Day 26 of my “30 Days of MN Agriculture” is Laura Kieser of Four Season Farms. Laura is from Jordan, near Minneapolis. Four Season Farms raises dairy goats. In addition to raising dairy goats, Laura also works for AgStar.
Please be sure to check out the recipe at the end. Quite a few years ago, I visited Mexico and one of the treats I enjoyed was Cajeta sauce – or Mexican caramel sauce. It was very good!
Social Media Sites:
Facebook: Four Seasons Farm
Website: Four Seasons Farm
Tell me a little about your farm and/or business?
My husband Chris and I raise, show, and sell registered Saanen and Nubian dairy goats under the herd name “FSF” which stands for Four Seasons Farm. We are located close to the beautiful MN River. We are members of the MN Dairy Goat Association, American Dairy Goat Association and Farm Bureau. I also work for AgStar Financial Services as a Product Manager and Chris is a Special Projects Engineer with Element Technologies in Bloomington, MN.
How long have you farmed or been in business?
We have had this joint venture as FSF since 2004. Although Laura has had agriculture, dairy and dairy goats in her life since the day she was born. Laura grew up on a dairy farm in Upstate New York, involved in every area of the business from bookwork to milking, breeding and field work. As a teenager, Laura wanted to show cattle, and her dad was unsure about that. Not one to back down, she partnered with Heifer Project and was able to start her own dairy goat herd. Chris had limited agriculture experience before meeting Laura, although his extended family has deep roots in West Central MN. Being a quick study and a problem solver, Chris has become equally knowledgeable.
Tell me a little about what you grown/raise/produce or service provided.
We raise, sell, and show Saanen and Nubian dairy goats. We are very active showing our goats around MN and some in WI. We have shown at a National level a few times. In addition, we participate in DHIA milk testing for our goats, taking advantage of the proven level of production of our herd over generations. We also participate in the linear appraisal program, which is similar to classification in dairy cattle. This helps us evaluate each animal and impact of breeding decisions over time.
Where do you sell or provide services to? Who is your end consumer?
Our end customer is usually someone looking to add a highly productive member to their herd. Some are first-time buyers, many are return buyers after valuing the production and longevity of our animals in their herd. Some purchase bucks to bring genetics into their herd over many years, others are looking for a family milker or 4H project for youth. In addition to selling to other people, we also spend alot of time educating others about dairy goats and agriculture. We have participated in many open house events in communities around us. We also value time spent with family and friends at the farm, always having a teachable moment.
What is one interesting fact about your farm/crops/livestock/business you would like to share.
We have had 3 consecutive Junior Champion Saanen does at the MN State Fair from 2013 through 2015, and followed that in 2016, that first Junior Champion became our first Senior Champion at the MN State Fair. We exported our first animal to Puerto Rico this year! An amazing experience, and we are so honored that this buyer put so much trust in our genetics.
What do you love most about farming/business?
I love the dairy industry, and dairy goats specifically. There is no other animal with so much personality, intelligence, or humor. I have had dairy goats in my blood since a 4-H project that turned into a business, then came back into my life as an adult. They are my therapy!
What is one thing you wish consumers knew about what you do or your farm/business?
Just because we love having people come to the farm, and we are a small farm, that does not mean we have an open door policy. There is a lot of work to be done to have the farm in order and looking as nicely as it does when people come through. Please respect our time as well as yours. We may be a small farm, but we are still a business trying to cover our costs, and a couple who works hard and needs sleep (especially during kidding season!)
What is one thing no one knows about your farm/business/product that you would like to share?
We are not licensed to sell milk commercially or sell product (cheese, milk, etc.) to the public.Our main focus in on animal husbandry, genetics, and a high level of management so that the animals can succeed and reach their highest potential.
What makes Minnesota the place to farm/grow/raise/produce/service?
MN and the Midwest are the center of the US and therefore serve as a bit of a hub in the way of high quality feed and forages, resources and research, as well as other breeders to network with.
What is your favorite Minnesota location?
One of my favorite MN locations has to be the MN Science Museum. First of all, Chris and I had our first date there when we met. Since then we have found great value in a membership and being able to take in new exhibits and spend time there when farm related items allow us to get out for an afternoon. It’s a nice day out.
Cajeta Sauce - Mexican Caramel Sauce
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup canned evaporated goat's milk or whole fresh goat's milk
- In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the pan occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, boil the mixture, swirling occasionally (do not stir), until it has a medium amber color and honey-like consistency. (If the mixture seems to be browning too fast, lower heat to medium.) Remove pan from heat and stir in butter and salt. Slowly pour in goat's milk (mixture will bubble furiously) and stir until smooth. Let the cajeta cool slightly before serving.