Aletta's goat farm
Another inspiring person we've met while on Bonaire a couple months ago, was Aletta van Beeck, a physical therapist born in the Netherlands. Without any prior background in farming but with a lifelong dream of living self-sufficiently and in close connection to nature, farmland and animals, she today lives in Bonaire where she manages her own "Kunuku" - the local name for a farm. Aletta is strongly committed to her daily work with lots of love, care, attention and affection for the nature and her beautiful group of animals.
Her farm is literally off the grid on the inside of the island. A jeep is much recommended for transport through the brushy cactus scattered road that leads to her land. The farm has no electricity, all is obtained by solar power, and water is collected off the roof. Aletta cares for about sixty goats today and she has no other help than from the occasional volunteer who picks up extra tasks like bottle-feeding babies and clearing cactus, as well as family and friends who occasionally visits from the Netherlands.
At 4.30 each morning she wakes up to call for her goats to feed them breakfast and to milk the females. Twice a day for a period of five months after they've given birth, the female goats are milked by hand. Besides concentrated goat food the goats are provided with natural greens and homegrown corn for higher milk quality, and they keep themselves happy and in good shape by roaming the wide meadows. In the evenings they are called back for shelter in the open air stables.
Twice a year Aletta calls for reproduction by hiring male goats to keep the milk production running. She has two groups of female goats to circle in pregnancy, milk production and pausing. The little ones grow up close to their mothers and have, as part of Aletta's philosophy, their share of the natural mother milk. The goat cheese is turned from milk to cheese during a five day procedure of draining and turning in a cooling room with a constant temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. After this five day procedure the finished cheese is ready for final control and packing.
Having eaten chevré all over the world, this was without doubt one the best ones I've ever had. To be able to see the whole process and understand how content the animals seem to be and how well taken care of they are, made the experience all that much stronger. Aletta also serves coffee with fresh goats milk which Alex said was very good, and she also produces goats yoghurt which we also had the great pleasure to try out.
The produce is sold to most restaurants and grocery stores on Bonaire. Would have been wonderful if she could export to the neighboring islands too but it would probably not be financially feasible with the expensive air transport required. If you ever visit Bonaire, which I wholeheartedly recommend you to do at least once in your lifetime, you must visit Aletta and her charming goat family. It was a true pleasure meeting someone so genuinely passionate about her land, the animals and the simple living that she so profoundly stands for.
Check out her website here.