Connemara Farms

Black and white photo of Mrs. Sandburg standing in front of barn surrounded by 8 adult dairy goats

Photo by June Glenn, Jr


Internationally renowned as a goat breeder, Lilian “Paula” Sandburg was one of the outstanding pioneers of the American dairy goat industry. While her husband dedicated himself to a long literary career, Mrs. Sandburg enthusiastically pursued an ambition to raise and breed champion dairy goats. Her pursuit brought the family to Flat Rock, North Carolina in 1945, where she and their youngest daughter Helga established the Connemara Farms Goat Dairy. The family lived and worked in this tranquil, pastoral setting for 22 years, until Carl Sandburg’s death in 1967.

The production and sale of milk were secondary to Mrs. Sandburg, whose fundamental goal in raising dairy goats was the development of champion milk-producing stock. Through her scientific breeding methods she produced many champion animals and helped modernize the dairy goat industry, increasing its acceptance as a legitimate form of farming. The industry recognized her leadership in 1961:

To Mrs. Sandburg, in grateful recognition of your many years of service and devotion to the dairy goat industry, which have resulted not only in better dairy goats with higher production, but also in the development of the finest possible public relations program within the industry... We honor you, Mrs. Sandburg, as one of our outstanding breeders, whose leadership in the industry is unsurpassed.
 
Toggenburg dairy goat, light brown body with white ears and legs, standing in barnyard, with colorful fall leaves on ground.
Toggenburg dairy goat at Connemara Farms

Connemara Farms Today


Visitors to Connemara Farms can see dairy goats that are descended from Mrs. Sandburg's famous herd. She raised three breeds of dairy goats; Saanen, Toggenburg, and Nubian. Each breed can be seen in the herd today.

Toggenburgs: Toggenburgs were the first purebred goats in the Chikaming herd. This breed originated in the Toggenburg Valley of Switzerland. Toggenburgs are a brown color with distinctive white stripes on their face and legs. They were the first purebred dairy goats brought to America, with the first ones arriving as early as 1893.Toggenburgs were the most famous Chikaming breed. Mrs. Sandburg admired Toggenburgs the most as they were the breed that achieved the highest production records in her herd. Chikaming Toggenburgs were outstanding in both production and in the show ring.
 
Nubian dairy goat with a brown body and long white ears stands in the doorway of the barn.
Nubian dairy goat at Connemara Farms
Nubians: Of the three breeds in the Chikaming herd, Nubians were the Sandburg family’s favorite breed. The Nubian breed is distinguished by long, drooping ears; a convex nose; and a variety of color patterns. The Nubian is a relatively large, proud, and graceful dairy goat of mixed Asian, African, and European origin, known for high quality, high butterfat, milk production. Mrs. Sandburg once wrote “Somehow their faces seem more expressive than those of any other breed. I find the Nubian nose and ears very picturesque”. Mrs. Sandburg and her family truly enjoyed the taste of the Nubian milk, which is high in butterfat. The Sandburg’s bought their first Nubian doe in 1936, the second breed of goats added to their herd. This breed was added as an experiment and Mrs. Sandburg was very impressed by the breed. By 1941, just 5 years after purchasing her first Nubian, she decided to keep equal numbers of Nubians and Toggenburgs in her herd. This breed gives lower quantities of milk than the Swiss breeds, but she felt that the good flavor of Nubian milk could help overcome public prejudice against goat milk. She considered four quarts of Nubian milk, with its higher butterfat content, equal to five quarts of milk from the Swiss breeds. The Nubian breed was less than 50 years old when Mrs. Sandburg added them to her herd, so adding them to the herd was a risk. By the time the herd was dispersed, the Chikaming herd was considered one of the foundation herds for the Nubian breed in the United States.
 
A Saanen adult and Saanen kid, both all white, sit on the ground relaxing in the sun.
Saanen adult and kid dairy goats at Connemara Farms
Saanens: One of the first breeds imported to America, Saanens are a pure white breed of goat from the Saanen Valley of Switzerland. Mrs. Sandburg added this breed once they moved to Flat Rock, NC. This third and final breed of dairy goat was added to the Chikaming herd in 1946. Mrs. Sandburg was the only purebred Saanen herd within 300 miles. She wrote “I intended to keep just a few Saanens because they really show up in the pasture like no other goats, and I want to have the fun of having a few beautiful white angel kids every spring.” Although the Chikaming Saanens were always overshadowed by the fame of the Nubians and Toggenburgs, they were nevertheless an important part of the herd during the dairy years. Evidence shows that Saanens were part of the herd for some of its best years, and that Mrs. Sandburg had an active interest in this breed.
 

Cheesemaking

The Sandburg family enjoyed many of the products made from goat milk. Here are three of Mrs. Sandburg’s cheese recipes, try them at home:

Semi-Soft Brie or Chevre
Equipment:
  • Large pot • Slotted spoon
  • Cheese molds • Cheesecloth
  • Cooling racks
Ingredients:
  • 2 gallons of milk*
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 rennet tablet (or liquid rennet)
Procedure:
Dissolve 1 rennet tablet (or ½ tsp. liquid rennet) in 1 tablespoon water. Heat milk to 80°F in pot, add dissolved rennet, cover and set aside for 4-8 hours to curdle. Use slotted spoon to fill cheese molds** with curds and whey – fill to brim. Add celery, anise, or caraway seeds now if seasoning is desired. Put lids on molds and place on a cake or cooling rack to drain for 3 days. Invert or turn mold over every 12 hours or less. Remove cheese from mold, salt on all sides with regular table salt to prevent molding (scrape off any mold that might occur). Wrap cheese loosely in cheesecloth, place on cooling rack to age in a cool place 60°F. Age cheese for 7-28 days and enjoy!
*When using pasteurized milk (vs. raw) with above recipes, add ½ cup buttermilk per gallon milk.
**Cheese molds can be made from coffee or juice cans, etc. with holes punched on all sides, bottoms, and lids from inside out using a nail or ice pick.

Queso Blanco
Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • ¼ cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
Procedure:
Heat milk directly on burner stirring constantly to 185-190°F. While stirring slowly add vinegar. Turn off heat. Line colander with muslin. Pour curdled milk into cloth. Drain for a few minutes then tie up cloth to drain completely. (Takes several hours.) Remove, place in bowl, and add salt. Refrigerate.

Last updated: October 14, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

81 Carl Sandburg Lane
Flat Rock, NC 28731

Phone:

(828) 693-4178

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