When a wildfire swept through Big Sur in 2016, Charlie Casio had just enough time to evacuate his goats and seek shelter in his cheese cave. So, you could say that goat cheese literally saved his life. But out of the ashes rose opportunity. Now Charlie runs The Ranch’s own artisanal goat cheese program, manages our creamery and herd of Swiss Saanen dairy goats, and creates unique blends and educational experiences for our guests.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I love giving guests the chance to connect and interact with livestock. It’s an opportunity for people to observe where their food comes from—they see the goats grazing on wild grasses and other greens that provide the goats with nourishment to produce milk. We collect the milk and transform it into delicious cheeses for the guests to enjoy.
What’s so great about these Swiss Saanen goats (other than their adorable-ness)?
They’re the largest of the goat family and produce the most milk. They can give milk for three years before needing to become pregnant again to stimulate milk production. This is different from other goats or cows, who can give milk for only ten months after pregnancy. Also, the milk from these goats is low in butterfat, which works well for the types of cheese we make.
Got any good cheese trivia?
Napoleon’s favorite cheese was the Valencay, a pyramid-shaped cheese with the top cut off. It has a white bloomy rind, a creamy layer just inside the rind, and a soft but firm interior. Come try some at The Market!
What were you doing before you came to The Ranch?
I had a 47-year-long career in the culinary industry. But I left that career to pursue my dream of creating a small, self-sufficient organic farm in Big Sur where I could teach young people how to grow healthy food. I manifested this dream for ten years, until Nature ended it with a wildfire. But The Ranch gave me another chance to do what I love.
Don’t miss Charlie’s hand-crafted goat cheeses at The Market & Creamery.