BOONE LIFE: Couple marks a decade of goat cheesemaking

Thursday, May 19, 2011 | 6:00 p.m. CDT; updated 5:06 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 20, 2011

HARRISBURG — Ken and Jenn Muno, owners of Goatsbeard Farm, live on an 80-acre farm with their two children, two dogs, one cow, chickens, ducks and about 60 dairy goats.

Between taking care of their children and maintaining the farm and the goat herd, they find time to make fresh and aged goat cheese that they have sold in Boone County and around Missouri for 10 years.

“We say we’re a pasture-based, sustainable family farm, so our aim is to use our pastures to feed our goats and get them out into the fresh air, to use as many sustainable methods as we can in our farming and to teach our children to take care of the land, and to know and love the land,” Jenn Muno said.

Before coming to Missouri, the couple met while selling cheese at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“It was sort of like the school of cheese," Jenn Muno said. "We learned all about small dairies in the United States and around the world and fell in love with goat cheese and each other. It just sort of progressed from there."

After Jenn Muno’s father took a job at MU, the couple followed. Jenn Muno's parents were interested in helping start the farm and have played an active part. The Munos have also hired four part-time employees who help with daily chores and the cheesemaking process. With so many tasks, including the cheesemaking, goat husbandry, veterinary care, milking, pasture care, accounting and marketing, the Munos said they could not do it alone.

“That’s what I really like about farmstead cheesemaking is that there are so many things that we have to know how to do, and after 10 years we’ve figured out, luckily, a lot of what it takes to keep the goats healthy,” Jenn Muno said.

Ken is the primary cheesemaker at Goatsbeard, and over the years he has developed his own recipes. He built up his cheesemaking experience as an apprentice at two dairies in California and Massachusetts and by taking dairy science classes. To keep the cheeses local, the couple has named them after locations in the region such as the Moniteau Blue, Prairie Bloom and Taum Sauk.

“I know our cheese is the freshest goat cheese anyone can find in the area, and we have a lot of unique cheeses,” Jenn Muno said.

The Munos have won honors for their cheese from the American Cheese Society. Their Prairie Bloom cheese and marinated fresh round have placed third in the society's competitions.

“This is our 10th year, and we’re pretty excited about that. It’s sort of an exhausted, excited feeling,” Jenn Muno said with a laugh.

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