Steve and Veronica Baetje have been making cheese at Baetje Farms in the foothills of the Ozarks since 2006. The Batjes keep a large herd of Saanen dairy goats, and along with six employees produce cheeses from March to November, selling them mostly in the metropolitan St. Louis area.
Steve and Veronica wake up at 3 am each day to milk their 53 goats, and spend the rest of the day turning that milk into cheese. Goats receive an unlimited supply of filtered spring water to drink from the farm’s spring, and their diet—an all-natural antibiotic-free whole grain ration—is supplemented with organic herbal teas, organic mineral supplements, locally grown alfalfa hay, and the farm’s pasture. The milking season begins in spring and ends in winter, giving the goats a break for several months a year.
Named after the Missouri town in which the Baetjes’ farm is located, and inspired by the hills surrounding the property, Bloomsdale is a mold-ripened goat cheese modeled after the French classic Valençay. It’s formed into a shape of a pyramid with a flattened top (according to legend, it was Napoleon who chopped off the top of the cheese pyramid, as it reminded him of his disastrous campaign in Egypt). Bloomsdale, which is rolled in a mixture of ash and salt, turns progressively softer as it ages, until it becomes runny. Minimum aging time is 10 days.