Baetje Farms Cheese -- and the Folks (and Goats) Who Make It [PHOTOS]

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Steve and Veronica Baetje began selling their goat cheese commercially in 2007. Today Baetje Farms (8932 Jackson School Road, Bloomsdale; 573-483-9021), off Interstate 55 about 50 miles south of St. Louis, produces several varieties of aged and fresh goat- and sheep-milk cheeses in the French and European style.

The Baetjes handcraft their goat cheeses using milk obtained from their very own herd of registered Saanen dairy goats.

      Crystal Rolfe
      Crystal Rolfe

You can find Baetje Farms cheeses locally at Whole Foods Market and Local Harvest Grocery, among other places. The Baetjes also operate stands at farmers' markets including Soulard and Schlafly. (The Baetjes ask you not to drop in on them and their goats in their native habitat, however; the farmers aren't set up to entertain visitors.)

      Crystal Rolfe
      Crystal Rolfe

The barn dates back to 1912; the Baetjes added the cheese plant in 2006.

      Crystal Rolfe
      Crystal Rolfe

The Baetjes' herd of Saanen goats enjoy their morning meal while being milked. The largest breed of dairy goat, the Saanen originated in Switzerland.

      Crystal Rolfe
      Crystal Rolfe

Each able goat on the farm is milked every twelve hours and will produce one-half to one gallon a day, depending on her age.

      Crystal Rolfe
      Crystal Rolfe

Filled canisters are filtered, then the milk is poured into a vat to chill down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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