Goat farming a successful dream for local family

news@lakewyliepilot.comSeptember 5, 2013 

— There’s a dairy farm in Clover producing something unique to York County.

At Thomas Family Farms, it’s all about goat milk.

Lynda and Michael Thomas, along with their two children, Lindsey, 26, and Jeron, 21, have been running the only Grade A goat dairy in York County since 2011.

Along with raw goat milk, they sell goat milk products including butter, cheese spreads, cheesecakes, jams and fudge. They even have a skin care line.

Along with selling products at the farm, Thomas Family Farms products are sold at South Forty Farms in Lake Wylie, Organic Marketplace in Gastonia, The Neighborhood Tomato in Newport, and Time Flies in Mount Holly, N.C., as well as farmers markets in Gastonia, Belmont, Rock Hill, and soon Fort Mill.

“They all sell good, but the cheesecakes, the candy [fudge], and the milk, then the cheeses. That’s the order,” said Tim Reid, owner of South Forty Farms on Highway 274. “Goat products are good for you. There’s less fat and a lot of people are allergic to [cow] milk. We have a lot of customers now that that’s what they come to get.”

Lynda, an accountant, and Michael, who works for Duke Energy, decided to turn their Kingsburry Road farmhouse and 8 acres into a small business. While reading several books and visiting other farms, they tried raising goats. It “just stuck,” Lynda said.

In two years, they’ve gone from two goats to 26. They’ve outgrown their barn. They run out of milk every week and have customers calling at 6 a.m. asking for it.

“We expected the business to take longer to grow,” Lynda said. “Running [a business] out of a place you live means creating boundaries. It can be a challenge to shut off business hours and switch to personal hours.”

A typical day on the farm, starts at 8 a.m., Jeron said.

“Milk the goats until 10, give the goats hay and grain, do repairs if needed, buy more hay and grain if needed, make and package the cheese, feed the goats in the evening,” he said, “then sit back and take a break before heading to bed and getting up the next morning to do it all over again.”

The joke among the family is Sunday is a day of rest ... sometimes.

“The hours are sometimes rough,” Lindsey said. “It depends on what you have to do that day. Sometimes you can go from early morning to late into the evening.

“Since we started the business, vacation time is hard to come by,” she said.

They also end up doing things they never expected, like helping goats have kids and chasing runaways, as Jeron did in gym shorts, in February, more than a mile through woods.

“We do illegal goat racing,” Lindsey joked.

The Thomas Family Farms is located at 2981 Kingsburry Road. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. For more information, call 803-831-7752 or visit thomasfamilyfarmsc.com.

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