September 29, 2010
When I arrived at Noble-Springs Farm, the goats were escaping. I saw one of them peak their head out from around the side of the barn and in a matter of seconds, this goat, the obvious ringleader of the bunch, along with about 20 others, took off running. But being goats, they didn’t get very far. About 30 yards into their escape they found themselves distracted by the enticing row of hydrangea bushes and pear trees, which they proceeded to devour in about a minute flat.
These goats, however, as mischievous as they are, produce some of best milk around, rich in vitamins and butterfat and perfect for making high quality, artisan cheese. If you’ve not yet tasted Noble-Springs goat cheese, you are missing out on a culinary treasure. Dustin and Justyne Noble, the owners of these furry escape-artists, make over a dozen flavors of Chevre such as Cherry Berry, with its delicate sweet and sour tang, Garlic Dill, its sharp kick mellowed by the earthiness of dill, not to mention all the flavors in between like Peppercorn, Sun-dried Tomato Basil and Pimento. They also make two types of Feta, as well as a Southall Valley Gouda. And the benefit of buying their cheese at the farmers market is that there, it is as fresh as can be, having been made only a day or two earlier. You can’t get much fresher than that.
Dustin has wanted to do something like this for a long time, ever since he was a kid growing up in Brentwood. His parents had about 10 acres and since Dustin and his brother were both allergic to cows milk, the family got a couple of goats that they used for fresh milk. An interesting side note about these childhood goats, Johnny Cash quite possibly once owned them. Justyne grew up in Kansas and has been showing goats competitively around the country for most of her life. In fact, it was at one of these competions in Iowa where she and Dustin first met in 2003.
Last year was one of those years where everything came together in a sort of serendipitous way and now, seven years after they first met, they find themselves newly married living on 230 acres out in Franklin where they raise 85 goats with 85 distinct personalities, two farm dogs, three horses, 12 chickens and two miniature rat terriers that despite their size, like to pretend they’re in charge. They have a full plate with the twice daily feeding and milking, the cheese production part of the business that supplies numerous grocery stores in the area as well as a dozen restaurants such as Holland House and Eastland Café, not to mention the breeding side of things and the resulting kids that they bottle feed for their first 10 weeks, something I must admit that I, along with every 3 year old, would love to see.
It definitely takes a unique type of teamwork to raise that many animals and while I can’t fathom the amount of work required to keep it all going, the two of them together make it look effortless. They are like a well-oiled machine but with plenty of room for flexibility, a key ingredient when you have girls in heat flirting at the fence line, boys literally fighting each other over the girls and then the rest of the group hanging on the perimeter hoping you’ll be distracted long enough so they can escape out the back way.