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Building a Dairy Business

This Iowa family built a business around their family's needs. With goats and sheep they create homemade skin products and artisan cheeses.
  • Opportunity knocks

    When Tom and Janna Feldman decided to expand their family of five by adopting two children, they had no idea what their final two children would unintentionally bring into their lives.

    As a mother, Janna wanted to do all that she could to help her daughter, Mia, with her digestive issues. A little research led her to believe that goat milk may be easier to digest, so the family invested in the farm’s very first goat. Their son, Matthew, was having some trouble with eczema, so Janna began making soaps and lotions with extra goat milk to sooth her son’s skin.

    Today, the Feldmans own and operate their fully functioning soap and cheese processing plant, Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy, on their family farm in Honey Creek, Iowa. 

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018
  • The girls

    In 2013, the Feldmans welcomed sheep to their farm. Their milk helps to smooth out skin products and provides a creamy, sweet flavor in tangy goat cheeses. The sheep and goats spend their days grazing in a spacious pasture and are milked twice a day March through November.

    “I really, truly enjoy milking – that one-to-one basis of knowing each animal and the health of my herd,” says Janna, who works full-time on the farm. “Each one of them has a personality.”

    Janna adores spending time with her beloved goats and sheep she refers to as “the girls.” The goats she originally cared for were named after candy bars, for example a set of twins are called Almond and Joy, but since the flock has grown so much she no longer names every one. The herd comes running when she calls for them. 

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018
  • Gaining experience

    As a self-taught producer of creamy skin products made from goat and sheep milk, Janna has had great success with her merchandise. For years she was occasionally making products on her kitchen stove, which gave her plenty of time to experiment with additives. In her new facility, it takes 4 to 6 hours to produce soaps. Her chai tea lotion and healing gifts soaps are most popular.

    “Now, my doctor recommends my soap and lotions to all of his patients who say anything about eczema or dry skin,” Janna says.

    After taking an intensive artisan cheesemaking class at California Polytechnic State University, she was fully prepared to commercially produce cheese based on her newfound knowledge of flavoring, processing, and food safety practices. Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy became certified and official in March of 2013. 

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018
  • Janna's granddaughter, Kenzie, loves visiting her grandparents' dairy farm.

    All in the family

    Matthew, now 22, serves as the cheese apprentice on the family farm and has learned the entire filtering and sterilization process. He milks the goats and sheep and is familiar with the abundant amount of dishes that need cleaning after any day of cheesemaking.

    “Matthew steps in with whatever is needed,” says Janna. “He is such a great kid.”

    Producing and packaging soaps and lotions has also become a part of Matthew’s duties, as well as working with customers at farmers markets. Janna is hopeful that they’ll be able to send him to the cheesemaking class in California, too, to perfect his skills. 

    (Pictured is Janna's granddaughter, Kenzie, who loves visiting her grandparents' farm.)

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018
  • The latest endeavor

    Recently, Janna acquired a whiskey barrel from the Templeton Rye factory and crafted it into a workable cheese house with a metal shelf. She is working on perfecting a brix cheese that soaks up all the delicious flavors of whiskey and the notes of charred oak from the barrel.

    “I really love the satisfaction of making cheese and knowing that someone is going to taste my cheese for the first time and just be totally blown away by it,” Janna says. “It’s such a good product.”

    The dairy’s most popular cheese products are currently the candy ginger and lavender chevre and their cherry horseradish chevre. 

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018
  • Built on values

    Janna is passionate about doing everything as efficiently and humanely as possible. Her home and dairy were both built as ecofriendly and energy efficient as could be. The Feldman home uses geothermal energy and radiant heat.

    Beams from an old barn were implemented into the construction of the on-farm dairy as much as state laws would allow. The building has extra insulation for energy efficiency and LED lighting, as well.

    As for her animals, apple cider vinegar is used for worming to avoid any unnecessary use of antibiotics and baby animals are separated from their mothers at night to make the process a bit less traumatic. 

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018
  • Where they're selling

    Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy products can be found at Wohlner’s Neighborhood Grocery in Omaha and in several HyVee stores in both Iowa and Nebraska. A Wheat Fields Cooperative also allows members to place orders and receive dairy products from the Feldmans’ business.

    The family goes out and works farmers markets, too, hitting two markets in Iowa’s Harrison County on Thursdays, spending Saturdays in Omaha at the Village Pointe market, and rounding out weekends by working the Aksarben Village farmer’s market Sunday mornings in Omaha. Giving away samples is a huge drive for sales, Janna says.

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018
  • To learn more...

    For more information on the Feldmans and their dairy, visit their website at www.doesanddivas.com.

    Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy, Inc. | doesanddivas@gmail.com
    Janna Feldman | (712) 545-3049

    Date Published: July 2, 2014
    Date Updated: August 3, 2018

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