Lois and Ben Reichert A family from south-central Iowa has developed an award winning cheese…almost by accident.

About nine years ago, Lois and Jack Reichert of Knoxville were struggling to accommodate their son Ben’s severe allergies to cow milk. They eventually purchased a few goats and Ben, who is now 12, has enjoyed goat milk without any problems ever since.

The family only intended to use the goats for their own milk supply, but the animals multiply in a hurry. The Reicherts had more milk than they could use, so Lois began experimenting with cheese making.

"I didn’t like strong, ‘goaty’ goat cheeses," Reichert explained, "and I thought ‘my milk doesn’t taste that way, I know how to manage the milk so it doesn’t taste that way, why can’t you make cheese that way?’" Lois says the secret to Reicherts’ Dairy Air brand goat cheese is starting with cold milk, which is immediately pasteurized when it’s taken from the animal.

Last year, the Reicherts’ won awards in the American Dairy Goat Association’s cheese competition in Colorado. At the same time, Lois quit her job at the Knoxville V.A. to focus on the goat business. "I tell people if I knew how much work was involved, how much it was going to cost and how long it was going to take – I never would have started it," Reichert said with a laugh. "It was a blessing it came in pieces. You know, it’s seven in the morning to almost midnight…but I’m still happier than I was working at my other job."

Lois and Ben work together, currently caring for 15 adult goats and an ever-growing herd of babies. The Reichert’s sell their Dairy Air brand goat cheese at the Des Moines Farmers Market and through businesses located in Des Moines, Knoxville, Ames and Pella.

Audio: Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis report on goat cheese. :64 MP3