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Our Goat Milk’s Journey, from farm to you.

Written by Sharon Bice on . Posted in Life on the Farm

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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…

Our milking does headed into the parlor

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!

Redwood Hill Farm Manager Scott Bice with a Saanen milk doe.

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.

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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

David Bice filling the milk tanker

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.

Our milk tanker on the road

Enjoying the rural countryside of beautiful West Sonoma County is a perk for employees doing this farm chore.

Taking a milk sample in the receiving bay at Redwood Hill Farm

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

Redwood Hill Farm owner and cheesemaker stirring feta curds

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.

Redwood Hill Farm California Crottin

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.

Adding cultures to our pasteruized goat milk to make yogurt.

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.

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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.

Delivering freshly packed yogurt quarts to our creamery hot room for culturing.

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.

Distributor truck picking up Redwood Hill Farm yogurt and kefir

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.

Our goat milk yogurt and kefir is available nationwide at coops and natural, specialty food markets.

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!

A Joyful Spring Farm Tour at Redwood Hill Farm

Written by Sharon Bice on . Posted in Life on the Farm

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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.

Redwood Hill Farm Featured on HGTV Gardens

Written by Redwood Hill on . Posted in In the News

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Buy Local: An Array of Farm Products Are Just a Click Away

From goat milk caramels to herb-infused soap, find out about America’s homespun harvest.

“It’s a locavore age, with many consumers deeply invested in the source and story behind everything from their face cream to their goat’s milk gouda. As food trends shift back to the land, farm-fresh products are gaining more traction. Family-owned farms offer a remedy to faceless corporations, and offer products crafted with consideration and care. From the old-world Italian “pork butter” (aka spallacia) created at Iowa’s La Quercia to the natural beauty products concocted by high-end Rhode Island apothecary Farmaesthetics, it’s a good time to celebrate the homegrown goodness offered up at farms across the country.”

Read the entire article at HGTV Gardens

Sonoma County Food and Farming Project

Written by Redwood Hill on . Posted in Company News

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“I can’t think of a more quintessential Sonoma County farm family than the lovely folks at Redwood Hill Creamery.  Jennifer Bice has lead the way for the sweet and natural growth of what her parents started 45 years ago.  She has gathered some of her family around her, repurposed legendary facilities, gently moved beyond their core work of making some delicious goats milk foods and is living an exemplary existence in our magical region.  They have been our largest sponsors of this Sonoma County Food and Farming Project, for which we are most grateful, but we’d have wanted to tell their story even if they hadn’t made this entire video story series possible.” ~ Clark Wolf

The Sonoma County Food and Farming Project (SCFFP), under the umbrella of Ag Innovations Network, seeks to increase of and encourage participation in small-scale food and farming projects in Sonoma County. Click here and enjoy the project’s video of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery