Deep in the hills above the Los Angeles basin sits Angeles Crest Creamery, a 70-acre working goat farm dotted with sagebrush and Joshua trees.
Every aspect of the farm conveys a powerful sense of place, from the howls of coyotes to the San Andreas fault that formed the surrounding hills. Owner Gloria Putnam began the creamery three years ago with the goal to teach visitors about climate change-resistant animal husbandry.
The center of farm life is the red barn, home to Putnam’s goats and guarded by a team of Great Pyrenees. While friendly with visitors and farm animals (including turkeys and a pig), these dogs defend the herd from the coyotes and the mountain lions that roam the hills above the ranch.
The goat’s milk cheese is a spreadable chèvre reminiscent of ricotta. It’s so fresh it nearly squeaks when you bite into a slice of bread slathered with it. Ironically, the chèvre lacks the pungent tang often associated with goat cheese, but is noted for its clean flavor.
Putnam also sells goat milk, yogurt, caramel, meats, and fresh blue eggs. Each product is grown, cultivated, or made onsite.
In addition to buying fresh products, visitors to the farm are invited to help with farm chores. These can include milking and feeding the goats, or hiking with the 60-head herd through the hills.
While rustic, the farm boasts plush accommodations with an Airstream and cheerful patio at one end of the property and a charming, pristine tiny home with an outdoor shower at the other end. Camping sites are scattered across the property, with enough space between each location to feel private. A barrel sauna that comfortably fits four people sits centrally near the entrance to the ranch.
At the eastern end of the property, tall reeds hug the edges of Lake Caldwell, an example known colloquially as a “sag pond” in the midst of earthquake country.
At dusk, just before the coyotes begin their chorus, the sky lights up with vibrant peach, lavender, and coral-hued whorls. Southern California’s magnificent wintertime sunsets are legendary and last just long enough for a serene stroll back to camp for a nightcap.
Photo Credit: Lauren Williams