Pulling into the drive of Pure Luck Farm & Dairy on the western edge of Dripping Springs, you’re greeted by the sights and sounds of bucolic farm life: gentle breezes combing through the ancient oaks that shade the farm’s 50 acres, pumpkin-colored chickens clucking in the fenced-in yard around the family’s home—and in the distance, the tinkling of a bell, which adorns one of the many goats, chiming through the air. The farm, which produces artisanal goat cheese and organic culinary herbs, is presently closed to the public, but Amelia Sweethardt, who owns the farm with her family, has offered a private tour. She greets me on the porch of the cheery yellow bungalow she shares with her husband, Ben, and their two children.
Amelia grew up across the road on the farm’s original 11 acres where the herbs are currently grown. Her mother, Sara, who passed away in 2005, bought the original land that borders Barton Creek in 1979 as a place to raise her daughters. “When Mom bought the place,” Amelia explains, “it already had a big orchard and a garden. She got goats a year or two later. Some friends of the family already had goats, and they would go to Mexico and bring their goats over for us to take care of. And she just knew she needed goats.” Amelia’s mom began making cheese and yogurt from the fresh goat milk and eventually decided to open a commercial dairy. Pure Luck claims to be one of the first farms in Texas to be certified organic.
After traveling in Mexico and working in Austin, Amelia returned to Pure Luck to help her mom with cheese making. “In some ways, I never left,” she says. “[Mom] taught me to make cheese and we had so much fun. At that time, the business was on a steady growth path and it was very natural for me to do production. I like to think I was an asset for her.”
Stepping into the pasture on our tour, Amelia calls out to the goats by name as if they’re family. “They still think of me as the mother,” she says. “They trust us, and that’s one of the reasons why we bottle-feed them. They imprint early, and I tried to hold them as much as possible.” Amelia notes that the kids have their own separate area, because “they are just growing up, and it’s just fair that they have their own space. And when they do join the herd, they already have solid relationships so they will take care of each other…as much as a goat takes care of anybody else,” she adds with a laugh. “They are so selfish."
As we continue, Amelia shares that there’s really no “typical” workday on the farm, but that Mondays often look like this: “I get up at four twenty-five,” she says. “I get dressed, make coffee and wake up. I get my headlamp on and head to the barn at five. Morning milking begins at five. I’m done milking by six thirty and I clean up and feed the other animals. I come back to the house and see my kids before school. My sister Claire comes to work and we clean the barn and flip the compost; we compost all of the goat’s waste for the herb farm. I get cleaned up and go to my office [another house on the property] and work on the spreadsheet for deliveries, which are on Tuesdays. I might milk again at four.”
I spy a cute blue house off in the distance with a huge screened-in porch and ask about it. “We plan to open up a cheese shop and sell fresh vegetables and flowers. This will allow for the public to come out and visit the farm,” she explains. “It gives us a way to host people simply but comfortably. It’s been a couple of years in the works and we are about to take the leap and get it ready to open, I hope, by next spring.” Husband Ben later adds that he also sees the blue house as a hub for connecting with customers who buy their product. “It’ll be a landing pad for tours so we can start and end there,” he says. “And we’ll also have a dedicated workshop space for cheese making.”
Amelia, sister Claire, Ben and two additional employees run the farm. “I handle the deliveries,” Ben explains. “I also do the farmers markets every Saturday and Sunday and fix anything on the farm that breaks—basically, all the plumbing, the electrical and moving things around. For instance, today I’m unloading about 20 tons of alfalfa as it comes in. I don’t have a title…it’s just ‘Anything That Comes Up.’”
“I love the land and being out here,” Amelia says. “It’s a kind of study…how to know more about what we are actually doing with the goats. We make good milk, [but] what’s actually in the milk? It’s a luxury getting to geek out on this stuff, because it ups my chances of getting to do it forever.”
By May K. Cobb • Photography by Pauline Stevens
Find out more at purelucktexas.com or call 512-917-2803.