Dave Artigues would not be a cheesemaker today if not for a desire to upgrade his front porch.
In 2000, Artigues, 43, and his former wife moved from Durham, where his porch was a pitiful 4 by 4 feet, to an old farmhouse in Rougemont in northern Durham County. There, the wraparound porch with its sea-green floorboards and sky-blue ceiling calls out for visitors to sink into one of its white rocking chairs.
Goats were an afterthought for this former Duke University clinical counselor turned stay-at-home dad.
Artigues' first plan was to buy expensive show goats, which he now foolishly admits he did. Plan No. 2 was to breed those fancy goats and sell the offspring's meat to the area's thriving ethnic community. Plan No. 3 was to make goat cheese. He bought a bunch of goats from a dairy farmer, as well as her equipment and a book on the subject. He called the book's author and persuaded her to coach him through the cheese-making process.
That was the birth of Elodie Farms. Today, one almost can't believe this former Citadel graduate didn't always work on a farm. He has merely to call out “Heeeerrrre, goat” and 32 milking goats gallop across a field toward him.
He and his sole employee milk the goats each day and make the cheeses: chèvre, feta, Camembert, Gruyere, Stilton, Parmesan, Gouda, Montasio and Manchegoat, a play on Manchego, a sheep's milk cheese.
“You can never leave the farm; you are tied to the cycle,” he says. “So you really have to love what you do.”
Artigues sells Elodie Farms cheeses at the Durham Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday.