Surfing Goat Dairy
As you weave your way out of the sugarcane fields lining the slopes of Maui's Haleakala volcano, you come upon the lush green pastures of the Surfing Goat Dairy, Hawaii's only award-winning caprine operation.
Owned and operated by German expatriates Thomas and Eva Kafsack, Surfing Goat Dairy represents one of only two goat dairies in the state. It is located on 42 acres with almost two-thirds dedicated as pasture, giving the Dairy's three bucks and over 100 does plenty of space to roam and forage. Found on the leeward side of the mountain, the Dairy is protected from Hawaii's perennial trade winds, which comes as both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, the goats enjoy the resulting dry climate, with only an occasional winter rain storm; on the other hand, the costs for underground irrigation to maintain the grass on 25 acres of pasture can be substantial, especially during the summer. The pasture land of Buffel and Kikuyu grass is mainly divided into four large plots-one night pasture with cozy shelters and one day pasture for each of their two herds-while several smaller parcels house bucks, kids, or does during their dry period. All the pastures are equipped with salt blocks and automatic waterers, which, as the Kafsacks learned quickly, save both time and water compared to water buckets. Looking for a new twist in their lives, the Kafsacks decided 12 years ago to move to Hawaii and practice the art of gourmet cheese production, a far cry from their previous occupations of leading a software company or teaching high school German. While Thomas went to work on the financial planning, Eva set out to learn the craft and secrets of cheese-making from Europe's best. Working at and visiting dairies throughout Germany, Austria, and France allowed her to develop a mental image of the type of dairy that she wanted to run and cheeses she wanted to produce. An image that the two of them made reality over the past ten years.
After finding a nearly ideal plot of land on Maui, they turned 42 acres of brush land into verdant pastures with a spacious 10-stall barn for boarding horses and a 100-square-foot dairy, built completely to grade-A standards. "The dairy with its three working rooms (Milk Room, Ripening Room, Cheese Room) together with the adjacent retail shop, works perfectly for us," Eva says. "No long distances to cover and everything is close at hand." They brought with them a 12-slot automated milking and sanitizing system by Westphalia, as well as two 150-liter pasteurizers by Labor Buchrucker, an Austrian company, to form the technical backbone of the dairy. "Pasteurizers for our needs were impossible to find over here, but Labor Buchrucker was able to modify their products to meet U.S. federal and state requirements, such as air heating coils and additional thermometer slots. "The remainder of the equipment, particularly ripening refrigerators, they were able to find on the island by converting restaurant surplus equipment." Though Thomas sighs that "with an investment of over $500,000 it'll probably take our lifetimes to pay off. Maui turned out to be quite expensive.
Surfing Goat Dairy is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media