The Smits Family in Williamsburg, Ohio

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Laura and Dirk Smits with their Colby cheese

Recently, one of our readers, Hope Hammons contacted us to “throw a name in the hat” as a possible candidate for one of our interviews.  She wrote,

I met the Smits family about 3 years ago when we bought two Nigerian Dwarf bottle-baby doelings from them. They had about 30 – 40 goats at that time which seemed like A LOT of goats to me. The farm was built by and is completely managed by the family (mom, dad, 3 daughters) and is currently operating as a Grade A Dairy. It is quite an impressive operation.

In the 3 years that I’ve known them, the doe herd has grown to 100 (+/-) does and consists of Nigerian Dwarfs, Mini Nubians and several dairy-bred sheep. They also maintain a selection of breeding bucks and rams. Several of the does have earned superior awards for milk production. They use the milk to make cheese (fresh and aged), yogurt, kefir, etc.

I know they have a great story and I think your readers would enjoy it! : )

We checked out their website (http://nigeriandwarfgoats.net/) and found it to be remarkably well organized and clear.  Every detail is spelled out regarding farm tours, goats, lambs and rabbits for sale, and their herd share program.

In addition, there is a LOT of information about how to raise goats, milk goats, and fence goats.  We highly recommend their Baby Goats Care page if you are thinking about buying your first goat.  It has everything you need to know.

Their story as told by Laura Smits

We are a growing Nigerian Dwarf Grade A dairy.  We have a herd of ADGA and AGS registered Nigerian Dwarf and MDGA registered Mini Nubians.

We went with the Nigerians because of their smaller size and excellent quality milk.  A lot of people do not like goat milk because of the “goaty” flavor.  Nigerians do not have a particular goat flavor.

We have had many people, who claim they don’t like milk or goat milk, say it tastes very good.

We experimented a little with the Mini Nubians and found their milk very similar to the Nigerians as they are a cross between a Nubian and Nigerian.

All our kids are bottle fed.  This is because we are a Grade A dairy and are only allowed a certain SCC (Somatic Cell Count).  If the does raise their kids, it causes it to be higher than we would like. Bottle feeding also makes for a friendly goat that is easy to handle.

When we have a tour come through, it’s always a big hit when they get to feed the kids. We usually have 30-50 goat kids during the spring and summer.  But any time of the year when someone stops by, there are always friendly kids there to greet them.

Our does kid year round (another advantage of the Nigerians) to provide our herd share customers with milk.

We have always farmed our married life. I grew up on a dairy farm. My husband was born in the Netherlands and also has dairying on his side.

We have three daughters and they know nothing else than loving and caring for animals. As they grew, we would always ask what they would like to do for a living. All three want to farm.

They are now 18, 17 and 15. Very special girls! They are very dedicated, caring, and hard workers! They run the farm by themselves. My husband and I help out with odd jobs, bookkeeping, etc.

Jenna, Elizabeth and Hannah

The Beginning…

We started with two goats, lol. Then, of course, babies came along. Our little girls would say, oh, can we keep this one?  So, that’s how we ended up with quite a few more.

We started making cheese in 2014. I was then getting overwhelmed with all the milk. We thought we could sell our cheese at a farmers market, but heard it’s illegal. My husband called the Ohio Department of Agriculture and asked, ‘Is the American dream still alive, or is it dead?’

An inspector came out and we became Grade B and he mentioned a cheesemaker in Cincinnati. We were relieved with being able to bring the excess milk to him.

In 2017, the cheesemaker relocated his facility and could not take the milk for 8 months. We could not handle making that much cheese every day and started looking for new outlets. That’s when we heard of herd share. And today, with herd share and the cheesemaker, we are doing very well. We are milking 44 Nigerian Dwarf and Mini Nubians.

So far this year, we have had 81 kids born, all sold and we still have a waiting list. We strive for quality not only in raising kids but with the milk.

We do herd share with some of the milk and also sell our participants cheese, yogurt, ice milk, etc. The remaining milk each week, we sell to a cheese maker. He sells it in Whole Foods, restaurants, farmers markets and off his website.

It is illegal to sell raw milk or milk products in Ohio. But through herd share this is possible.

We use mostly the recipes from New England Cheesemaking Supply. The instructions are great! We have tried some of the fresh cheeses, which have been a hit.

Best of all, we and our herd share customers like Colby. As soon as the Colby is aged, it is sold out shortly after.

Cheese presses

I vacuum pack the cheese and age it in a wine cooler.

Since this is the first year with making a profit, our big goal is to continue in this direction. Then if all goes well, we would like to get more land so we can hay it ourselves. We only have five acres and finding quality hay is frustrating. We then would have much more automation and a processing room, so we could sell milk and milk products directly to the public.

D & L Meadows

3706 Bass Road

Williamsburg, OH  45176

(513) 465 – 3259

We sell eggs, lambs (registered Finnsheep), rabbits (pedigreed American Chinchilla, VM Holland Lop and French Angora), sheep fiber, Angora rabbit fiber, and organically grown garden produce. We also provide goat care services ( hoof trimming, shaving, routine shots and deworming and so on) to local goat owners.

Most all sales are done at the farm. We just need to be contacted prior to coming. It’s not like we have a store….yet. ?

We have herd share openings. Right now we have 28 customers.

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