We sat down with Sheila Flanagan, co-founder of Nettle Meadow Farm & Animal Sanctuary, to get the inside scoop on why this Adirondacks cheesemaking destination stands out from the rest.
Was the dual purpose of cheese production and an animal sanctuary always what you had in mind when you first started Nettle Meadow?
Our goal was initially to run a dairy farm humanely and make great cheese, but we quickly realized that the goats that were already here had a variety of health challenges and so it became necessary to retire several of them and so the sanctuary was born. After that, there was looking back. An employee brough a cat who was on the verge of having kittens and then another brought a male calf from her sister’s favorite cow. Then there was the giant racehorse that wasn’t all that fast and the starving famly of mini horses and it just went on and on. As goats and sheep had to retire it became necessary to divide them between basic retirement and assisted living situations and soon the farm was overrun with sanctuary animals.
How does your animal sanctuary and farm stand out from other popular cheese making farms around the country?
For one thing, there is the care of the animals which is above and beyond. For another, we have been around almost two decades and for our size, there are very few companies that are still run as family farm creameries – most creameries of our size and stature appear to have been bought out by larger multinational corporations. Additionally, when we say our cheeses are artisanal, it is entirely true. Everything is hand made and hand poured, hand packed, hand washed, hand turned and hand wrapped. Also, we have a wide range of natural flavor infused cheeses and mixed milk cheeses. Combinations of flavors and milks is our specialty
What would you say is your most popular cheese?
Kunik by far is our most popular cheese, the goat’s milk with jersey cream triple creme that has won multiple national and international awards.
Similarly, are there any animals that are fan-favorites among your visitors?
Foonzie the crazy crazy llama is definitely a fan favorite, as is crabcakes who is a differently abled goat whose front legs have a marked bone deformity that causes him to walk on his knees. Both are excellent examples of critters who might not find a place on another standard farm. Hamilton and Lucy, two rescue pot-belly pigs are hysterical and enjoyable creatures to visit with, and Willard, the rescued barn cat is a wonderful farm ambassador.
If you had to use three words or adjectives to capture the spirit of Nettle Meadow, what would they be?
Caring. Determined. Unconventional.
Want to explore more of the makers we love? Check out our new Murray’s For Makers program to find ways to support your favorite American artisans.