Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 57

The colors of these Three Graces cheeses are all natural. No annatto is added.

We look at life among the goats, cows and sheep, and we sample true
farmstead cheeses at North Carolina's Three Graces Dairy.
by Fred & Jill Sauceman * Photos by Fred Sauceman
"The minute we came over that first hill
and saw the sign saying 'Jewel of the
Blue Ridge,' that was it," says Roberta Ferguson.
Cleveland, Chicago and New
York suddenly lost their allure when
this dance instructor discovered the
mountains, creeks, barns and farmhouses of Madison County, North
Carolina. She had been an urban
dweller for her entire life, but that
existence was cast aside, and goats
took over.
This graduate of the Juilliard
School, who had worked in musical theater and had taught dance
in downtown Chicago, left that life
behind for the glories of the White
Rock community in Western North
Carolina.
She and her husband Larry, a
neurosurgeon, bought Ruth Landers' farm, where a grist mill, a gro-

cery store and a small hospital had
once served the citizens of the tiny
community near Hot Springs.
Ruth Landers was born on that
farm. Her mother died in the hospital there, and Landers was raised by
her aunt. When Roberta and Larry
Ferguson bought the place in 1998,
they gave Ruth a life estate there.
From Chicago, Roberta and Larry
moved to a place that did not have
electricity until the 1940s or paved
roads until the 1960s.
At first, they envisioned a leisurely life, raising animals to provide
fiber for weaving and spinning. Six
Nigerian Dwarf goats changed all
that. "They were our first babies,"
Roberta recalls, and a week later,
those six doubled to 12.
They were the genesis of what
became Three Graces Dairy, a name
that came to Roberta in the car as

she was on one of her many trips
from Chicago to North Carolina.
"In Greek mythology, the Three
Graces, who were the daughters of
Zeus, brought beauty, mirth and
hospitality to the Gods," Roberta
explains. "They were stewards of
nature. On the farm and in business practice, we also strive to act as
stewards of nature."
Herds of goats, cows and sheep
now grace this North Carolina
hillside farm. The milk that they
produce is transformed into a rich
and varied array of award-winning
cheeses, at this stop on the Western
North Carolina Cheese Trail (see
sidebar).
Roberta says the state of North
Carolina has been especially supportive to small producers like
Three Graces and the state has created a business environment that alMarch/April 2017 57



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017

Features
Festival Guide 2017
Waterfalls of North Carolina: A Photo Essay
Wytheville Loves Edith
Barry Glick, Garden Guy
Vanishing Landmarks of North Georgia
Cheese!
Departments
From the Editor
Contributors
Mill Creek Stories
Worth a Click
Creature Feature
The Good Walk
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Singing in the Garden
Festivals & Events
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Contributors
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - The Good Walk
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Festival Guide 2017
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Waterfalls of North Carolina: A Photo Essay
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Wytheville Loves Edith
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Barry Glick, Garden Guy
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Vanishing Landmarks of North Georgia
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cheese!
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover4
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