Hope Bolton of Pure Luck Farm and Dairy

Hope Barton and a one-day old kid.

By: 
Gary Zupancic

 

Just a few miles outside of Dripping Springs, is a farm with acres and acres of rolling green— vivid springtime green, the kind you only get after a few days of rain, followed by a few days of pure sun. As you approach the farmhouse, you can’t help but think that it could pass for something out of a movie, it’s that perfect. A beautiful farmhouse shaded by huge trees, and no signs of urban encroachment anywhere on the horizon. This is old Dripping Springs, nothing of the new. You stop, and take a slow breath as you take it all in.

After a few steps and a knock on the door, the four sisters of Pure Luck Farm and Dairy are there, and they are all smiles. Amelia, the farm’s manager, and her sisters Gitana, Claire and Hope live on the farm, along with their families. Hope, the youngest, was even born in the original farmhouse right on the property, something she’s very proud of.

Their late mother Sara bought the 11-acre farm back in 1979.  In 1995, she and her husband, Denny Barton, started a goat dairy after making homemade cheeses with success. The cheeses have won numerous awards.

Everyone has a job at the farm and dairy. When Hope was away at college and living in West Texas, she handled all the social media for the farm. But now the DSHS graduate is back and in the thick of things.

“I missed the land and my family. The land is wonderful and beautiful. My sisters live here with their children,” Hope said. It was a lot of work growing up, but the good parts such as family and working with them, she missed.

She’s moved back home and although she works for the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce, she gets up at 4:30 a.m. three days a week to look after the real workers of the dairy, the goats.

She starts by cleaning and sanitizing the milking area and the equipment, something crucial to the dairy and the cheeses that are produced here. Knowing all the goats and their personalities and how they react to the milking machines is all part of the job. 

“Training the goats on the new machines was a lot of work,” she said. The dairy went to a newer milking machine, one more efficient. The goats didn’t like the change, one big reason being that it sounded different. 

“All have personalities, some you need to milk slower, knowing how their bodies work. This is critical to the milking process. This one kicks, this one is slow to milk… They all have quirks and personalities.”

“Some don’t want to follow the rules. Some are leaders and some are followers. 

Whoever is going to be a leader, it’s important that they be somewhat bossy,” Hope said. Goats are tattooed in the ear to identify each one.

There are two types of breeds of goats on the farm, Alpine and Nubian, plus the crossbreeds. The Alpines produce more milk, but the Nubians produce more butterfat. “Nubians yell out a little more, are more emotional. Alpines are let’s get the job done,” Hope said. 

Altogether, there are about 100 goats on the property, with two males. Sixty-seven are milking, and four more are with babies.

The farm had some babies born the previous day, which were too cute. Momma was not the least bit protective with Hope there. 

“The babies’ first milking is important because of the mother’s nutrients. But then the babies are bottle-fed. We want them to be used to us. We are their people, when they are hungry they should come to us.” 

The goats live in a bucolic setting, like a pastoral painting with green grass all around, trees, and two big friendly dogs of European sheepherding lineage. The dogs are protective and keep away any dangerous predators. When they are not being milked, the goats have it made.

Goats are milked twice a day and are rewarded with alfalfa, oats and other treats. The milking room is all hoses. “It’s a better handling of the milk. It travels through a stainless steel system,” Amelia said. “We now can do 12 (goats) not 8. So we can milk 6 at a time. It’s more efficient.”

After the milking, the milk is processed and is then made into seven different cheeses: Chevre, Anaheim Red Chili Chevre, Cracked Black Pepper Chevre, Mixed Herb Chevre, June’s Joy, Hopelessly Bleu, Feta, and Sainte Maure.

“Family farms get kids involved. Tasks have to be done everyday. It instills a work ethic,” Hope said. “Growing up, it was wonderful, you always saw work as a part of life. Summer vacation, it was work, but fun, especially fun going in the pool.” 

Family farms can and do work in the twenty-first century, and Pure Luck Farm and Dairy proves this. 

Pure Luck Cheeses are available at Whole Foods, Central Market, and numerous other organic grocers around the area. For locations please see the website at: purelucktexas.com.

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