Farm Tour: Harley Farms

The time to visit Harley Farms, a goat dairy in Pescadero, is spring — not for the beauty (although the coast and the farm are particularly gorgeous in the springtime), but for the baby goats.

harley-babygoat

The farm’s herd of 200 ladies deliver their kids in the spring, typically starting in March and running through the first part of May. You can simply stop by the farm (as many people seem to do) to see some of the baby goats in their pens, but if you take one of the paid farm tours, as my sister and I did last Sunday, you’ll get to hold an adorable, week-old baby goat in your arms.

The two-hour, $20 tour isn’t only about baby goats, of course. Harley’s primary business is goat cheese and the whole process — from raising and milking the goats to making and selling the cheese — is all done right on the farm. The tour covers nearly every part of the process: it starts in the fields with the goats and ends in a 100-year-old hayloft eating cheese made from the goats’ milk.

harleygoat106

I loved being in the pasture with the adult goats and their llama protectors (the llamas have punny names, like Dalai and Lorenzo). I avoided the llamas because I have a strong aversion to llamas (or worse alpacas!), but the goats were unbelievably friendly, which the farm says is because they’ve been handled by people since they were born. They came right up to us for a pet or to happily rub their heads against our legs, and they followed us as we walked through the pasture. (I loved the caravan of goats in the picture below.)

harley-goatsinline
The baby goats are kept in separate pens based on their age (some were just days old!). One of the farm workers showed us how to support their legs when we held them. The babies seemed happy to be held, but they moved around so much I could hardly get a clear picture of them. (The one pictured above kept trying to eat my sister’s jacket).

Milking the goats used to be part of the farm’s tours, but it became too stressful for the goats. Now the tour simply goes through the milking parlor, where the goats are milked twice a day at 5am and 5pm. Each goat produces about a gallon of goat milk a day which is enough for about a pound of cheese, but currently some of the goat milk is going to feed the babies. The remaining milk is piped directly from the milking parlor into the commercial-grade cheese-making facility next door.

Harley’s goat cheeses are often decorated with edible flowers, which are grown right outside the cheese-making room. In the cheese-making room, we decorated a chevre with borage, calendula and johnny jump-up, and then headed up to the hayloft to taste our concoction along with the farm’s chive chevre and cranberry chevre.

harleyfarmsgarden

The farm store, which is right beneath the hayloft, sells additional cheeses, like goats milk ricotta, feta, and fromage blanc, as well as goats milk soaps and a variety of skincare products. But there’s no hard sell on the tour. Instead, the tour ends with a push for visitors to explore more of Pescadero. Our guide, who’d worked for the farm and the Pescadero school system for many years, suggested a few places to eat and things to do in the area.

On past trips to Pescadero, I’d never been wowed by Duarte’s pies or the town’s taqueria-in-a-gas-station, but I’d return to Harley Farms in a heartbeat — to see some goats, buy some cheese, and spend a little more time on this lovely piece of land.

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