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Achievements and Milestones:
Black Mesa Ranch is Certified Humane®
in independent USDA accredited program
8/21/06 Following the completion of an extensive application process and series of rigorous on-site inspections, Black Mesa Ranch is proud to announce that we have recently been "Certified Humane Raised and Handled". Black Mesa Ranch is the first and only producer in Arizona to have earned this certification. Certified Humane Raised and Handled is a USDA accredited consumer labeling program intended to assure customers that products are being produced with the welfare of the animals in mind. Click here for more information on the Certified Humane program.
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 were the only certified dairy in the state specializing in fine farmstead artisan goat cheeses.
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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" sm.
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 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 quantities.
Please try our cheeses today.
Use this link to go to our Artisan Cheeses Products and Prices Page.
To see use building our dairy, click here.