Story and photography by Joe Laedtke
A modest goat milk co-op grows to a massive milking milestone. Dabbling turns to thousands of pounds of cheese-making capacity. A notion of home brings a Wisconsin girl from retail management back to the family farm.
Welcome to LaClare Country.
“This is the trailer that made it all possible.”
Homestyle Vertical Integration
Goats, milking parlors, on-site pasteurization and homogenization, cheesemaking, and aging caves feed a handsome store and on-site cafe serving LaClare goat milk cheese dishes.
Larry and son, Greg walk through the barn, addressing goats by first name. Katie remembers exactly when she knew she would come back to parents’ Larry and Clara Hedrich goat farm in Chilton.
“I started working retail because one day I wanted to open an on-farm store.”
The LaClare Farms store is like a love letter to Wisconsin Cheese: Carr Valley slabs, tubs of Widmer Brick Cold Pack, sharp wedges of Sartori, and baskets overflowing with LaClare goat White Cheddar, Fondy Jack, and the breathtaking Evalon. Behind it, the cafe, unassuming and spacious, yields vistas of the milking parlor and yet-to-be-populated aging caves.
There’s a striking modesty to everything the Hedrichs do and say: moving about in the state-of-the-art creamery, you immediately sense their excitement, their very real enthusiasm for their craft and their heritage, and their palpable hope. This is a family business born of passion, happy accidents, and achingly adorable goats. This is following life’s garden path to inexplicable ends.
This is the beginning of bigger things, of wonderful things. Of goat-y things.
W2994 County Road HH
Pipe, WI 53049
Joe Laedtke has been a life-long food enthusiast, starting when he was still a kid growing up in Washington Heights, watching his grandma Shirley intently as she taught him her secret recipes for onion dip, turkey gravy, and rouladen, and even through college as he delivered pizzas throughout the greater Ripon area in a 1978 AMC Pacer. These days, he proudly represents the unique combination of freelance photographer and licensed funeral director, and has garnered national attention with his website, Eating Milwaukee, including a segment on CBS This Morning. He has absolutely no willpower whatsoever around essentially any Asian cuisine.