CLARMELL ON THE RIDEAU – Pure Goat Cheese
If you drive south past Manotick along the Rideau River and travel eight kilometres or so down the two-lane highway, still within Ottawa’s city limits, you will see a white farmhouse with a black roof, and the sign for Clarmell Farms. This fifth-generation dairy farm has been in the Mussell family for more than 100 years, and is a designated ‘Century Farm’. And there is news on the farm. Paul and Grace Mussell, Ryan, Kristine and Ben, are pleased to announce the production of their new cheeses, both Feta and Chevre, made 100% with their own goats’ milk, in a winning partnership with the Glengarry Fine Cheese Factory in Lancaster, Ontario. The cheese maker is already known for her award-winning cheeses, and these two new products promise to tantalize the taste buds of local cheese lovers.
There is a story behind these delectable, tangy cheeses. If you stop to chat, the Mussells will explain that the story of their new undertaking began with son Ryan’s graduation from Kemptville Agricultural College in 2008. That training was part of a long tradition: his father and mother, grandmother, and great-grandfather and great-grandmother had graduated from the college before him. It had also become a tradition for the family to incorporate agricultural advances. And now they saw that dairy goat farming and the health benefits inherent in goats’ milk and cheese would be a wave of the future.
That is how the Mussell family made the decision to move from dairy cattle to dairy goat farming. Their new herd was dominated by the Saanen breed, best known for the quality of their milk and their high production. The Mussells then added a judicious mix of Nubian, Alpine and Toggenberg goats whose milk would raise the total level of butterfat. A new barn was built, one with side drop-curtains to let in the sunlight and fresh air. With two hundred kids being born , they knew their herd would flourish. Now the dairy barns are filled with kids, young goats and mature milking stock all housed in clean, sweet-smelling straw, and ruled by the iron hoof of Lydia, the black-and-white nanny goat who chose to be the dairy’s mascot.
The story of the new cheese continues as you pass the dairy barns. You see that the farm buildings nestle among fields of timothy hay and alfalfa, while corn and soybeans make a patchwork of green and gold. If you happen to be there on a hot, sunny day, you might wave to the whole family busy with the summer haymaking. Yes, the goats’ feed is grown right in the fields surrounding the barns, and the herd’s health is further ensured through the practice of natural animal husbandry. Moreover, both goats and milk are hormone-free. The dairy facilities are licensed and government inspected—a guarantee of the clean, wholesome environment of Clarmell Farms.
Now you’re home. Cut into the Feta cheese; let the salty richness fill your senses. Enjoy the creamy tang of the Chevre. And remember the summer breezes and rich milk of Clarmell Farms.