Happy International Women's Day! To celebrate the holiday, we wanted to spotlight some of our female herd crew members who are working around the clock this kidding season ensuring our herd of LaMancha dairy goats have successful births.
We asked them a few questions about what it truly means to work at the Stepladder farm and here's what they had to say:
"It's incredible that the herd team is predominantly run by women. It's inspiring to see that women can birth babies then switch to using heavy machinery and aren't afraid to get a little dirty! I am so proud of this group and hope we can inspire other young women to pursue a similar type of career path." - Michelle, Stepladder Creamery owner and dairy goat extraordinaire (pictured below)
"There are so many things I love about working at Stepladder, it's hard to pick just one. I suppose it really comes down to my love of the dynamic workflow. No two days are ever the same and the changing seasons bring an entirely new set of projects and challenges. Oh, and did I mention I absolutely adore the goaties?! If you've ever wondered if the goats are as cute and charming as they seem in photos and videos we post on social, the answer is no - they are way cuter and more charming, and surprisingly more intelligent than you can imagine! From the avocados and cheese to the fruit and goats, Stepladder is a very special place." - Whitney, assistant herd manager (pictured below)
"I feel so grateful to be working with a group of such powerful, strong and wonderful women; Michelle, Sophie and Whitney. They are open to suggestions and working together, and I so value when everyone's voices and opinions matter. Working with the goats is so much fun. They are spunky, loving (sometimes), rambunctious, embrace weirdness (especially Hazel), and an antidote to our individualistic culture that they have a herd mindset. I love it here!" - Shanti, dairy goat assistant and farm hand (pictured below)
Working on a farm isn’t always glamorous. It’s hard work, smelly at times and can be both physically and mentally exhausting. From milking the goats in the milking parlor to mucking their pen, below are a handful more photos to get a glimpse into the daily work on a Stepladder herd team member.
Pictured above, our newest dairy goat crew member, Alyssa, is shaving a goats utter and prepping her to begin milking.
After the goats are milked, their milk makes its way into a large storage vat inside the creamery. The milk is then sent through a rigorous sterilization process before its used in the remaining cheese making process for our goat's milk and blended milk cheeses. These cheeses include our seasonal fresh goat's milk Chèvre, blended milk Cabrillo and aged Rocky Butte. Pictured above, Michelle, is inspecting all the milking parlor and storage room tools and equipment during the milking off season to ensure things are up to code. After kidding season, the does will return to twice a day milkings so the milking parlor will be busy, busy on a daily basis!
Hay isn't just for horses! Hahah! We get ongoing deliveries of hay for our very spoiled dairy goat princesses. Hay is what we use for bedding in the herd's main pen/sleeping area. They love to create little nooks for sleeping and afternoon naps in the shade. Pictured above, Shanti is using the farm's tractor to scoop out used hay from the pen and replace with new, fresh bedding.
The end of February - late April is our annual kidding season. During this time, our herd of pregnant goats go into labor. Pictured above, Sophie is helping a goat deliver her babies (aka kids). We set up a special covered area with multiple birthing pens so each goat has her own separate area to give birth. We have staff on site 24-hours a day during kidding season to ensure all kids are delivered safely and our mamas remaining healthy too. This is a very special time of year, but also is very demanding and taxing on our team. We wouldn't change it for the world!