For the Love of Cheese Part 1: Beltane Farm

Jean Sandhofer

Most teens in high school long to get a car. Not Paul Trubey; he wanted a goat. His unique infatuation began in high school when one of his teachers was given a goat. Understandably, his parents wouldn’t let him get one.  Since then, Paul found every goat worthy of affection. 

Paul pursued a career in social work but never abandoned his intense passion for goats. When he and his partner Mark moved to Glastonbury, Connecticut for Mark’s work in 1994, Paul did not know at the time how much the move would propel him towards his goal of being a goat farmer.  In Glastonbury, Paul became involved with the owners of Highwater Farm and in the care of their herd of Swiss Oberhasli dairy goats.  In his free time, he immersed himself in learning about cheese making and in visiting artisanal cheese makers throughout New England.  Little by little, Paul’s trajectory was being set.  In 2002, Highwater Farm’s operations moved to the Bigelow family farm that was established in 1835 in Lebanon, Connecticut.  Paul renamed the farm Beltane to honor the May Day celebrations of Celtic Europe.   

At Beltane Farm, Paul cares for thirty goats of four different breeds—Oberhasli, Nubian, LeMancha and Saanen.  Each breed has a distinct personality, and each goat is unique in its own way.  “Princess is sweet but pushy,” he explained, “And Persephone is patient.  Violet is more playful than the others.”  Nor should a visitor ignore the charms asserted by Clarisse, Melba, Milagro, Veronica and others.  A sign marks the grave of Mattie, Paul’s “oldest and wisest of goats,” who died in 2009.  “She was my muse,” Paul reminisced, “I learned how to milk on Mattie.” 

Twelve of Paul’s goats and 120 goats from a nearby partner farm yield about 85 gallons of milk each day during peak season and is used to produce about 68 pounds of cheese daily.  Paul has a raw milk license, and in addition to selling raw goat’s milk, Beltane Farm produces and sells Greek-style goat’s milk yogurt and half a dozen cheeses.   

Beltane Farm’s award-winning Chevre is their most popular cheese and can be purchased plain or rolled in herbes de Provence, black pepper, chives or dill.  Batches of fresh Greek-style Feta are produced by hanging bags of curd to drip overnight before being salted and packaged for sale.  Danse de la Lune is a cheese with a Brie-like rind that is ripened for ten to twelve days.  Harvest Moon is a hard, nutty-flavored Spanish-style cheese that is aged for two months.  Beltane’s Vespers is a ripened French-style cheese with a line of ash or herbes de Provence, a method that is used traditionally to divide the morning milk from the evening milk. 

Fans of locally produced foods as well as those who believe in treating animals with dignity will find additional incentive to enjoy Beltane Farm’s cheeses.  “Fundamentally, my passion for cheese making is an extension of my passion for the animals,” Paul explained.  “It’s a way to sustain my care for them.  You get a lot in return from the goats.”  As do those who are fortunate enough to meet Paul Trubey and his well-loved goats, cows, donkeys and dogs.

Beltane Farm cheeses, milk and yogurt are often sold at Ancona’s Market in Ridgefield, Whole Foods in Westport and at the Greenwich and Westport Farmers’ Markets.  For more information, visit www.beltanefarm.com or find them on Facebook. 

Beltane Farm is located at 59 Taylor Bridge Road in Lebanon CT. 

[Photography courtesy of Christina Venturini / Blue Pear Photography]