Goat creamery in Chester draws Ag+Art Tour visitors

The air was hot and the sun was out, but the goats at Fishing Creek Creamery in Chester didn’t seem to mind on Saturday, as guests flocked to their farm as part of the 2014 Catawba Regional Ag+Art Tour.

The creamery, run by David and Melinda Cole, was one of dozens of stops in Chester, York, Lancaster and Fairfield counties where anyone could see farmers and artists, and their work, on display.

At the creamery David Cole put a goat on a pedestal to teach visitors what he called “Goat 101” – everything from what they eat to how to care for their hooves.

Dairy goat farming was an accidental career, Melinda Cole said.

They started with five goats, inspired by David’s lactose intolerance and a farmer in Lancaster who produced goat’s milk. Soon,five goats turned into 10, and they realized they needed to sell their goats or sell their two acres in Fort Mill and relocate.

Fishing Creek Creamery now has dozens of goats and produces cheese and other products sold at theirstore, local shops and farmers’ markets.

“It started out really small and just got bigger and it’s a lot of work, but we enjoy every second of it,” Melinda Cole said.

After finishing “Goat 101,” David Cole taught Hannah Cantrell, 10, of Rock Hill, how to milk a goat named Purple, named for her oddball nature.

“I don’t really know how to explain it,” Hannah said the experience. She said it was a little squishy, but not too weird, and said she would definitely do it again.

Cole then led a group to where the goats are milked. When Fishing Creek Creamery was a smaller operation he milked the goats by hand, twice daily. Each goat took about 10 minutes.

Now, with more sophisticated machinery, he can milk his goats in a matter of minutes. “It makes my life a lot easier this way,” Cole said of the new technology.

The Creamery hopes to expand its line of products in the next few years, adding yogurt and other items. The Creamery currently makes chevre, goat cheese icing and feta. They’re also looking into starting a co-op with a neighbor who wants to start raising goats.