The Goats of Hope Springs

Brooks Miller doesn’t get his milk at the store. He gets it from his goats, once a day.

“We started by milking twice a day, and we had a huge excess of milk,” he said. “Milking once is a real change in our day-to-day activity, because when we’re out with friends we don’t have to say, ‘Oh, we gotta go home and milk the goats now.'”

The goats and the milk came about a few years ago when Brooks and his wife, Anna, answered an ad while she was working at Rodale, the health and wellness publisher in Emmaus.

The ad sought managers for Hope Springs Farm, a 17-acre spread north of Hershey that serves as work therapy for disabled adults.

“Anna was kind of obsessed with the Amish for a long time,” Miller said. “Her dream was to live on a farm, to have dogs, goats, bunnies and a horse, and to live a good life. We have everything but the horse.”

Everything includes six goats, two of them dairy.

The Millers got help early from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, which led them to people who have managed goats for a long time.

Today they have milk to drink and to make cheese and kefir, a fermented milk drink.

Miller said making kefir is a lot easier than making beer, which he does during the day at Troegs Brewing Co.

His boss, John Trogner, started the Millers on cheesemaking with a handmade wedding present, a stainless steel cheese press. Now they make chevre, feta, queso blanco (farmer’s cheese) and munster.

“Our biggest resource is pasture land,” Miller said. “We have 17 acres, and our goats and our sheep are on pasture pretty much 100 percent of the time.”

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