Meet the Maker: Baetje Farms
In this day and age it’s hard to imagine one trading in technology, internet signal, and modern amenities for a slower pace; but two? Maybe. It turns out that baby goats make good company.
Steve and Veronica Baetje are childhood sweethearts and founders of Baetje Farms in Boomsdale, Missouri. Together they produce internationally-known French-inspired artisan goat cheeses that wind up in America’s best specialty cheese shops. Last November their story–filled with farming, prayer and hard work–was featured in The New York Times.
The couple spent seven years living in a rural Mennonite community, virtually off the grid, in southern Illinois; and Veronica purchased her first goat there back in 1998. She talked librarians into ordering books on cheese-making and learned how to carefully nurture the breed. Next thing you know, one cuddly farm animal turned into 40. Today the couple tends to a herd of 75 beloved milking goats. Steve is often up by 3 a.m. to milk them.
Take a ride through the Missouri countryside with Veronica in her old Porsche Boxster, and she’ll show you everything her majestic pocket of the world offers: valleys, streams, springs and fields. Veronica and Steve’s farm is located in the Forche du Clos Valley on some of the last bits of cropland adjacent to the vast Mark Twain National Forest.
The dairy goats roam wherever they please. They receive an unlimited supply of filtered spring water to drink from a spring-fed well at the farm, and their diet is supplemented with organic herbal teas, (which they love warm, especially in the cold of winter) as well as all natural grains and hay.
Many of the cheeses they produce are classified as “Pure Artisan Farmstead” goat cheeses. The term “farmstead” signifies cheese made solely with milk from the cheese maker’s own animals. “Artisan” is a skilled manual worker or craftsman…So, in essence they produce cheeses in an old world European style. Methods utilized by the Baetjes have been practiced for thousands of years; long before the family farm was turned into an industrial factory, as is and has been the current trend of farming in the United States for quite some time.
Ask cheese legends what they think of Veronica and you’ll here things like: “Her cheese is just in a different league” and “…very, very special.” Come visit us for a taste of her heartfelt creations, such as:
- Amoureaux, a semi-hard washed rind cheese with an ash layer running through the middle
- Coeur du Clos, a camembert-style cheese made from a blend of goat and sheep milk
- Fleur de la Vallee, a semi-soft, velvety smooth washed rind cheese and the winner of several awards including: American Cheese Society 1st in 2011 and 2nd in 2010. World Cheese Awards bronze in 201
- Miette, a bloomy rind cheese made made from a blend of goat and sheep milk