The Chief Milkmaid || Bittersweet

Posted in Blogs, Community, Culinary

December 2, 2015

I’m back at market! It feels so good to get to see everyone again. I think I underestimated how valuable being at the market was to me. Bayview Farmers Holiday Market runs from the Saturday after Thanksgiving until the Saturday before Christmas, and I am back.


Laughing Bellies Toffee with bittersweet chocolate, naturally. (photo by Gerry Betz)

We stopped selling at the market in September. We simply didn’t have enough cheese, with our sabbatical, to make it possible to continue vending. At Holiday Market we bring our world famous Laughing Bellies Toffee.  I won’t bore you with the details of this toffee. If you know it, you know it. If not, well… you have three weeks to remedy that.

I’m especially sorry if you miss it this year because I have a related announcement.

I’ve been trying to find the right venue to make this official. I haven’t been able to pull the words together and here I normally only talk food and recipes and local agriculture. I hope you might forgive me for getting a bit personal here.

The Little Brown Farm dairy is closing.

We may still have a precious few aged cheeses available during the last two holiday markets this year, but we won’t be promising anything.

We will have a few cheeses showing up with local chefs as we empty our cave.

Other than that I will only be making cheese at home, for pleasure, for us.

I’ve been making cheese for over a decade now. I’ve been studying cheesemaking for 12 years. I’ve been milking goats since 2004.  I love it.

I love my goats, I love cheesemaking, I love teaching and learning about dairy animals and processes.


Chief Milkmaid laughing with Velvet Rose. (photo by Audra Mulkern – The Female Farmer Project)

But the farm is closing.

Don’t be sad for me. I am closing the door on a business I love, but I have no regrets. I still get to keep my knowledge and share it with new dairies I’m mentoring. I get to teach classes (like recently at the Orchard Kitchen or in a classroom at the Waldorf School.) I still get to pursue knowledge (after all, it’s found sometimes in the most unlikely places… like from my students). I still get to keep a more reasonable herd of goats. Less than 20 is the goal. One day I will have just four or five… but not soon.

I have been mourning the loss of our dairy because it is certainly a loss, but I am not sad. I will miss what it has been for our family and for our community, but I will not miss the insane hours, exhausting work or the steady, unstoppable financial drain.


Bittersweet changes—Vicky and Tom. (photo by Audra Mulkern – The Female Farmer Project)

I will miss the cheese, and the weekly visits from my friends and supporters at the farmers market. Oh, how I will miss that.

So for now, come see me at the Holiday Market… and stay tuned here. While I figure out our next move I will keep writing blogs for Whidbey Life Magazine…and maybe more. You know, there is always something cooking at the Little Brown Farm, and even if we aren’t running a dairy I will remain the Chief Milkmaid of our little herd and homestead.

With a full heart I am grateful for this generous, supportive community. Thank you for your support of the Little Brown Farm and all of our endeavors.

Vicky Brown, Chief Milkmaid at the Little Brown Farm, puts her passions on the page writing about food, agriculture and the tender web of community.


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  1. Dearest Vicky (and Tom), I am sad that there will be no more Little Brown Farm dairy or wonderful yummy goodies coming to market. I am thrilled that you are taking care of yourselves. In a perfect world perhaps both could have been possible. But you are the resource most valuable, and I have no doubt you will find your way into something else, something that hopefully will allow expression of your many gifts and talents but most of all something that makes your heart sing in a way similar to how the dairy did. Most of all, please keep sharing your delightful voice and spirit with us all.

  2. Thank you so much Rebecca. It is this remarkable community that gives us the ability to try things, work our guts out, try more things and adjust as needed. We are proud to be part of this lovely, intricate, supportive web of community we weave together.
    Thank you for being part of our fabric of life.

  3. Dearest Vicky and Tom,

    I can’t begin to express what the The Little Brown Farm has meant to Kaley, Teige and I, but I think you know. Your precious baby goats always brought us so much joy, and much healing when it was needed most. You and Tom have been so amazing to always welcome us with open arms day, after day, after day, after day ?. I know that the Little Brown Farm will always be a bright shining spot in Kaley and Teige’s childhood memories, and for that I am forever grateful! Your passion for your goats and for educating those of us in the community has been such a gift, and I know you will continue to share your gifts. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you next!

    Many blessing and much love,
    Annie, Kaley and Teige Schinnerer

    • Annie,
      So much love to you and your precious family.

      Thank you so much for sharing our joy… truly the most fulfilling part of what we’ve done has been the sharing of it with others.

      Much love,
      Vicky & Tom and all the cool critters.

  4. Vicky and Tom…I’m so sad to hear this news about the “Little Brown Farm” closing…but I also fully understand.When I was living on the island,I thought to myself…how in the world do they of keep this pace up…I too understand how passion and love gives us the energy to do so much.We are just humans and always need to think about our well being first…passion can drive us into exhaustion…and then we need to rest and refocus.I’m so happy to be able to call you both cherished friends!…Here’s to some much needed rest…and a wish for you guys to have the best in your next endeavors…I know whatever they are…there will be passion!


    • Thank you so much Gary. What an incredible thing our farm has been, to lead us to people like you.
      The perfection is that the friendships and memories don’t have expiration dates.
      Hugs & love to you!
      Vicky & Tom

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