Our Humbled Beginnings
Hello and thank you for visiting us here at Baetje Farms in Bloomsdale, MO. We are located in scenic Southeast Missouri, Sainte Genevieve County.
Sainte Genevieve is the oldest town west of the Mississippi. It was settled by the French who came down the Mississippi from Canada. It is easy to see why they stopped here, for the land is rich in diversity. Along the banks of the mighty Mississippi there is rich bottom land in which many crops are grown. As you move west from the Mississippi the Ozark foothills begin. Full of valleys, streams, springs and fields, our farm is located in the Forche du Clos Valley. We have here some of the last bits of cropland before you enter into the vast Mark Twain National Forest farther west of us.
Our farm in particular has some history too. Our barn was actually started as a Sears and Roebuck kit barn, built by our neighbor's uncle in 1912. His name is inscribed in the haybonnet up in the loft of our barn. We added the first cheese plant onto our barn in 2006 and due to increasing demand for our product completed the second addition in 2011. The large White House was built in the late 1700's and it is rumored that when the civil war soldiers marched through this area they stopped at the big white farmhouse. There is also tales of the French nobility enjoying the valley as they visited the settlement nearby.
Pure Artisan Farmstead Goat Cheeses
Many of the cheeses we produce are solely from our own herds milk and classified as "Pure Artisan Farmstead" goat cheeses. In case you are not familiar with what the terms "Farmstead" or "Artisan" means, I would like to take a moment and explain the terms to you..."Farmstead" signifies cheese made solely with milk from the cheese maker's own animals. "Artisan" is a skilled manual worker or craftsman...So, in essence we produce our cheeses in an old world European style, the way cheese had been produced for thousands of years long before the family farm was turned into an industrial factory, as is and has been the current trend of farming in the United States for quite some time.
So, now that you are familiar with what type of farm we are, let us take some time to tell you how we manage our farm and what makes us different from other farmstead artisan producers (rare as they are in America)...We believe the best cheese comes from the best milk and the best milk comes from animals that are in the best physical condition possible. Our dairy goats receive an unlimited supply of filtered spring water to drink from a spring fed well here on our farm. We also supplement their diet with organic herbal teas, (which they love warm esp. in the cold of winter). They receive daily: organic mineral supplements, locally grown alfalfa hay, browse pasture, and are fed an all natural antibiotic free whole grain ration that has been custom prepared to our specifications. We make sure in essence that our goats are receiving the correct amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and other necessary nutrients. Our goats are free to choose what they prefer to do, whether it is to skip and run up a hill, lie under the shade of a tree, soak up some sunshine, or play with one of their herd mates. They are not in tie stalls or kept in confinement as are done on other dairies. Nor are they fed hormones to increase their milk production, nor are they on a constant stream of feed laden with antibiotics.
We as Christians believe God created these animals and try to give them the best environment possible. We do not "milk them for all they are worth" as the old phrase goes, but allow our goats to keep the natural time clock that they were created to have. While some dairies push their goats to alter their genetically set clock and breed and kid out of their normal season, we do not.
The natural seasons of spring kidding which begins our milking season, coincides with the greening of pasture after the dead of winter. The abundance of summer feed coincides with the abundance of milk our girls produce, and as fall comes into play and the local area deer begin their breeding season, so begins another breeding season for our goats as well and lactation soon begins to cease in the dead of winter. That is when they enjoy a bit of "vacation". All of these factors produce very happy goats which ultimately produce delicious cheese.
Our cheese making facility is built to produce small quantities of cheese coupled with state of the art aging facilities that produce exacting temperature and humidity conditions. We use very fresh rennet and cultures that are imported from France and Denmark.
Awards and Recognition
We have been manufacturing cheese and caring for our herd for over 10 years and have received education from both the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese as well as the University of Wisconsin. Our Head Cheese Maker has completed both the Cheesemaker's certificate course as well as the Advanced Cheesemakers Certificate course in Vermont. We became a state licensed facility through the Missouri Milk Board in September 2007 and have recently won over 60 awards to date for our Artisan Cheese.
Click below to see all of our awards our artisan cheese has won in competitions around the world!