Written by Carolyn Goodwin
Sunday, 28 March 2010 21:49
Grade A Raw Milk Certification is the Holy Grail for a dairy owner. Earning it takes time, money and a serious commitment to cleanliness. John and Vicky McGarrity began their quest several years ago. Recently their Hansville Creamery became the first in Kitsap County to be certified, and they now have fresh, raw goat milk for sale.
“The journey to certification has actually been a lot of fun,” explained their daughter Lindsey McGarrity, “We’ve all learned so much along the way.” Lindsey is helping to pay her way through college with the money she makes from the farm.
The McGarritys began raising goats because Vicky loved fresh milk but was allergic to cow’s milk. When carpal tunnel syndrome forced her to leave a career in high tech, she looked to her goats for more than just milk. Maybe they could offer her a new way to make a living. So began Little Rascals Farm, which is the name the McGarritys gave to their goat operation.
Since then, the McGarrity farm has become a true family affair. Father John built the milking shed and commercial kitchen required for certification. Vicky has nurtured the first few goats into a herd of 16. She does most of the milking, and makes cheeses and soaps. Daughter Lindsey has created a line of brilliantly colored yarns, and helps take care of the kids that come in twos and threes (many does have triplets) in early spring. And eldest daughter Talaena helps with the books and Farmers' Markets. Talaena and her husband, Todd Cheesman, have helped with every phase of construction.
Once the kids (of the goat variety) have taken their share of the milk this month, the McGarritys will begin selling milk directly from their farm, and through Real Foods Market on Bainbridge Island, Fresh Local in Bremerton, and the Poulsbo and Kingston Farmers’ Markets.
The Hansville Creamery is on five acres near Hansville, WA. Goats roam a large portion of the acreage under the watchful eye of Chief, the imposing Great Pyrenees dog that protects the goats and chickens from critters. The McGarritys are currently carving out a new vegetable garden on their property to feed themselves and their herd.
“We’ll grow lots of kale to feed the goats,” John explained. “It increases the nutritional value of the milk.” That’s good for both the goat kids and the humans that drink it.
Vicky says that customers are coming to the farm from all over Kitsap, eager to find a certified source of raw milk in the county. Some of them drive from Bainbridge Island, which is where she grew up. She lived in one of three homes
that her mother Patricia Hamersly barged from Seattle to Bainbridge at the Head of the Bay in 1959. All three houses are still there.
Now the McGarritys enjoy rare moments of rest on their quiet farm in Hansville. “We can’t hear a road here at all,” Vicky said. ‘Sometimes it’s so quiet we can hear the train from all the way over in Edmonds.”
When the train whistles aren’t blowing the only noises are the soft clucks of chickens, an occasional warning bark from Chief the guard dog, and the comforting sounds of a family at work.
Hansville Creamery (and Little Rascals Farm)
8307 NE 360th Street
Hansville, WA 98346