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Goat farm known for its fine cheese

THURMAN They work long days, tending their goats and making their cheese, a far cry from the urban lifestyle in Oakland, Calif. that they left behind.
Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan have been running the Nettle Meadow Goat Farm in Thurman since July of 2005 when they closed on the property. Both had worked in the legal field, Flanagan as an attorney and Lambiase as a legal secretary, for 20 years in California. Flanagan is originally from Connecticut and Lambiase from New Jersey.
While in California, the two had begun raising some Nigerian Dwarf Goats, for their milk and to make cheese about a year ago.
We used to joke about quitting our jobs and raising goats, Lambiase said. We did.
Well, almost. Flanagan continues to work full time for the California law firm she previously worked for, via telephone and computer.
I need to continue my law work until we can begin making a profit with the farm, she said. I telecommute to California every day and then I work on the farm.
Sometimes shell be taking a deposition on the phone with a baby goat on her lap, Lambiase said.
The two have Denise Hill as herd manager and Helen Baker who helps in the cheese room to help with the work of running the farm and business. Flanagans mother recently retired and now lives and works at the farm as well.
Nettle Meadow had an excellent reputation for its goat cheese before the two bought it, and now theyve built on that reputation. Lambiase said that they had steady customers when they took over the business and theyve not only kept those customers, but doubled the number.
We have some high volume customers now that want a lot of high end cheese, Flanagan said. She said the four best cheese shops in New York City are now regular customers, and one of them, Murrays Cheese, has named Nettle Meadows Kunik cheese as one of the top 300 cheeses in the world in its handbook.
Weve tried to standardize Kunik so it will be consistent every time, Flanagan said. We have the trademark on Kunik.
Up until recently, Flanagan and Lambiase did most of their deliveries themselves, taking several days each week to travel and deliver.
We drove 96,000 miles last year and had three accidents, Flanagan said. We just made a huge change by going with a distributor that will deliver our cheese up and down the East Coast. It frees us up to work on the farm.
She said that they would continue to personally deliver their cheese to the local farmers markets and other small customers.
We want to stay an artisan cheese that we make by hand in relatively small batches, Lambiase said. Our goats get organic feed and theyre very happy and healthy. Each goat is bottle fed and named at birth and are kept even after they no longer are productive.
We have a retirement community of goats here, and some rescue animals, Lambiase said. We even have a bachelor pad for the males when theyre no longer breeding.
The women own llamas as well, which are aggressive enough to scare off coyotes and other wildlife that could threaten the herd.
Nettle Meadow has eight different kinds of goats, with a total of 77, including their retired goats. They are allowed to inter-breed, and Flanagan said the hybrid goats tend to be heartier, a bonus here in the Adirondacks.
They continue to make improvements on the farm, and Flanagan said that their plan is to renovate a greenhouse into a barn for their adolescent goats, making room to add more to the herd.
I think we would be able to be comfortable with 200 or 250 goats, Flanagan said.
Nettle Meadow welcomes visitors to the farm for tours and porch sales of its cheese.
We just ask people not to show up before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. because thats milking time, Lambiase said. We love to see the kids with the goats, and teach them to love all animals.
Nettle Meadow Goat Farm is at 484 S. Johnsburg Road in Thurman. Call them at 623-3372 or email at cheese@nettlemeadow.com .

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