Jennifer Maeverde’s favorite time of year has to be kid season. So far this spring, she and her partner, Scott Belanger, have welcomed more than 30 baby Nubian goats to their farm and creamery, Olde Oak Farm, located 40 miles north of Bangor in the town of Maxfield.
Each morning, they get up, milk the goats, set cheese and then feed the kids — a pack of hungry, energetic, rather loud babies who grow up right before their eyes.
“We’ve had an amazing kid season,” said Maeverde, who with Belanger has owned and operated Olde Oak Farm for more than six years, first in Orono and, since 2009, on their 100-acre property in Maxfield, near Howland. “They have their little personalities. Nubian goats are very friendly, very easy to get along with.”
Olde Oak is one of the few goat farms in Maine that raises Nubian goats — most creameries have Alpine goats, which are bigger, are more used to colder climates, have pointy ears and are a little more ornery. Nubian goats are a little smaller, are more accustomed to the climate of the Middle East, have floppy ears and are a little friendlier.
“They’d be happy to come inside and cuddle on the sofa,” said Maeverde. “They love people.”
They can’t keep all the babies each year, so some go to Blue Seal pet, farm, home and garden store, where they are sold as pets or as companion animals for horses. Once the kids are old enough, they are put into the milking rotation for the array of cheeses Olde Oak makes. They make around 30 varieties of cheese, including cow’s milk cheeses such as boursin, mozzarella, Gouda, havarti, tomme and St. Nectaire-style, made with milk from Clovercrest Farm in Charleston.
For the goat cheeses, there’s an aged chevre, a goat’s milk camembert and a seasonal queso fresco, as well as ten varieties of fresh chevre. Olde Oak will sell its cheeses at four markets this summer, including the Winter Harbor Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, the Bangor Outdoor Market from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, the Orono Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, and the Bangor Farmers Market from 11 to 2 p.m. Sundays, of which the latter two open for the season this weekend. It also supplies cheese to restaurants including Nocturnem Drafthaus and the Fiddlehead in Bangor, and at Central Street Farmhouse, also in Bangor.
The seven herd originators were named Sensational, Sunny, Pretty, Opal, Gem, Prime and Pleasure, and for each name, Maeverde chose a system for naming their descendents. For instance, Pretty’s children are named after actresses, so the first generation of goats is named for 1930s actresses (Lillian Gish), the second named for 1940s (Greta Garbo), the third for 1950s (Zsa Zsa Gabor) and so on. She also named each goat’s individual fresh chevre cheeses after the herd originators.
“Each cheese memorializes those original goats,” said Maeverde. “I think Sensational might be our best seller, which is pine nuts, sundried tomatoes, garlic and rosemary. But I also tried to match the flavor profile to their personalities, so, for example, Pretty was a very feisty goat, and her flavor, which is herbs and red pepper flakes, give you kind of a kick at the end.”
Olde Oak Farm welcomes visitors by appointment; to set up a time to visit the goats, email firstname.lastname@example.org.