Brent has lived in Italy for 20 years, and eight years ago he fell in love with and then purchased a goat cheese farm, named Valle di Mezzo (Middle Valley), that had fallen on hard times. Brent then set about increasing both the size of the herd and the variety and quality of cheeses. Now the cheeses range from the freshest — ricotta and soft cheeses days old — to fine, mature wheels and rounds (some aged more than a year). Some of the cheese types are traditional, while others Brent has developed himself, such as those wrapped with herbs from Valle di Mezzo) or in plant leaves (walnut, chestnut or grape from the farm, or tobacco leaves from the nearby valley).
Brent, who is ebullient in both Italian and English, welcomes many visitors at the farm – ranging from residents of nearby Anghiari and Sansepolcro to school groups, restaurant owners and travelers — all of whom enjoy meeting the goats and purchasing the cheese where it is made. For their part, the goats seem to enjoy the attention.
The current herd is 88 goats, all but three of which are female that produce milk for Brent’s fabulous cheeses after the babies are weaned. Baby goats are born from about March through May. This year there were 146 kids, 80 female and 66 male. Most goat births are twins, but healthy living at Valle di Mezzo this year brought seven sets of triplets!
The female goats (and the three males) are fortunate to have clear, fresh air and the wonderful views from the farm. When Brent ends up with too many goats, the extra female kids most often go to other goat farms.
And what happens to the male kids? Don’t ask! They don’t belong on a goat cheese farm!
Further pictures and information about the farm, the goats and the cheeses can be found at www.valledimezzo.com.
– Contributed by Pam and Doug Walter, ItalianNotebook readers and part-time residents of Tuscany. Many thanks!!