Hi. My name is Aafke van der Zalm Parker, or Aafke Parker for short. In 2006 I moved to Spring City, Tn after I retired from my job in Georgia. I was born and raised in The Netherlands, and we moved to the United States in 1963. Over the years I have worked at a number of cow dairy farms and learned a lot about the dairy business. From several dairies I also learned what not to do.
When I retired from my job working for a large animal veterinarian, I found a 30 acre farm in Rhea County, Tn. There is a large barn on the property (it used to be a horse boarding facility) which I partially converted for the goats and dairy. For the first four months I lived in the barn with the horses and goats until the house was ready. No heat, no running water, but there was a privy. As luck would have it I moved up here in March and boy was it cold for a couple of months, or at least it felt like it. I also share the farm with a Great Pyrenees, who is no guard dog (she plays with the coyotes!), several smaller house dogs, a couple of barn cats, and a bunch of chickens. The only thing missing is the partridge in the pear tree.
My goats are all Saanens, although a few of them have some Nubian blood several generations back. I have American Saanens, a few Recorded Grades, and a couple of Experimentals (The Nubian mixes). From the beginning, my herd has been tested for CAE every year, I also test for Johne’s. The herd is CL clear, and has been Brucellosis free Certified and Tuberculosis free Accredited since 2001. In 2000 I signed up for the USDA Voluntary Scrapie Program and have been Certified Scrapie Free since 2005. The farm has achieved the Scrapie Export Certified Status . The milkers have been on DHIA milk test almost every year, and have been Linear Appraised by the American Dairy Goat Association for several years.
When I am not at the barn doing the caretaking, cleaning, grooming, mucking stalls, etc., I make a lot of cheese and butter. I like to make the soft cheeses, but the hard cheeses and butter seem to be my specialties. My friends and family members rave about the Cheddar cheeses I make. I also make a Dutch cheese called Leyden, which is a particular favorite of my mother’s. I also make Pepperjack (with jalapeno peppers) and Gouda Cheeses. It seems so magical to me that you can take the same milk, cultures, and rennet and make so many different cheeses. Making cheese and butter is always an adventure and I never get tired of it.
In 2012 a friend of mine and I started making Goat Milk Soaps, Lotions, and Body Butters. It is a growing business, and we go to a lot of craft shows to sell our wares. Our inventory keeps expanding and we have been getting very positive feedback from our customers. Check out our goat milk soap page for more details.