Interview with Mary Ann Andrews at Dreamcatcher Ranchito by Marcia Fine
1. Why a goat farm? You’re a talented woman with many skills. What drew you in mid-life to explore starting a dairy farm?
I actually started out with alpacas and that industry fizzled in 2008. I had this great livestock property and started exploring raising different animals and discovered the dairy goat and all of it’s many attributes.
Many people were on a healthy living and eating trend. Santa Fe is known for supporting local farmers. I enjoy bringing good, healthy food to people. You can taste it in the quality of the milk, and it trickles down to the richness of the cheese and other products.
2. Why are your mozzarella, cheddar, goat and feta cheeses a superior product to what we buy in the supermarket? Our cheese is so good because it is delivered fresh. No long days of transporting in a truck.
3. How do you market your products?
The marketing has been through extensive in-store demon strations and local farmer’s markets. Also, word-of-mouth with our dedicated customers means customers come back for more.
4. You also make brownies. I’ve tasted them and they melted in my mouth. Why are they special? What’s in them that makes them so magical?
The brownies are a collaboration between me and my friend, Ana. She brings her baking skills to the table and I bring my desire to create wholesome, delectable food that many can enjoy. I believe the chevre in the goat cheese lends to some of the fudgey consistency. They’re also gluten-free!
5. Are you the only woman-owned goat farm in New Mexico? How do you manage such a large operation that involves feeding and milking every day? When do you have time to make the cheeses?
Yes, I am the only woman-owned goat farm in New Mexico. For the love of goat I have managed this operation. I would love to find the next generation that I could mentor in this business and see them soar. The cheeses are made each day after milking using the freshest milk.
6. Most of the goats have names and personalities. Coco, a large momma with speckled ears knows the sound of my voice.What is your relationship with the goats, considering you sometimes sell the kids as pets? What do they give back to you?
Everyone we keep has a name. They are all special beings. They are loved and valued for the wonderful milk they provide which in turn yields wonderful cheeses, yogurts and keifer. They know your voice and have identified you as trustworthy! I consider the goats my dear friends that never judge and always love and accept everyone. They give me unconditional love. The kids are placed in homes as pets whenever we can.
7. You are interested in sharing the experience of a goat farm and where food actually comes from. How do you impart that?
When folks come to the farm and stay here we give out many samples and it gives me an opportunity to talk about why things taste so good. Quality is not by chance.
Also when I am at the farmer’s market and people are tasting our sampling of items. Each item is a lesson for the customer.My intent is to teach what it is like to own a goat farm and the responsibility of providing wonderful food!
8. You work hard to keep a farm running. It’s also a spiritual experience. What can you share about being an entrepreneur? Where do you find solace?
My spiritual moments are when I’m milking my girls. I see love in the face of each one. In this world of confusion and stress my girls give me solace. Being an entrepreneur in the farming business allows me to create and orchestrate a business that works for the employees, animals and the great people who volunteer. This is what it truly means to be connected to the earth.
9. What challenges do you face? Any advice for future goat farmers?
The major challenge is to find the right people to make the farm run smoothly. We exist on tight margins. All businesses deal with constant change. Be prepared to go with the flow. My business plan today is very different than when I first started. Small dairies depend on a strong customer base. I appreciate the people who keep coming back for more!
Thank you, Mary Ann!
Mary Ann can be reached at www.dreamcatcherranchito.com. Her cheeses can be shipped in the U.S. Or, visit the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays for a sample! Her product is sold at fine grocery stores and at the La Montanita Co-op Food Market–Santa Fe.