When we have a day with nothing to do we often find ourselves along the coast. Pescadero is one town we can’t get enough of: beaches, hiking, restaurants, berry picking and pumpkin farms. One place I had heard great things about, but we had never had the chance to visit was Harley Farms Goat Dairy . They have farm tours that book out in advance so when the kids had a planned week off of school in February I reserved our spots!
With all the rain we had this winter, we were lucky to go on a sunny day.
We were also lucky that it happened to be kidding season and there were goats that had been born just that day! While we waited for our tour to start, we watched some of the older kids (a couple of weeks old) playing outside in a pen. These 2 kids were fighting over who got to stand on the cinder block (sounds like something my kids would fight over).
Our tour started in the picnic area where we listened to the history of the farm. The farm grew from 6 pet goats to a heard of over 200 alpine goats today. Harley Farms produces critically acclaimed cheeses (chevre, fromage blanc, ricotta and feta) and have won many national awards and two international World Cheese Show medals. The entire cheese making production occurs onsite using only the milk produced from their own goats. They have a cheese shop onsite as well and also sell to local restaurants and some local grocery stores, like Whole Foods.
Our next stop was the milking station. They used to milk the goats by hand, but it eventually became time & cost prohibitive so they switched to pumps. Because of the drought and all the water it takes to clean the hoses after each use, they went from milking twice a day to just once. The goats line up in the exact same order every day and then are shuffled up a ramp and hooked up to the pumps.
Our next stop was the goat pen. Even though it was sunny, the ground was very muddy so the goats were crammed onto the dry hay under the roof. Everyone on our tour squeezed into the pen where they had the mother’s waiting to give birth and all the baby goats (born in the last few days).
We got to hold the babies and talk to some of the interns who were helping watch them. The pens for the babies were separated by age so it was very important that we gave the baby back to the person in the pen we had taken the goat from!
Our last stop was the hayloft where we got to taste some of the cheeses. On our way there, we stopped and looked at the rooms where they make the cheese (it was all cleaned & sanitized so we just looked through windows) and learned about the process.
In the hayloft, there was a long table with one special chair at the head. Of course, Kate & Ben both had to sit there. Ben also found his name carved into the end of the table. He assured anyone who would listen that he had not done that – it turns out “Ben” is one of the Harley’s sons!
Our kids love cheese, but I wasn’t sure they had ever tried goat cheese and if they’d even like it since it does have a distinct taste. They were happy to try it and the hands-down favorite in our group was this one with cranberries and walnuts. They even asked if we could buy more in the cheese shop to take home!
Even our most discerning eater was a fan!
After the tour we headed south to eat lunch at the Highway 1 Brewing Company. I had checked out their hours and menu the night before and it looked great, but when we got there it was all closed up. We turned around and went back to downtown Pescadero to eat at Duarte’s (a favorite) and then went across the street so I could get a coffee at Downtown Local. They had this cool motorcycle in the window and a lot of vintage finds. We walked away with a coffee and a vintage Hot Wheels car.
Our plan had been to stop at Bean Hollow Beach on our way back from lunch at the Highway 1 Brewing Company, but because we had to backtrack to Duarte’s we had already passed it and I wasn’t thrilled about driving back again. The kids said they were tired so we all agreed to just head home. However, on our way back we passed beach after beach, and when we came upon San Gregorio State Beach they all begged if we could stop. So we did.
They were immediately drawn to this stick fort. They set up camp here and played on drum sets they made out of stumps, wood & sticks they collected. My ears & I sat a safe distance away, but this kept them entertained for quite some time.
This river of water is usually just a stream, but because of all the rain runoff it was massive! It was moving pretty quickly and had cut a large gorge into the beach. The sand bank where the kids are standing was really not very stable and I was concerned the sand below them just might collapse and in they’d go.
I finally got them to leave the beach with their feet dragging. We were all so happy we had decided to stop. On the way back home they asked if we could make it a point to stop at all the beaches along the way. I promised that, yes, over time we will make sure to check out all the beaches along Highway 1!