Grace Harbor Farms now grade A certified
Grace Lukens has always loved animals, especially horses, but she never knew anything about goats. When she was little, Grace said that she had a fantasy of opening up the top of her school desk and having a whole ranch of white miniature horses inside. Years later, Grace�s dream has been realized in a way she never expected.
�I thought it was little horses, but maybe it was goats,� she said.
Grace and her husband Tim Lukens now own Grace Harbor Farms, which as of June 2 is one of only two licensed Grade A goat dairy farms north of Seattle. The farm originally began as a way to prepare for the expected Y2K disaster. Like so many other people, the Lukens had begun stocking up on food, and had planted their own garden.
Tim said his wife came home one day and suggested they get a goat to provide them with their own dairy products. He shrugged at the idea at first and told Grace she could do what she wanted.
Although Tim had grown up on a dairy farm, and Grace had always loved animals and had been raised around horses, neither one of them knew anything about goats. Still, they decided to give them a try, and started out by purchasing three Sannen goats, a Swiss breed known for their dairy production and friendly manner.
�They�re very intelligent and they have unique personalities,� Tim said.
After the year came and passed and there were no major disasters, the Lukens found that they enjoyed the products they were able to make from the goat�s milk, and that their new animals were like pets.
�We�d found these little animals that were just great,� Tim said. Three years ago, the Lukens began producing natural goat�s milk soaps, and after many requests and a lot of testing, Grace came up with a recipe to make a completely natural goat�s milk lotion.
Grace said she is able to keep her products natural by using grapefruit seed extract as a preservative and the popularity of the products has been excellent.
�We were amazed, it wasn�t anything we�d anticipated,� Grace said. �It took off and it just did well.�
They began selling the Grace Harbor products at a kiosk in the Bellis Fair mall, and gained many customers because of it. When they decided to close the kiosk in March of this year, Tim said he was a little worried that they would lose customers.
�We�re thankful it has the following it has,� Tim said. �I thought what if they either can�t find us or won�t find us.�
Grace said that because goat�s milk is so gentle, it is actually nourishing for the skin.
Tim said they had seen their products help people with skin problems such as rosacea and he thinks he knows why.
�Your skin is the largest organ on your body and a little bit of whatever touches it is absorbed,� Tim said. �The result of good nutrition is good health.�
The Lukens had wanted to produce dairy products to sell also, but in order to become a certified dairy, on such a small scale, there were many structural and production changes they had to make.
On June 2, Grace Harbor Farms received their dairy license and became a certified grade A dairy and began selling feta, chevre, and gouda goat cheeses.
Because the farm only has 17 goats which are currently milking, and each goat can only produce about a gallon of milk a day, Tim said they are not yet able to sell milk, but hope to be able to in the future.
Although Tim said goat�s milk is as nutritious if not better than cow�s milk, he said the debate between the two is mostly over personal preference.
Goat�s milk, which does not have to be homogenized, contains fat globules that are at least three to four times smaller than those found in cow�s milk, so goat�s milk is easier for people to digest. If the milk is processed right, and the goats are eating the right kind of food, Tim said that goat�s milk should never have the odd taste or odor it is often associated with.
�Goat�s milk is like fish,� Tim said. �If it tastes bad or smells bad, it�s gone bad.�
Goat�s milk is sometimes an option for people who have allergies to regular dairy products, but Tim laughs when people ask him if it�s low or non-fat.
�It�s definitely whole milk and it�s not low-fat,� Tim said.
Because of their new expansion, Tim and Grace said they are busier than ever, working 16 hour days most of the time.
�We milk the goats to make the cheese to buy the bread to get the strength to milk the goats,� Tim joked.
Still, they said that they feel blessed and are happy with what they do, and they see their goats as more than just milk producing machines.
�Machines don�t love you like this,� Tim said smiling as one of the goats nuzzled his face.
Grace Harbor Farms is located at 5157 Drayton Harbor Road in Blaine and are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6p.m. For more information call 371-9060.