Gaston goat farm starts birthing season off with a bang

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Scott and Summer Catino, who both work for the Gaston School District, also run a small creamery. Flora had five kids last week.

Scott and Summer Catino — owners of seven-year-old Flora, a Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat — were shocked to find the new herd of babies following behind one of their tried-and-true breeding animals.

“It’s not unheard of, but it’s definitely very rare for a mother to have this many,” said Summer Catino, who pulls back the covers at 5:30 every morning — rain or shine — to milk 30 goats.

It’s even more unusual all five turned out to be healthy and strong, and that Flora can care for all of them without assistance.

Flora’s kids are just five of about 100 the Catinos will welcome to their farm this year. At Quail Run Hollow, the couple composts goat manure to put on the garden patch, which yields thousands of pounds of squash they eat and feed to their animals.

The Catinos are constantly improving their dairy herd, testing once a month for milk volume and quality, fats and proteins. They keep the superior milking animals and sell the rest to folks looking for pets — or to start their own milking herd.

The Catinos like the Nigerian Dwarf goats for their playful, amiable personalities — each one has their own, they claim.

“They’re like a cross between a dog and a farm animal,” Scott said as the few-weeks-old babies next to Flora’s pen rush to the fence when he approaches, waiting for head scratches and treats. “They’re just so entertaining.”by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Mama goat Flora is diligently caring for all five of the kids she birthed last week. A goat her size produces about a quart of milk a day.

The Catinos also chose them for their milk, which has a high butterfat content — making up for the slighter production accompanying smaller animals — without that “goat-y tang,” Scott said.

It’s that unique milk that helped the Catinos win second place for their “little goat feta” cheese at the 2013 American Cheese Society’s national competition in Wisconsin.

Summer does the milking and Scott runs Quail Run Creamery, making their increasingly popular feta, mozzarella and chevre.

“Scott has the precision for cheese-making I lack,” Summer said.

“If you’re two degrees off, you get a completely different cheese,” said Scott, who estimates making one batch takes him about five to eight hours before he hangs it to age for a few days. “The flavor characteristics are really complex. It’s an art and a science.”

Scott’s favorite part of co-owning the creamery is working with local restaurants, including 1910 Main in Forest Grove and One Horse Tavern in Gaston. His cheese was also featured on a McMenamins Grand Lodge salad last year.

“Being a small establishment, we can customize our cheese for people,” Scott said. “Some people like their cheese a little wetter, some like it a little drier.”

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Summer Catino delivered about 22 babies in the early February snow storm this year, but their cute faces make the struggles worth it to her. They also sell to local wineries, Angel Food Candy in Newberg and a few customers who use the milk to make soap. Quail Run Creamery cheeses can also be purchased at Gaston Market, 222 Front St. in Gaston.

Despite the increasing demand for their product, the Catinos said they’re going to stay small. They’ve even turned down orders from Portland, but Scott said he’s always looking to sell to more restaurants in the area.

“We want to stay local and support local people,” he said.

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