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Wayside Acres Goat Dairy-2013

PERRY COUNTY: Goat Dairy and Cheese-making
Gwen Soult taking about the kids.

Gwen Soult taking about the kids.

Wayside Acres is a goat dairy outside Newport, PA (Perry County). They have a herd of Nubian, LaMancha, Apline and Saanen goats. Cathy Soult and her husband purchased this farm in 1975. They raised cattle and sheep and had off-farm jobs at that time. In 1978, Cathy’s husband went down to a bar to pick-up a 6-pack for some friends who were dropping by. He came home with a goat and a dog house that he had traded for that 6-pack and thus “6-pack” the goat had a new home. The Soults slowly became the home for many an unwanted goat in the area. The goats were used to clean-up the multi-flora rose, poison ivy, sumac and other unwanted brush. By the early 1990s, Cathy began to take the babies off their mothers and bottle feed them. She also began to breed the goats and started a registered herd. This is when the milking herd was started and a new business enterprise was begun. When Cathy’s husband died, Cathy wanted to be able to keep the farm for her then ten year old daughter, Gwen.  Mother and daughter have since been able to build the herd and milk production to a level that Cathy was able to quit her off-farm job and they both work full-time on the farm. They usually hire local folks to help as well. In 2006, they built a new milking parlor with a cheese room. In the following years they began bottling raw milk and making Chevre and Feta cheese. They sell their products at farmers markets and the health food store in Newport. Gwen is now back on the farm after having left for college and a masters degree. She has taken on the cheese-making challenge. She just completed a cheese-making course in England. Cathy likes to milk the goats and tries to keep this part of the business as her specialty. The Soults maintain a raw milk license even though the cost for this is high because their customers want raw milk. They also sell does and breeding stock. The Soults will also occasionally show their goats when time allows. They have many award winners in the herd. 

 

This goat operation is definitely an act of love. Both Cathy and Gwen love what they do and definitely the animals. There are even a couple who have earned the right to live out their lives on the farm even though they no longer milked. The Soults have built their slowly and to a level they can handle. Cathy’s strongest piece of advice is start small and don’t get buried in debt or more work than you can handle. You can check out their products and store hours at their website www.waysideacres.com.