You’re going to need four-wheel drive to get to Coonridge Organic Goat Cheese Dairy.
Memories originally drew farm owner Nancy Coonridge to this spot in the mountains of New Mexico. In the sixties, Nancy decided that she needed a goat. “Several adventures later” while hitchhiking to California’s Central Valley, she found one. The pair later hiked to the Sacramento River.
Nancy describes seeing dawn break as they approached the river. “The sun was glowing across the water,” she recalls. “The goat, who was city-raised and always drank out of a bowl or pail, walked up to the river, spread her legs, and drank like a wild deer.”
When Nancy decided to start her own farm, this remote location reminded her of that Sacramento River experience. “I wanted my goats to have a natural life,” says Nancy. Coonridge now boasts 25 goats, and they take “free-range” to the next level; Each morning after milking, the goats are released to wander a landscape that has no fences or humans for miles around.
The region isn’t without its perils. Predators range from mountain lions to coyotes. Following the reintroduction of wolves to the area, Nancy acquired some Maremmas. These giant white dogs were originally bred for wolf control in the Italian Alps, and five of them now accompany the goat herd as they amble around the countryside.
What’s her favorite time of year? “Oh, spring, of course,” she says. “[Being] with the mother goats as they give birth is amazing. Plus, the kid goats are so much fun.”