Dancing Goats makes some great cheese
On a brilliant summer day in Newbury, Erin Bligh’s goats are literally dancing down a grassy slope to check out a visitor. With their big eyes, soft coats, and long, floppy ears, these Nubian and Oberhasli goats provide the milk for Dancing Goats Dairy’s delicious and very fresh cheeses (Motto: “Made by Hooves — Crafted by Hand”). Bligh’s cheeses range from fresh whipped chevre to aged cheeses studded with peppercorns and herbs. Many of the aged cheeses are named for strong women — such as the Ruth Bader Ginsburg cow and goat cheddar with peppercorns and Josephine Baker goat sardo, and are aged 5 to 9 months. Whipped chevre varieties such as Everything Bagel, Fig, and Sea Salt are sold within days of production.
The 45 goats and 30 kids have space to roam and a comfy barn. Bligh, 29, who knows each by name and number, started the dairy in 2012, selling some goat milk and making soap, and then ramped up the herd and began cheese making in 2014. Now during milking season from March to December, 32 does are milked twice a day. Cheese making goes on every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in a spotless room next to the field. The cheese can be purchased at the dairy from a cash-
only honor box, at several farm stores, and at the Marblehead, Newburyport, and Cape Ann farmers’ markets.
Bligh, who is helped in the dairy by her brother, two apprentices, and a volunteer, did not plan to be a cheese maker, majoring in French literature and political science. But she fell in love with French cheeses during a term abroad in France. She apprenticed at Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlett, Vt. “My mom dropped me off in a snowstorm, expecting that I would call in a few days, begging to come home.” Instead she loved wading through snow to feed goats and learning cheese making with its long hours and constant need for washing up to keep the process sanitary. Although she’s experimenting with using some cows’ milk from a local dairy in some cheeses and with developing new cheese recipes, she’s content to stay small, handcrafting her cheeses and tending her goats. “They’re very personable,” Bligh says. “A whole herd of charmers.”
Some locations selling Dancing Goats Dairy cheeses: Dancing Goats Dairy, 41R Parker St. Newbury (farm visits and tours by appointment, 978-255-3218); Newburyport, Cape Ann, Marblehead farmers’ markets; and Tendercrop Farm Store, 108 High Road, Newbury.