Skamokawa Farmstead and Creamery
Have you ever wanted to bottle feed a baby goat? Learn how artisan cheese is made? Show your kiddos the connection between the food we eat, and where it comes from? Yes? Road trip! Grab your muck boots and rain gear (because you never know in the PNW), and head out to the Skamokawa Farmstead and Creamery. Nestled in the picturesque town of Skamokawa, which is located on the Columbia River, just off of SR-4, the farmstead is a hidden gem on Washington’s West Coast. With the mission statement, “Happy goats make happy cheese,” Skamokawa Farmstead and Creamery strives to be an example of ethical and sustainable farming practices.
The Goat Barn
Our first stop, the goat barn. Smelling of earth and hay, the goat barn was open to the fresh air and sunlight. Here, adult females mulled about, snacking on grains and occasionally head-butting one another. Vickie opened the gate and quickly plucked out the cutest, seriously c-u-t-e, little goat out of the herd. Proudly, she presented her for petting, and explained how it all started with rescue animals. “I just wanted to help abused farm animals,” Vickie exclaimed. A construction worker by trade, with no previous farming experience, Vickie moved to Washington State to care for her aging parents. It was during this time that she and her partner decided to purchase the farmstead and create a place where abused and neglected animals could heal and thrive.
Visiting a Farmstead
The farmstead is absolutely teeming with fuzzy and feathery critters, many of which can be found roaming freely around. Our greeter was a gorgeous black and white horse named “Dually,” who was quickly followed by three rescue donkeys whose small stature and size seemed befitting of the movie “The Hobbit.” Waiting for us at the main barn, owner and caretaker, Vickie Allenbeck, warmly welcomed us and offered my family a tour. She is a charismatic storyteller, who enjoys sharing her beliefs around ethical farming and commitment to community.
“Have you ever tried our cheese? Or our top-rated Caramel?” Vickie inquired devilishly. It is no secret among my family and close friends that I am very fond of cheese. Truth be told, I have tried their cheese, and it was delicious. Vickie explained that tasty cheese comes from happy goats. But what makes a goat happy? Well, kindness for one. A good scratch behind the ear brings a happy bleat. How about a break from working? Unlike most commercial farms, Vickie and her team of dedicated staff give the goats a break from producing milk. They get a chance to rest, play and feel loved. The result? A longer happier life for the animal, and a higher-quality product that they get to share with us. Win-win! You know what else was a win? Watching my children’s facial expressions change as they connected the typically invisible line between farming and the food we eat. Responsible, holistic and ethical farming is a topic that is celebrated on the farmstead. Approach any friendly employee and they will be happy to share their mission and passion.
As if frolicking with the chickens, alpacas, goats, horses, donkeys and farm kitties wasn’t enough, be sure to request a tour of the creamery to watch and learn how they create their delicious cheese. The creamery produces numerous goat milk products including Feta, butter and several varieties of Chévre, including one named “Zues,” which is prosciutto, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and peppers added to their classic recipe. Vickie informed me that they are currently remodeling the creamery and adding a cheese and gift shop. The hope is to attract more visitors, and to continue to raise awareness around the value of small, niche farming. Insider Tip: Vickie tells me her cheese and caramels freeze beautifully. You know, for the upcoming holiday parties or for that future late-night snack-attack. (No judgement here!)
While in Skamokawa
If you aren’t too exhausted by your farm experience, be sure to jaunt a little farther down SR-4 to Vista Park. There are plenty of free day-use picnic areas, where you can sit near the beach on the glorious Columbia River (you can even make a campfire.) Fall is an amazing time to visit this part of Washington — the foliage is breathtaking. This part of the Columbia is also a popular fishing ground for majestic bald eagles, and we were treated to an incredible aerial show while munching on farm cheese and crackers. Happy goats, delicious cheese and bald eagles — oh my! A perfect end to our wonderful day at the farmstead and creamery.