Enid wife gets last laugh with goat farm
By Bridget Nash | Enid News & Eagle/Tulsa World
ENID — After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Shelley Larsen's husband decided to join the Army.
He told her it was what he wanted to do but when he got out of the Army, they would do whatever she wanted to do.
Larsen jokingly said she wanted to have a goat farm and make cheese.
Well, he (or she) who laughs last, laughs best.
Larsen got the last laugh and now owns a budding and successful goat farm, Last Laugh Farms.
Larsen, along with her mother, Belinda Jung, started Last Laugh Farms in 2008 to create goat milk products.
"We bought 12 (goats) to begin with," Larsen said. "I didn't know much about goats, but Mom and I learned very quickly."
Now, Last Laugh has 39 goats and is continuing to expand. Larsen and Jung are hoping to grow their goat herd so they have enough milk to sell cheese and ice cream. As it stands, the milk itself is such a popular seller, there is none left for cheese or ice cream.
"We sell raw, unpasteurized milk," Larsen said. "Unpasteurized milk lasts just as long as regular milk."
Many people prefer unpasteurized milk for the probiotics, Larsen said.
"Pasteurization kills the good bacteria," Larsen said. "The only reason they pasteurize milk is so they can ship it."
Last Laugh's goats are milked in a sanitary way, with an electric milker, but since it is raw milk, the Food and Drug Administration requires milk buyers go to the farm to pick up the milk.
"Customers can come see how we milk," Larsen said.
Aside from the probiotics, there are other reasons people choose to buy raw goat milk.
"People that are lactose intolerant can use it," Larsen said. "It digests in about 25 minutes as opposed to 24 hours."
Other customers buy the raw goat milk for family members with disabilities, such as children with autism, as some studies have shown the milk to have benefits for certain disabilities, Larsen said.
Some people may be hesitant to use unpasteurized milk, but Larsen said it is safe to buy raw milk locally.
"I give it to my kids," Larsen said. "I wouldn't give it to anyone else if I wouldn't give it to my kids."
So, what does goat milk taste like? Pretty much like regular milk. The difference between store-bought milk and the milk sold by Last Laugh is hard to detect.
"It's creamier," Larsen said.
While they don't have enough milk to make cheese and ice cream, Larsen and Jung do sell goat milk soap.
The soap is naturally moisturizing, and some people with some forms of dermatitis, such as eczema, find it soothes their symptoms, Larsen said.
"We have people come to the (Enid) Farmer's Market and just rave and show us where the eczema has gone," Larsen said.
Last Laugh Farms sells its soap at Enid Farmer's Market on Saturdays and also at Willow Country Store.
"We've done really well at the Enid Farmer's Market," Larsen said. "We've met some really cool people."
"We have several regular customers," said Jung. "We have met the most wonderful people. That's been the really neat part."
Last Laugh's goat milk soap can be purchased unscented or in lavender, honey almond, sweet pea or cucumber melon scents.
When the goat herd increases enough Larsen and Jung plan to make cheese.
"Our main intention is to make cheese," Larsen said. "Once we finish the construction (at the farm location), we will be Grade A certified."
Last Laugh Farms continues to expand, and Larsen is determined to continue to grow the business without any debt, therefore expansion comes as business allows.
So far, the business has gone smoothly and successfully for Larsen and Jung, as well as Larsen's husband, Timothy, and two children, Josie and Riley.
"My kids were Army brats, now they're farm kids," Larsen said.
The business, which started out as merely a jocular remark, has become a positive experience for Larsen's family and Last Laugh's customers.
"I would definitely say that we've gotten the last laugh," Larsen said. "We've been very successful."