When someone says the word “dairy,” Teller County does not come to mind. That might be so but there is one state-licensed dairy in the county, Stone Creek Farmstead north of Divide.
The farmstead, owned by Bob and Diane McMillan, is the state's smallest licensed dairy farm and it has the smallest licensed pasteurizing unit on the market.
“It is illegal to sell cheeses made from unpasteurized milk in the United States,” Diane McMillan said.
Bob McMillan said the farmstead has 11 goats.
“We milk seven goats each day,” he said. “That makes us the state's smallest commercial dairy by a really wide margin. Each day, the goats provide about 8 gallons of milk at a milking and we produce about 60 pounds of goat cheese and other products each week.”
The farmstead is a true farm. Coming from Minnesota, as soon as they arrived in alpine Colorado the McMillans started looking at crops and animals that would thrive at 9,100 feet.
They learned that in the late 1890s and early 1900s the Divide area was known for its commercial potato farms, so now they grow potatoes. Because of an abundance of wildflowers they added bee keeping. Then they asked themselves what kind of a farm it would be without chickens so they added Silver Laced Wyandottes, which Bob McMillan said is adapted to high elevations. Finally, they added a small goat herd.
“We have two kinds of goats, Nubians and Swiss Oberhaslis,” Bob McMillan said. “Combining their milks makes the best cheese.”
He added that part of the farmstead's mission is education.
“Goats have had a lot of bad press over the last few thousands of years,” he said. “We're trying to dispel those notions. Goats are wonderful, gentle creatures. They're comical animals.”
The goats were recently on “maternity leave” for a few months and milking has just started up again for the summer season.
The cheeses made in the Farmstead's commercial kitchen include Chevre, Crottin, Bloomy Bleu, classic and applewood smoked Gouda, Cabra el Vino and Camembert. These cheeses are sold onsite but also at the Woodland Park Farmers Market during the summer and at the Mountain Naturals Store, also in Woodland Park. The website, www.stonecreekfarmstead.com, states that some of the goat cheeses are also featured in recipes at The Warehouse Restaurant in Colorado Springs.
Besides making and selling goats-milk products, the farmstead also offers classes in cheese making, bread making and soap making. Check out the website for more information.