It may seem a long way from their homeland, but about 200 Alpine goats call Pescadero home on the southern edge of San Mateo County.
Happily residing at Harley Farms Goat Dairy, the goats — and a few llamas — will greet visitors at the farm’s eighth annual Christmas Faire on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s a proper Christmas event,” says Dee Harley, the farm founder. “We Christmas it up. The old barn has a nostalgic energy about it that lends itself to that feeling.”
The free event features food and craft vendors selling handmade knitwear, jewelry, quilts, accessories, candles, soaps and more. Specialty food items include dark-chocolate chevre, habanero jelly truffles and homemade cheesecake, jams and mustards.
Harley, who started the farm more than 20 years ago, is originally from Wakefield, outside Leeds, in Northern England. As an 18-year-old traveler, she found California suited her personality, but her farming instincts originate in England.
“As a kid, I used to go into our cousin’s hay barn, and I can still remember the smell of it,” Harley says. “I wanted that life. It’s freedom. It’s a business, but farming is also life. I was always destined to be a farmer, I just didn’t know it would manifest itself in goats.”
Originally an herb cultivator, Harley got a couple of goats after a friend suggested that her Pescadero property — a cow farm from 1910 that was derelict — was perfect for it. Her current herd descends from the original pair.
“People used to knock on my door and want goat cheese and want to meet the goats,” Harley says. “What we have now has been an organic process.”
In addition to the annual Christmas Faire, Harley Farms regularly opens its doors to visitors. It offers tours, hosts farm dinners in its hayloft and sells goat products, including bath and body items, and now paint, from its store. (In San Francisco, Harley Farms items are available at Rainbow Grocery and Say Cheese and online through Good Eggs and the farm website.)
While goat products have been on the rise in the foodie scene, Harley isn’t in the field for the hip factor.
“When I was a child my granddad grew stuff, everyone had a few vegetables in their garden and shelled peas; that’s what that generation did,” Harley says. “Then it all went to processed food, and it was a treat then when that was new. Now, of course, the farm idea has become trendy, but it’s not trendy, it’s fundamental and real. It’s not a joke. When people come and visit, the goats look lovely, but the goats aren’t here because they look good — they’re working.”
IF YOU GO
Harley Farms Christmas Faire
Where: Harley Farms Goat Dairy, 205 North St., Pescadero
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Tickets: Free; workshops $20 to $35