The Stone Creek Farmstead is located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado at 9100 ft. elevation. Our roots were in the rural Midwest, so when we found ourselves living high in the mountains we began to explore what kind of farming we could do at this altitude. While reading about the history of the area, we discovered that potatoes had been a cash crop in the early 1900’s. So began our high altitude, farmsteading adventure.
The first season produced beautiful, yellow Yukon Gold potatoes that were delicious. We quickly discovered that we had to coexist with the populations of mule deer, elk and bear so plants that don’t appeal to them are our focus. Wildflowers are abundant here in the summer months so it was natural that we also began to keep bees.
What’s a farm without chickens? We raise Silver Laced Wyandottes, an American heritage breed that are good layers and well adapted to high altitude and cool temperatures. And chicken compost is excellent for the potato field and any other organic fertilizing needs. Raising chickens is easy and fresh eggs really are amazing!
The next addition was goats, as a way to help with grass and weed control. We started with three Oberhaslis, a Swiss breed that is well adapted to alpine climates and terrain. They are great weed eaters but also are affectionate, innocent, lovable and hilarious. They spend their days climbing on rocks, exploring the forest and play-fighting. The Latin word for goat is capra, which is the root of the word capricious, an apt description of their behavior. We laugh out loud on a daily basis at their random, inexplicable antics. Our two German Shepherds instinctively tried to herd the goats for awhile but soon gave up and joined us in simply watching with bemusement.
Having fallen in love with the little guys we added two does to the herd and a season later we were milking. Goats milk has about the same fat content as cows milk, but the molecular structure is such that goats milk is more digestible which is why it is favored by people who are lactose intolerant. This characteristic is also what gives goat milk soap its creamy, moisturizing lather. Also, over the centuries, goats milk has proven to be especially well suited to the production of French style soft and semi-soft cheeses such as brie, san mauer, bloomy blues and crottin. We do make several hard cheeses as well, including apple smoked gouda and cheddar.
We are now making our artisanal soaps and cheeses available and we hope you’ll enjoy them! We’re also offering classes in soap and cheese making, as well as other sustainable living skills. So if you’re in the area and want to learn about farmsteading, we’d love to have you spend some time with us. They call learning about the farm to table lifestyle “agritourism”… here we call it stopping by for a visit.