Got milk? Not anymore, say Yukon goat dairy farmers

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Got milk? Not anymore, say Yukon goat dairy farmers

Brian Lendrum is setting aside his milking stool, and closing the door on his cheese room.

The Whitehorse-area farmer has become well known among local foodies for his goat milk and cheese, but he's decided "enough is enough" — and he's not kidding.

The goat dairy "has kind of fulfilled the vision I had years and years ago," he said.

"In a way, I feel like I accomplished what I set out to accomplish in that one area, and so I think it's time to shut 'er down before we get too old."

Lendrum started keeping goats decades ago, when he and his partner Susan Ross realized the green and "rocky, rolling terrain" of their Lake Laberge farm would be ideal for some roaming ruminants.

"All of these things just really suggested goats to us," he recalled.

The dairy followed naturally, and Lendrum says the fledgling business seemed to benefit from a growing interest in locally-grown and sourced food.

"It's good for your local economy, it's good for your connections with your community, and people have really realized how far we have drifted from that with the big supermarkets and the industrial food system," he said.

In recent years, Lendrum and Ross were selling their goat cheese at Whitehorse's weekly summer market and consistently selling out.

 "And quite quickly, too," says Lendrum.

"The people of Whitehorse have been tremendously supportive of our efforts."

No days off

The farm also grows vegetables, and Lendrum says they'll still bring some of those to market this summer.

A dairy takes a lot of work, though. And it's a big time commitment. 

At its peak, the goat dairy would produce about 30 litres of milk per day, which could make about 3 or 4 kilograms of cheese.

"There are no days off. You are out there, milling and processing your milk, everyday, come rain or shine."

Lendrum and Ross have been planning to quit the dairy for a few years, so they haven't been replenishing their supply of livestock as numbers dwindle. There are no longer enough goats for a viable dairy operation. Eventually, they'll have none.

"The goats are going to kind of bow out gracefully, I think. They're going to live out their days with us," Lendrum said.