Posts Tagged ‘Farm’
Redwood Hill Farm has been a family farm for over 45 years. It began in 1968 when our parents, Cynthia and Kenneth Bice (with then seven kids), moved from Los Angeles to Sonoma County and bought their very first goat named “Flopsy”. As a family and later under the leadership of oldest sister, Jennifer Bice, we have been making our cultured yogurt, kefir and artisan cheese for our goat milk loving customers since the early 1970’s. We invite you on a journey to follow our fresh goat milk as it travels from our Certified Humane® goat farm in Sebastopol, CA, to your neighborhood store.
The journey starts at dawn…
Scott Bice guides the Redwood Hill Farm herd head into the milking parlor where it all begins. Dairy goats are milked twice a day, at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. An average milking goat will give 2,000 lbs. of milk in a year. Our top performing dairy goats, which are nationwide leaders in milk production, may give up to two tons of milk annually!
Our dairy does look forward to milking time. They are very social animals, and Farm Manager Scott Bice not only knows them by name but also is also quite aware of their different personalities. Aside from getting a pat from the herdsman, milking time is when the does enjoy their custom milled, protein-rich grain mix, which makes up about 25% of their diet; the remaining 75% consists of fresh forages, brush and hay.
We raise four different breeds of dairy goats on our farm, who in turn give us the best-tasting milk for our probiotic yogurt, kefir and artisan cheeses. Pictured here are Saanen dairy goats, a breed that originated in Switzerland. Compared to cow milk, goat milk contains higher levels of calcium, vitamin A, potassium and niacin.
Milking machines transport the fresh, raw goat milk through filters into our milk parlor’s holding tank, where it is immediately chilled and held at 38 to 40 degrees. Notice the “cream clouds” at the top. Goat milk, unlike cow milk, is “naturally homogenized,” which means that most of the fat globules are evenly dispersed throughout the milk.
Delivering the farm-fresh, raw goat milk to our creamery
Throughout the week, our fresh milk is transported to Redwood Hill Farm Creamery, located only four miles from the farm. Here, family member David Bice fills milk into the tanker for another load.
Enjoying the rural countryside of beautiful West Sonoma County is a perk for employees doing this farm chore.
In the receiving bay at our creamery, Alfredo Monter-Jacinto takes samples of the milk for quality testing. Because we make quite a bit of yogurt, kefir and cheese, we also receive milk from six additional Certified Humane® goat dairy farms.
Our passion: making specialty goat milk yogurt, kefir and cheese
In addition to yogurt and kefir, we make an assortment of handmade, artisan cheeses. We use raw goat milk to make Redwood Hill Farm’s gold medal-winning Raw Goat Milk Feta. Here, Owner and Cheesemaker, Jennifer Lynn Bice, and her cheese team stir the curds. Feta curds are then packed by hand into molds, brined in a natural sea salt solution, and aged from six months to a year—just as traditional feta has been made for centuries.
Depending on the style of cheese, our 3 to 5 ounce artisan rind-ripened or ‘soft-ripened’ cheeses are aged for about 14 days in cave-like, temperature- and humidity-controlled aging rooms. At just the right age, slightly before ripeness and flavor reach their optimum, the cheeses are wrapped and packed by hand and then sold to stores up and down the West Coast. By the time the cheese has made its journey and has reached our customers, the flavor should be fully developed.
By law in the United states, milk to make yogurt and kefir must be pasteurized, but there are different methods. We use the vat-pasteurization method, the gentlest for retaining a higher percentage of the milk’s natural enzymes. After pasteurization, specific cultures are added to the goat milk depending on whether we are making yogurt or kefir and depending on our production schedule for that day.
After the yogurt or kefir containers are filled with the warm cultured milk and sealed, they are stacked and delivered to our creamery’s hot room for fermentation. At this stage the liquid milk thickens or “sets” as the beneficial bacteria cultures rapidly multiply.
After 4-6 hours, and at just the right pH level, the yogurt or kefir is moved into the chilling room. This important step holds the pH at just the right level and stabilizes the delicate texture.
Our carefully packed cheese, yogurt or kefir is picked up by our distributors and delivered to natural and specialty food stores, cooperatives, as well as many natural food sections of conventional grocery stores in your area.
Everything we make is crafted with 100% Grade A whole goat milk. Fresh milk is the key to making the best-tasting goat milk yogurt, kefir and cheese. Thank you for joining us on our milk’s journey from our farm to your fridge!
We’ve set our annual Farm Tour dates and hope to see you
Mark your calendars and please join us this year as we celebrate life on our goat farm. Our dates have been set, and we hope you will be able to join us in beautiful west Sonoma County, a truly magical place in springtime.
Jennifer will be honored at the 42nd Annual Ag-BBQ
We’re so happy to share that the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce recently announced Redwood Hill Farm owner and CEO Jennifer Bice will receive the Leadership in Agriculture award at this year’s Agri-Business BBQ on July 29th! The 42nd Annual Agri-Business BBQ honoring the diverse and pivotal role of the agriculture community in shaping the quality of life here in Sonoma County, will take place at Shone Farm, Santa Rosa Junior College’s 365-acre outdoor learning laboratory. Select HERE for more details on the awards event in July.
In 1978, Jennifer Lynn Bice assumed ownership of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Inc., the family farm and Grade A goat dairy the Bice family started in Sonoma County in 1968, and never looked back. Along with her late husband, Steven Schack, Jennifer expanded the business to produce a greater variety of goat milk products, and diversified the dairy goat-breeding program.
Today Redwood Hill Farm is owned and operated by Jennifer, along with five of her siblings that worked to establish Redwood Hill Farm in the 1960’s. In addition, more than 50 dedicated employees now run the day-to-day operations at the Certified Humane® farm and state-of-the-art organic creamery in Sebastopol. Promoting the benefits of goat milk products and developing a genetics program of excellence for the Redwood Hill Farm herd remain her top priorities, and this commitment has positioned Redwood Hill Farm at the forefront of the dairy goat industry.
2014 Spring Farm Tour: lots of happy memories…
The first weekend of our annual Farm Tours are behind me with a head full of happy moments shared with family, employees and a farm full of new friends. We’re all on our second cups of coffee this morning as we laugh and share stories of a great weekend!
Redwood Hill Farm customers from near and far drove up beautiful Thomas Road in Sebastopol to arrive at the farm, park in the olive and apple orchard and walk Apple Blossom Lane to enjoy a taste of farm living.
Enjoy this fine interview featuring Redwood Hill Farm owner and Cheese Maker Jennifer Lynn Bice by GOURMET BUSINESS FINE CHEESE & CHARCUTERIE Managing Editor James Mellgren which appears in his “Shop Talk Column” this month. Click here to read!
At Redwood Hill Farm we’re reducers, reusers, recyclers… and composters!
With a bit of time, kitchen scraps, plant clippings, and straw & hay from the barns turns into what we love to call “black gold”! It’s part of our ongoing commitment to the environment of our community, and our constant striving to be as “green” as we possibly can.
This commitment has enabled us to recently receive certification and recognition as a Sonoma County Green Business, and the news on our Green Business Certification was the lead news item in The Press Democrat’s Agriculture Briefs , Sunday December 15.
The Sonoma Green Business Program (www.sonoma-county.org/sonomagreen) is a partnership of government agencies and utilities that assists, recognizes, and promotes local organizations, focusing on small to medium-sized consumer-oriented businesses who voluntarily operate in environmentally responsible ways. Certified participants must be in compliance with all environmental regulations and meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste. Select here to download more about our new certification.
As part of a fundraising event recently for The Ceres Project, we hosted a “Mystery Tour” of 25 people who crawled the back roads of Sonoma County to learn, taste, and enjoy some baby goat love at Redwood Hill Farm! Thanks to Lorelei for the lovely blog post and pictures from a simply wonderful afternoon for all.
We are honored to donate probiotic kefir and yogurt to the meals program each week applaud founder Cathryn Couch, founder, for caring so deeply about local community.
Note: this blog post ran for the first time last fall. The farm was so beautiful, and this pumpkin pie recipe is so special, I’m sharing again for this Thanksgiving. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with you and yours.
Thanksgiving is upon us…
and right on cue are blustery days, intense fall colors, and a sprinkling of rain showers to green up the fields on the farm. Recently on an extraordinarily fine day, I spent the afternoon with Jennifer and we made pie. Jennifer and I share a passion for cooking, along with Scott, David, Shelley and a few other siblings! As a large family growing up together on Redwood Hill Farm, cooking with fresh goat milk and seasonal produce from the garden each year became a natural part of our life. Now, some 45 years later, we all have favorite recipes when it comes to gathering for holiday meals and this pie is very special.
How we control the flies on our organic farm including complete plans for “Mother Nature’s Fly Trap”
We are totally committed to protecting our environment and the health/safety of our employees and goats. Therefore, we have a policy of zero tolerance for synthetic chemical pesticides. Cleanliness and sanitation are the first line of defense against such pests as common flies. Their larvae need a moist, nitrogen rich area in which to incubate and hatch. In so far as possible, such habitats are minimized in our management. However, certain areas are always problematic on a working farm, such as around and underneath platforms supporting water tanks. Insect predators are routinely distributed to such areas to feed on the fly larvae.