Amaltheia Dairy, Montana!

What? I can’t quite hear you. Did you say, “more goats”? I aim to please….

Mona Lisa Smile

Don’t you think goats have Mona Lisa smiles?

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I was out in Bozeman visiting my family and the first thing I did when I got into town was stop in the local Food Co-op and scope out the cheese selection. I bought a bunch of good stuff to share (Humboldt Fog which my brothers loved, a puck of French Prairie brie from Willamette Valley and some dependable 12-month manchego). Then I hunted around for something from Montana. The only thing I could find was the mysteriously named Montana Organic Chevre.

After we feasted on all this good cheese and decided that the chevre was truly awesome, I started poking around online to figure out who was behind this yummy chevre. As it turns out, right outside Bozeman, Montana, in the cute little town of Belgrade, you can find one of Montana’s few cheesemakers. I sent them an email asking for a tour and heard back almost immediately that I could come on out.

Montana Farm Road

Montana Farm Road

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Montana Organic Chevre is produced by Amaltheia Dairy, a family operation owned by Sue and Melvyn Brown with cheese and pigs tended by their son, Nate. From the feed, to the methods, to the product, it’s all organic. Sue and Melvyn own 20 acres and lease another 350 for their herd of goats and pigs. They raise the pigs for their meat which is cured without nitrates by another local business and sold in town. The pigs, of course, get to feast on the delicious and nutritious whey which is a bi-product of the cheesemaking operation.

I convinced my Mom that she needed to come with me to see all the goats plus I would need her help to keep from getting lost. First we stopped off at the creamery which is right on the main drag through Belgrade. It’s a non-descript, no frills operation where they convert over 1,000 gallons of fresh goat milk per week into organic chevre (plain, garlic and chive, spicy pepper and other tasty flavors), plus feta and ricotta. Sadly, they are not yet doing any aging yet – I was hoping to score something good and stinky on my visit.

Then we drove over to the farm about five miles away and met Melvyn, a Brit with a career background in animal husbandry. He met Sue in Guatemala and eventually they made their way to Montana to pursue organic farming as a living.

Wilbur looks for a treat from Melvyn

Wilbur comes rooting for a treat from Melvyn

Melvyn showed us around the farm and introduced us to some goats and a very friendly piggie named Wilbur. They are an all-goat, all-chevre creamery and maintain over 250 milking goats: LaMancha, Alpine & Saanen. They farm their own feed and compost their manure and farm waste. In fact, they are part of a Montana pilot program to make this kind of compost and waste recovery more prevalent and revenue-generating. We talked a little bit about the ups and downs of being a cheesemaker in Montana and how difficult it is to assure all the regulatory agencies that your milk is safe. Melvyn knows of only one other cheesemaker in the state, a fellow doing cow’s milk cheese commercially in western Montana.

Goats & Mountains

Goat pasture with the Bridger Range in the background.

You can find their cheese primarily in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Sadly, I couldn’t find it around the Portland area. You can learn more about them on their website or their Facebook page. You can also buy fantastic packages of their cheeses – a great gift idea for a chevre lover. See more photos of the dairy (and goats! and pigs!) on my Flickr photostream.

A big thank you to the folks at Amaltheia for letting me come out and a special thanks to Melvyn for being my tour guide. Best of luck to you!

6 Comments »

  1. sue Brown said,

    November 19, 2009 @ 10:19 am

    Hi..the article was great! You can get the cheese in Portland, in fact we ship our cheese to the west coast to Tualatin to be distributed by DPI. We used to have a Portland distributor called NW Distribution and we were in all of the co-ops and New Seasons stores…If you can get people to ask for it, it is easily gotten through a two day UPS or through our distributor, DPI. We were recently told that New Seasons doesn’t want our organic cheese (the only organic in the NW) when they have local cheeses they can buy…I know Portland and how well our cheese did before, so I am amazed that they said that. thanks for your help!!! Sue brown

  2. Amanda said,

    November 19, 2009 @ 11:53 am

    Thanks for the clarification, Sue! Everyone — ask for Montana Organic Chevre from Amaltheia Dairy by name! It’s delicious and organic.

  3. Jan Mackie Gault said,

    December 16, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

    Hi Sue – could you send me a personal email address? I would like to give you some information not connected with your business. I have read several of the articles. I may have to order some. :) Thanks, Jan

  4. FUCheese » 2009, the Year of Festivals said,

    January 7, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

    [...] end of the year rounded out with more goats, excellent cheese plates and a beer/cheese pairing challenge! My friend Bruce, a die-hard beer nerd [...]

  5. thomas J Simms said,

    October 3, 2012 @ 4:46 am

    Hi sue , this is tom simms remember me my parents were talking about your goat farm yesterday while we took a ride up to farmcountrycheese factory north of Greenville
    in Lakeview, mi., where they have always bought there cheddar cheese there favorite has always been the Sharp & extra sharp. I drank goats milk years ago and it is good, have had the goat cheese. Tried getting my parents just to try it but you know how hard it is to change someone set in there ways. My parents just had there 70th wedding aniversity on Sept., 21st.

  6. Linda Biram said,

    October 17, 2012 @ 7:10 am

    Wonderful article! Will be visiting family on Friday-Monday…hope we can come meet Wilbur, and visit the farm. My sister in law lives down the street from Belgrade, her daughter is getting married, I’m sure she would love some Chevre’!!

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