FROM beginnings as a family dairy to regulars at the Salamanca Markets, Touchwood Farm are bringing some fresh ideas and fresh breeds to Tasmania.
Out of a dairy, workshop and storefront on their property, Sonia and David Thomasson have perfected their craft of producing natural soaps, based around their goats milk.
Eighteen years ago they picked up three dairy goats, the plan being to hand milk them to supply the family with milk and to clear scrub on their property just south of Strathblane. In the decades since, as the family has grown, so too has the goat herd and the purpose of their dairy.
Touchwood Farm operates with a few breeds throughout their herd that all bring something different to the production line. Saanen goats produce a large amount of milk with a lower fat content, their Nubian goats produce a much higher fat milk, which is great for cheese and their soaps, but Touchwood are particularly proud of their LaManchas breed.
“LaManchas have only been in Australia for about five years but they are going to be the future for us, they’re really hardy and they produce a lot of milk,” Ms Thomasson said.
Alongside their milking does, three bucks wander the herd and are certainly intent on playing a large part of the future of the herd.“ We have had two Nubian bucks and a LaMancha buck imported to the farm, which we plan to breed from, everything that is born is going back in to the farm, we plan on keeping all LaMancha Bucks, and all the does we get,” Mr Thomasson said.
The process of milking the goats is fairly streamlined, though by the admission of Sonia and David, it is made easier by their tame milkers. Every morning they milk a rotation of does in their small, efficient dairy, the goats themselves certainly playing their part in the speedy process.
“We don’t usually start milking until at least 8 o’clock, except for a Saturday, where we have a timer that starts a floodlight at around 4 o’clock,” Mr Thomasson said.
“The goats see the lights, know they’re getting an early breakfast and make their way down to the dairy shed, and we can have them milked before we head to the markets.”
“Once they get in a routine, it’s very simple, it’s almost as if they know the days of the week,” Ms Thomasson.
Three-at-a-time, the goats enter the dairy, climb on to their ‘favourite’ platform and wait for the Thomasson’s to do their thing. The process is typically a once-per-day operation, the goats sharing their milk between their kids and the dairy, but will still produce between three and five litres of milk per day.
As for the soap making operations of Touchwood Farm, the process remains as close to home and as natural as possible. “30% Goats milk, olive oil and coconut oil are the base of our soaps, we don’t add anything else like nut butters because too many people could be allergic,” Ms Thomasson said.
Touchwood Farm sell their soaps, balms and creams at the Salamanca Markets every Saturday, and are now beginning to expand their produce offerings in to a more culinary direction.
“We have just branched into our first food-based goat dairy item, a Mexican styled caramel sauce called Cajeta, which we will have at our market stall,” Ms Thomasson said