Candace Krebs, the marketing director for Ranch Foods Direct, spent some time here a few weeks ago and wrote this great article for the Ag Journal. She included my friend, Bonnie, from Chickens in the Kitchen too! (Bonnie, aka, our goat sitter and out-of-this-world-chocolate-almond-bar-maker.) Despite the triple chin in the first picture, I think I made out fairly well. (Note to self: Extend chin for all pictures.)
Thanks, Candace, for a great article! It was great spending time with you!
P.S. Bonnie said you brought her a cookie. Please bring me one next time. I’m begging. She said you are quite the baker and they are delicious!
– The Goat Cheese Lady
At urban homestead, cheese making inspires self-reliance
Lindsey Aparicio started making her own cheeses from fresh goat’s milk; then decided to open her kitchen to others who want to learn how. The classes have been more popular than she ever expected.
Lindsey Aparicio doesn’t have much of a background in food and agriculture, but when her first son was born, she started taking a keener interest.
When the recession hit the family’s real estate business, she and her husband became even more avid about growing their own food and reaping additional revenue from their one-and-a-half-acre mini-farm in the city.
But for them, and many others, the joy of self-sufficiency goes beyond economics.
The “do-it-yourself” aspect is what draws people to her cheese making classes even more than the fresh, creamy taste of homemade chevre, she believes.
“I think the interest isn’t so much in cheese making but in the novelty that someone can have a farm in the city,” she said. “It’s fun, and it’s something different to do.”
Known as the “Goat Cheese Lady,” Aparicio spends roughly 20 hours a week preparing for and hosting classes for adults and kids at her rambling urban farmstead on the western edge of Colorado Springs, where red rocks thrust up from the foothills. Since October, she has been demonstrating how to make three basic cheeses: a soft goat cheese, a mozzarella and a ricotta, using fresh goat’s milk and natural rennet. Most recently she has been experimenting with using part of the stomach from one of her own slaughtered young goats to coagulate the milk into curds.
Typically, the groups of four start out milking the does assembled in a pen next to the family’s vegetable garden. Though she also offers a “just cheese” option, the hands-on aspect is something that sets the experience apart.
“The classes have been way more popular than I expected,” she said. “It’s been wonderful. I’m very pleased with how it’s gone.”
She never expected to become a modern-day urban homesteader, either, though it fits with some of her childhood influences.
“I didn’t even know the word ‘foodie’ until last October,” she said. “I didn’t know by teaching these classes I was walking through the gates into the food scene. But I’ve learned about food sales laws and met lots of people who love to cook. I learn something from everybody who takes the class.”
Her husband, Herbert, is originally from El Salvador and had a more rural upbringing than her own. “He loves cheese, so this is a good thing for me to be doing, because he’ll sample anything I make,” she said. They often have fresh cheeses as a side dish at dinner.
The couple met in Washington State, where she attended college and worked as an occupational therapist and he was a social worker. Seven and a half years ago, they moved to Colorado Springs, where she had grown up, and got into the business of buying and fixing up properties.
“We’ve always liked to do anything we could do ourselves,” she said. “If we saw a painting we liked, we would go home and try to recreate it.”
One day she bought milk at the store, and it ended up triggering a major lifestyle change. “It was from Ohio and went bad in a few days,” she said. “That’s what convinced me to get the goats.”
When the economy soured, Aparicio looked for additional ways to generate income and decided to teach cheese making. She’s also offered classes on basic gardening, backyard chickens and how to make soap, lotion and bread.
She considers these activities more rewarding than her previous job. Both of her parents were independent, industrious and creative in their approach to work, an influence that has shaped her own inclinations.
“I’ve always been entrepreneurial,” she said. “I just didn’t want to work for anyone else.”
Her husband, whom she dubs the Animal Whisperer for his natural ability with the farm animals, has hands-on skills that have proven helpful. Among other things, he converted an old two-stall horse barn on the property into a chicken coop and indoor milking room, and built a milking stanchion for the goats. A carpenter, he has also custom built and sold dozens of backyard chicken coops and made much of the family’s furniture.
“I’m the idea person, but he is the backbone of everything around here,” Aparicio said. “If the boys need a toy, he builds them one. He saves and reuses things.”
These days her fridge is full of gallon containers of unpasteurized goat milk, which the family drinks as well as making into cheese. “For the health and taste, I think it really makes a big difference,” she said of using only fresh, minimally processed milk. “And with goats, the milk is naturally homogenized.”
Some claim goat’s milk is healthier than cows’ milk, more easily digestible and less likely to trigger food allergies.
“Whether you think it’s healthier or not, it’s an animal that can live on a much smaller area than a cow could, and it’s more easily transportable,” she said. “Some people come to my class with the specific intention to get goats. A lot of them leave here wanting to get goats.”
The can-do spirit that attracts people to her half-day classes extends beyond making and growing food into all areas of life, she said.
“It makes people really motivated to start doing more things for themselves,” she concludes.
Bonnie Simon, a friend who has taken her class and a fellow urban homesteader, also left a professional job and now has four chickens and a garden, offers cooking and canning classes and has aspirations of being a personal chef.
She said lessons in urban homesteading are popular because skills that used to be commonplace are now exotic.
“It’s interesting to be in the city and have a semi-agrarian lifestyle,” she said. “People don’t know how to do this stuff anymore.”
Like Aparicio, she prefers living in a place with the conveniences of town but still wants to gain greater resourcefulness and develop a home-based enterprise centered on making and growing things. (She calls her business Chickens in the Kitchen.) She also feels like the movement has momentum, pointing out that the Denver City Council passed an ordinance in mid-June that allows residents to keep a limited number of chickens and small goats within the state’s largest metro.
“I bought my house just so I could do this,” she added.