Somewhere in the lush hills tucked between Pikeville, Crossville, and Spencer, lies a special little, unassuming farm, that you might drive right by without even knowing it. It’s what comes out of this small dairy farm that is truly distinctive. “The combination of this grass, this spot in Tennessee, this air, these special goats, our management, and my recipes are what gives our goat cheeses their own special flavor,” explains Kim Banks, mother and visionary of Kira’s Kids Dairy Farm.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh6.ggpht.com/-GFwAseh3DA0/UkNeN_4fjuI/AAAAAAAAASM/Tq1Hrk3-63o/s144-c-o/Kira%252527s1.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/104413851917705081151/20130925#5927685129129397986″ caption=”Kim and Larry Banks with Buddy the Dog and Aaron the Goat – Click to View” type=”image” alt=”Kira’s1.jpg” ]
Kim and Larry Banks eased into the goat cheese business by a series of gradual steps taken over the past 14 years. “I liked the idea of goats’ milk, cheese, and soap, so I got two goats, Kira and Natasha,” says Kim on getting started with her first goats for personal use. Over the years, Kira, the nanny for whom the farm is named, mothered 30 kids. “All of our milking goats are descendants of Kira, and there is one living daughter, Krystal, who is still with us. She was a good goat, and a great milker, so that is part of what makes our dairy special,” reveals Larry as he and Kim always speak fondly of Kira. Kira is buried on the farm in homage to her legacy and contribution to the farm.
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Larry and Kim bring together a unique set of qualities and expertise which has aided in their success. With Larry’s engineering experience, his forte is put to use by designing their barns, processing rooms, and overall flow of the farm. A micro-biology background gives Kim the understanding of the delicate balance needed to achieve the exact cheese product she hopes to create each day.
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The Banks’ officially founded Kira’s Kids Dairy Farm commercially five years ago, their only goat product being cheese. The goats provide milk for such delectable products as chevre, yogurt, feta, and gouda, as well as the different flavored variations of these cheeses such as strawberry yogurt and chipotle chevre. These recipes are all Kim’s creations, and you won’t find them written anywhere. The amount of attention to detail, correction, micro-detail that the Banks pay to each and every step of their goat cheese operation is astounding. The few breeds of goat, Saanen, Lamancha, and Nubian, have been selected for their special qualities and each goat is highly pedigreed back at least 5 generations. Kim uses a slow process and old fashioned methods to craft the cheeses. The farm is accredited by the American Dairy Goat Association, and is one of only 3 Grade A goat dairies in all of Tennessee! This is no surprise after a tour through the orderly facility. “Everything we have we’ve built”, says Larry.
[pe2-image src=”http://lh4.ggpht.com/-s9QkcUOEMLQ/UkNeQRAftlI/AAAAAAAAASk/KSCzO3XCdqA/s144-c-o/Kira%252527s4.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/104413851917705081151/20130925#5927685168086103634″ caption=”The Barn at Kira’s Kids Dairy Farm – Click to View” type=”image” alt=”Kira’s4.jpg” pe2_img_align=”right” ]
“We do it the way we want to do it,” says Kim. “It takes a lot of advanced planning, and a lot of work, but it works for us.” You can find Kira’s Kids cheeses sold at farmer’s markets across East Tennessee including Crossville Sustainable Farmer’s Market, Market Square Knoxville, West Knoxville, and Oak Ridge. Please visit their website to learn more about Kira and her kids at KirasKidsDairy.com. Whether you know you like (or love) goat cheese, are curious about it, or otherwise, trying Kira’s Kids chevre is an absolute must. There is nothing in the grocery store even close to the unique, boutique, exceptional flavor in all of their varieties of goat cheeses. Please check back next week on TennesseeTable.com to see some recipes that I have developed specifically with Kira’s Kids cheeses. [pe2-image src=”http://lh3.ggpht.com/-cTi_VvkgqmM/UkNePc7ma2I/AAAAAAAAASY/UTiuplr4ZCc/s144-c-o/Kira%252527s5.jpg” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/104413851917705081151/20130925#5927685154106927970″ caption=”Fiona the Dairy Goat – Click to View” type=”image” alt=”Kira’s5.jpg” ]