Bigfoot legends, Portland eccentricities, Nike’s birthplace, Goonies backdrop, rugged coastline, year ’round rain and rich vegetation. Come to find out, they also has some damn good goat cheese.
We had never been to Oregon before. Austinites dream of exchanging air conditioning for alpine air, drought for afternoon rain showers, and sweaty t-shirts for wearing a jacket. Portland lived up to our expectations. We drank incredible beer, had some fabulous meals, witnessed world Naked Bike Ride Day and other quirky happenings. A personal highlight was at the farmer’s market, I met a charming gentleman that sculpted me into a garden gnome. My inner Amelie was delighted to say the least.
For the second leg of our trip, I planned a visit to the Rogue River. I wanted to see what south Oregon looked and felt like. Oregon’s tourism site proved a handy tool to take a peak at farm stay vacations in the area, and I came across an airstream trailer experience on 40 acres with two lovely hosts that make cheese. Reviews looked favorable. Why not give it a shot? Pholia Farms did not disappoint.
Ten miles outside of the city of Rogue River, nestled on back country roads sits open pastures, clean air, divinely wooded hills, and a charming off-the-grid creamery and farm. Vern and Gianaclis have built what some might call utopia, others might call a lot of planning and very hard work.
My husband and I did not intend to fall in love with farming, goats and cheese that weekend. But it happened anyways. We stayed two nights in a refurbished Airstream trailer that overlooked a field with a Llama. Our hostess tucked award-winning, aged, hard cheeses into our small kitchenette for us to sample while sitting on the covered porch at sunset. While making coffee in our small trailer, I watched the largest woodpecker I’ve ever seen scour a decaying tree stump for insect morsels. And we got to play with a lot of goats.
Pholia Farms has Nubian Dwarves and LaManchas. They produce high fat milk that is great for cheese making while being a manageable sized animal (unlike say a Jersey Cow). The disposition of the goats intrigued us. They reminded us of dogs – each with a unique, quirky personality. In fact, we even had the opportunity to go on a walk with the goats. Yes, all 40+ of them, through trails around the farm so they could graze on natural forage. We were also fortunate enough to visit the farm while there were baby goats (kids). While the adults grazed on nearby hay stacks, the kids erratically jumped in the air or even played on a playground set. Adorable to say the least.
I’m thankful to our lovely hosts Vern and Gianaclis. They opened our eyes that with proper planning, determination, resourcefulness and focus you can succeed. They’ve approached farming and their dairy as a business first. Airstream rental, livestock sale, cheese sale, and cheese making classes are all product lines that are tweaked over time. They’re extremely smart, talented, and warm people – and I couldn’t have been luckier to have the opportunity to meet them and stay with them. Also if you are contemplating starting a small dairy or getting into cheese making, you must immediately buy Gianaclis’ books.