Dairy goat farm near St. Charles 'dream' for Tracy Burnham

Tracy Burnham used to dream about leaving the big city for greener pastures — and now she's living that dream in northeastern Ontario.

Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf breeds provide milk for artisinal soap business

Fiona, here a doeling, is one of a herd of about 25 Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf goats kept for dairy on the Casimir Forest Farm near St. Charles, Ont. (Supplied )

Tracy Burnham used to dream about leaving the big city for greener pastures — and now she's living that dream in northeastern Ontario. 

The Toronto transplant and her husband Jeff have been operating Casimir Forest Farm on their property near St. Charles for the last five years. 
Tracy Burnham, seen here in her 'soap room', owns and operates a dairy goat farm with her husband near St. Charles, Ont. (Supplied)

Before that, the couple used to wonder what their future looked like in Canada's biggest city. 

"It was kind of difficult to maintain and get anywhere paying for [that] life," said Burnham of the early days starting out in Toronto. 

"So, we quickly kind of you know saw that  'Ok, if we're going to stay in Toronto, we better get used to rental living, and you know, not being able to really do too much.'" 

The leap

Then, Burnham said one day, Jeff announced he'd bought property — nearly 100 hectares of forested land near St. Charles., Ont., where his grandfather used to farm and raise cattle.   

Despite the surprise, Burnham said she was interested in the possibilities, though the couple thought at first they'd use the land for holiday getaways. 

"But I couldn't get the idea of a farm out of my head," she said. "It just became more and more appealing to me."

Burnham took an internship at an organic farm in southern Ontario to learn the ropes about farming.  Then, after a visit to a Toronto-area farm, she decided Nubian goats were the way forward.

"They were just the most personable animals," she said. "They're almost like dogs when they're well socialized. I just couldn't get enough of them!"

Making soap

Now, Burnham raises a herd of Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf goats, both dairy breeds. They boast names like Cindy Lou, Gerry Jetpack and Miss Moon. 

Under the business banner Casimir Forest Soap, Burnham uses her goat's milk to make an array of handcrafted soaps.   

So far, she said she produces up to 32 kilograms of soap a day on her own, and she makes it for sale by a larger company in southern Ontario.

"Now, the goal is to be a little bit more visible in my own community," she said.

As for whether she and Jeff made the right decision, she said she couldn't be happier. 

"[I'm] doing what I love to do every day, and Jeff and I are also expecting our first baby this May, so things are just unbelievable," she said. 

"I can't express the happiness I have here at the farm!" 


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