Producing goat milk products rewarding at High Hill Ranch
After working all day as an X-ray tech at Laird Hospital in Union, Kathy Rickles retreats to her 92.5 acre High Hill Ranch in Neshoba County to tend her 25 goats producing milk for the hand-made products she sells.
Rickles has been tending her Alpine and Nubian goats on her goat farm off of Highway 492 east of Union since 2011 using milking machines to produce the milk necessary for products, such as goat cheese, goat milk, goat milk lotion and goat milk soap.
Rickles started with just two goats she bought from a man in Vicksburg, and now has 25 goats through crossbreeding and purchasing more goats.
Rickles said the crossbreeding has led to more premium milk since Alpines produce a high volume of milk, and milk from Nubians contains a higher amount of butterfat, resulting in better taste.
“I’ve known Kathy all my life and the products she makes are very high quality,” said Susan Myers, a lifelong friend and avid High Hill Ranch fan.
“I’ve enjoyed everything she’s made, especially the goat cheese and soap.”
Rickles researched the health properties of goat milk in 2011 and learned that the milk is good for the skin due to its ability to reduce skin inflammation and wrinkles thanks to its natural emollients. Also, goat milk is protein-packed and loaded with essential nutrients such as vitamin C, B1, B6, B12 and E, she learned.
“I’ve read that the potassium in goat milk works to maintain helpful cardiovascular function and protection against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and stroke,” Rickles said.
Rickles, who was born in Philadelphia grew up working with animals, but she had to learn how to work on a dairy.
Rickles had a learning curve when she started High Hill Ranch, and it took a lot of research and help from farmers she knew to master milking goats and preserving the milk, butter and cheese.
“I’m still learning things to this day,” Rickles said.
She began selling goat milk soap to customers at the Farmers Market in Philadelphia in 2011 to make some extra money on the side, and it was then that people started asking if she sold other products.
After realizing she needed a dairy license to sell goat milk and goat cheese, Rickles obtained the license in 2014 and expanded High Hill Ranch.
Her goat cheese is one of her most popular items coming in different flavors such as regular, jalapeño, ranch and black peppercorn.
The soap and lotions also come in a variety of scents, such as vanilla sugar and peppermint.
Rickles said goat milk ice cream is something she has been experimenting with, but it is not commercially available due to requiring state approval plus needing to hire another person.
Rickles plans to continue making her products and will appear at the Philadelphia Farmers Market at The Depot in this month.
Rickles was born and raised in Philadelphia. Her parents were Jamie and Margaret Rickles. She attended Neshoba Central and Meridian Community College. She has a daughter, Maggie Eubanks, and four step-grandchildren, Mallory, Chase, Asher and Rafe Eubanks.
To learn more about High Hill Ranch, call Rickles at 601-562-3243, or email email@example.com or visit her page on Facebook.