This summer semester one of my school assignments was to visit a local farm. Homestead Farms is a quaint farm located in Keller, TX at 4160 Keller-Hicks Road. If you blink, you will miss the driveway tucked in the middle of the urban development of Keller. The website indicates they sell fresh produce and raw goat’s milk. However, I soon learned that they additionally sell fresh meats, eggs and fresh cow’s milk products. When I pulled up, I was surprised at the number of patrons in the store.
The farm started about 6 years ago but the land has been in the Farris family since 1889. It is a true family farm. There are three families living on the farm who keep an eye on everything. Sarah runs the retail store and Michael runs the dairy and farm. The location is great for drop-in customers and invites Agro-tourism to teach people about agriculture. Many people today have lost touch with how real food is grown.
Homestead Farms caters to people changing their diet to more natural or locally grown, health food enthusiasts, moms and people who want fresh, wholesome foods for better health. Parents buy for children and infants. Since goat’s milk (or cow’s milk) alone cannot meet an infant’s nutritional needs, you have to both dilute and supplement goat’s milk with the missing nutrients. For parents interested in using goat’s milk, a registered dietitian can help ensure that nutrient needs are met. Additionally, it is important to remember that the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend consumption of unpasteurized milk of any kind especially by vulnerable populations such as infants, children, elderly or immuno-compromised individuals.
Sarah informs me they have never had an illness result from their milk. They milk about 40 goats twice each day taking about 3 hours each time they’re milked. Good sanitation practices keep the milk clean as it is taken directly from the goats without ever touching human hands. Then, the milk is instantly cooled and stored in milk tank for aseptic bottling. They sell out of fresh milk every day. They have a raw to retail permit but customers must purchase their milk at Homestead Farms per Texas State laws. Additionally, the farm undergoes inspection monthly by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Sarah states that goat’s milk is very mild flavored. 80% of their diet is grass and some grain with added vitamins and minerals. She goes on to say that the lactose in raw goat’s milk is better tolerated and natural enzymes assist with digestion. Having heard Sarah’s declarations regarding all of the benefits of drinking goat’s milk, a quick review of the literature yielded little unbiased medical research to provide evidence to support these claims. Research should be pursued to substantiate the many anecdotal experiences about the medical benefits from goat milk consumption, which abound in trade publications and the popular press. This could be a good topic for future research!
The goats are Nubian goats from Africa…they make higher fat and protein milk like Jersey Cows. They also have beef cattle that are grass fed up in Montague County. The farm strives very hard to feed the animals what is naturally eaten. The pigs are raised on premise, purchased at a few hundred pounds and slaughtered at around 1,000 pounds.
In their produce, no pesticides are used…they are not certified organic but grow to organic standards. They embrace the “circle of life” concept to keep a sustainable farm by reusing and repurposing between plants and animals. Goats, pigs and chickens eat garden waste and animal waste can be used to fertilize crops.
While I was there, I did taste the raw goat’s milk. It was really light and fresh with a small goat cheese flavored aftertaste and was fantastic! The farm makes a great field trip for schools, a unique venue for birthday parties and an ideal way to reconnect people with how food is produced.