About Our Dairy
After years of planning, months of demanding work, and untold sums of cold
hard cash, our sparkling new dairy facilities were finally certified by the State of
Arizona Department of Agriculture in early August of 2003. At that time we
only certified dairy in the state specializing in fine farmstead artisan goat
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Our Commitment to Sustainability
We have long prided ourselves on following sustainable agriculture principles
and in being conscientious stewards of our land. We now extend that
commitment to our dairy operations here as well.
Black Mesa Ranch is “off-grid”, generating all it’s own electricity,
primarily from solar and wind sources (click here to jump to our
Alternative Energy Pages). We use no
chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides in any of our agricultural
activities. We never, ever use those nasty hormones on any of our animals
to increase productivity, aid in milking, or synchronize breedings as is
commonly done in many modern dairy operations.
We do a great deal with holistic and natural herd management techniques.
The use of pharmaceutical meds and antibiotics for the herd here is strictly
limited to individual instances of life-saving measures under the direction and
supervision of our herd's veterinarian and the State Department of Agriculture.
Any animal so treated (and this is a very rare event) is immediately pulled from
the milking line and kept off it for at least the minimum recommended withdrawal
period - and usually much longer.
It's all about the Milk...
Black Mesa Ranch’s cheeses are made exclusively from the milk of our own
small, registered, Nubian goat herd. Nubians were chosen by Black Mesa Ranch as
a breed of goats especially suitable for Arizona’s climate and for
cheese-making. Of African origin, Nubians are well adapted to the hot summer
temperatures we can get here. They are also know as the “Jerseys of the goat
world”, a reference to the high ratios of butterfat and milk solids found in
their milk (qualities important for making superbly rich cheeses) by comparison
to the Swiss dairy breeds.
In keeping with our philosophies of sustainability, our herd browses
free-range across the Ranch property in the Hay Hollow Valley, or up the rocky
slopes of Black Mesa all day long. This rich, varied, natural diet provides the
dairy with milk of special merit. David, a highly trained and experienced
professional chef, now also the cheese maker for the dairy, describes the milk
as having “distinctive local qualities, ideal for turning into unique cheeses”.
These characteristics, often referred to as “terroir” (a French word which means
roughly “of the earth”) are key in providing the lush flavor tones found in all
Black Mesa Ranch cheeses.
True Farmstead Artisan Cheeses
In wine making the term "Estate Bottled" indicates that that particular wine
was made from grapes grown on the property and that the grapes were then
harvested, processed, crushed, fermented into wine and then bottled all on
the same property, or "estate".
In cheesemaking, we use the term "Farmstead" to describe much the same thing
(albeit with slightly less pretense!).
At Black Mesa Ranch, every drop of milk we use in our cheesemaking comes from
our own small herd of exceptionally happy, healthy, free-range goats. In
fact, we could go a step further and mention that nearly every one of those does
was born, bottle fed, raised and reared right here on the ranch as well.
The milk "the girls" provide us with is gently and patiently coaxed into cheese
just a few feet from where it was given, aged in our little climate controlled
"cave" right around the corner from the cheese kitchen then packaged for sale
all in the same building.
Around the ranch we describe our all-under-one-roof cheese philosophy
as "from kidding through curding - and beyond"
A Note On Quality
Our cheeses are all hand made in very small batches – we never work on more
than 15 gallons of milk at a time which allows us to pay close attention to
every little detail of process. We use only the freshest milk, finest imported
cultures, and purest salt to make our cheeses. We also use only microbial
(non-animal) rennet so our products are appropriate for
many vegetarian diets.
Black Mesa Ranch artisan farmstead cheeses are true treasures of Arizona’s
White Mountains Region. Lovingly produced, each of our cheeses is gently
hand-crafted, carefully aged and proudly offered for sale in very limited
Please try our cheeses today.
Use this link to go to our Artisan Cheeses
Products and Prices Page.
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