar, gouda, feta, and more—and raised the goats herself. They graze on the pasture and mountainsides of her 23-acre property year-round. “I have 16 does and 2 bucks and they keep busy, but they keep me happy,” she says.
Last year, she hosted her first public farm party with tours of the farm and a big meal featuring her cheese. “The 4-Hers were there manning the gate for the baby goats, so everybody could go in and play with the babies, and a lot of people just went in and sat in the grass and held the baby goats,” she says.
High Mountain Meadows Farm and Creamery has another farm party planned for this June. See her Facebook page for more information. We have a link to that and more stories about farmers in the Southern Appalachians at our Growing Local page.