Melissa and Peter Martin have been raising goats and growing their own food for over 26 years, ever since they discovered that one of their 4 children couldn’t digest cow’s milk. A neighbor gave them some of her goat’s milk, their daughter drank it successfully and that was the beginning of a new life for the family. They immediately bought their first goat.
Now the children are all in their 20’s (23, 25, 27 and 29, to be exact) and Melissa and Peter have downsized from a larger farm in upstate New York to their 6 acre farm in western Massachusetts. Sheffield is in “The Berkshires,” where tourists and vacationers have been coming for over 100 years to pay homage to the beautiful mountains and lakes. Dandelion Hill Farm is nestled off the beaten path amidst a moist, verdant “jungle” of vegetation.
They are currently raising Kikos, Nubians, chickens and bees. The Kikos are mainly raised for meat and the Nubians for milk.
The Martins are currently milking 3, but, by next year, they will be milking 8. They receive about 1 gallon of milk per goat each day.
They sell herdshares, which enable people to actually buy the goats and board them at the farm. Part of the boarding agreement includes milking the goats. To ensure that they are conforming to Massachusetts laws, they had a contract for this drawn up by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
Kikos are a breed from New Zealand, primarily raised for meat. The Martins sell their goat’s meat in their farm store and at the Sheffield Farmer’s Market.
In their 26 years of raising goats, the Martins have learned a few things – they use moveable fences (portable electronets) around their Kikos. This enables the goats to clear one field and move to another.
The hives are on the edge of the property and the bees range for up to 3 miles. Their honey is sweet with floral notes.
The eggs are fertilized by their rooster and the chickens are all free-range.
Melissa makes chevre for her family, but her goal is to sell it. She told us the high butterfat of the Nubian milk gives the cheese it’s creamy, delicious flavor. The Martins are working hard to get their license to sell chevre, yogurt and hard cheeses in 2017.
They are building a new milking parlor and milk room in front of the current milking parlor. They are using lumber from their own land.
Both Melissa and Peter make a living from working outside the farm. Melissa is a massage therapist at Kripalu (a health and yoga retreat in Stockbridge, MA) and Peter is a carpenter.
Dandelion Hill Farm
204 Hulett Hill Road
Sheffield, MA 01257