Artisan Cheese in Red Rock Country
Mesa Farm Market and the hardscrabble adventure in terroir and tenacity
The baby goats are stealing the show.
We’re at Torrey's Mesa Farm Market on a crisp mid-April morning and supposed to be learning about small-batch artisan goat cheese production with farm proprietor and legendary cheese maker Randy Ramsley.
Known affectionately as “the little purple store on Highway 24,” Mesa Farm is a 50-acre slice of bucolic wonder nestled in Utah’s red rock country at milepost number 102, heading east from Capitol Reef National Park. Led by Matt Caputo, Certified Cheese Professional (that’d be the equivalent of a cheese sommelier), our motley group of about twenty Utah chefs and artisan food lovers visited the farm to learn more about Ramsley’s unique farmstead and his variety of goat milk alpine-style cheeses.
But they’re having trouble getting us to leave the goat barn.
We’re absolutely smitten. Watching dozens of Nubian, Alpine and LaMancha baby goats adorably head-butting, jumping in circles and generally wooing the socks off of anyone who will give them the slightest bit of attention. It’s pretty dang cute.
Even after two decades working the farm, Ramsley agrees the kids can be delightfully distracting. “Watching goats just makes people happy,” he told me with a grin. “They’re really wonderful and adaptable animals.”
But there’s not much time spent goat-gazing for Ramsley. To say that spring is a busy time at Mesa Farm pushes the boundaries of understatement to the extreme. Even with two interns (he’ll have up to seven during peak summer production) who recently joined him to help with birthing and milking the goats, tending the inevitable handful of orphan kids who need round-the-clock care, assisting with cheese making and taking care of vegetable and fruit production for the farm’s seasonal roadside market and counter service restaurant, Ramsley’s days are full to the brim with activity.