The Long Beach Peninsula on the southwestern corner of Washington state has fantastic gems to explore! The pristine beaches of Ocean Park, the fun touristy shops of Long Beach and even a couple making goat’s milk cheese just outside of Oysterville. I stopped in at L J Ranch to find out more about them and definitely leave with some of their raw milk cheese!
Jerry and Lisa Busenius have been making goat cheese for ten years and hope to continue for many more. They have a petite herd of registered French Alpine goats, 6 that they milk - the most they’ve milked is 13. Jerry chatted with me as I bought some Fromage Blanc, Jalapeno Cheddar, 6-month aged Gouda and a chunk of Parmesan. He said that when his wife Lisa wanted to make a goat’s milk Parmesan style, he had his doubts, but as with many other things he’s admitting she was right! He takes care of milking and Lisa takes care of the cheese making.
Jerry and I walked over to the fence to watch the goats enjoying their lunch after morning milking and I was introduced to Lacey the Horse. She’s the Guardian of the L J goats, chasing away any predators that might come near them, and is from what I’ve been told a big fan of licorice twists! Sadly, I didn’t have any licorice on me but I did make myself useful plucking grass that was out of her reach and feeding it to her.
I enjoyed experimenting with the selection I brought home with me, finding fun ways to play off the flavors. The Fromage Blanc is airy, delicate and delightful with a wine jelly. I’ve baked the Jalapeno Cheddar into a pan of enchiladas and the salty, crumble of the cheese with just a little warmth was fantastic. The Parmesan and Gouda are wonderful in a veggie scramble on a Sunday morning!
On a side note, L J Ranch is dependent on the tourist traffic and many tourists come specifically to dig razor clams during the clam tides. Jerry is worried that only one clam tide this winter means less tourists and less traffic past them which is a challenge for their finances.
The schedule from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife lists December 22nd for the only dig in the Long Beach area. This is due to the low salinity last winter and the decision to let the clam survival rate recover. With only one day to dig this year and it being the weekend before Christmas, concerns over less tourists are high. If you do happen to head out to the Peninsula for the dig, pop by L J Ranch. As Jerry says, be sure to really push the buzzer button on their cheese kitchen so they can hear your arrival if they’re not outside!