CHINA — The end of Ed Fredrikson’s 30-plus-year career in hardware sales and distribution was a mixed blessing because it forced him right into the vocation that has made him the happiest — farmsteading.

He and his wife, Dianna, became licensed in the spring to sell chevre cheese they produce from goats’ milk at their business, Fredrikson Farm on Danforth Road in China Village.

They live and work on the farm, which encompasses 70 acres of woods, field and several pastures and barns that house their 24 Saanen goats.

“Farmsteading is taking a cheese from beginning to end,” said Ed Fredrikson, 54. “You raise the animals, you obviously produce the milk and you make the cheese with the milk.”

He and Dianna Fredrikson, 51, hosted one of many open houses held around the state Sunday as part of Open Creamery Day 2015, sponsored by the Maine Cheese Guild. Other local farms included Kennebec Cheesery and Koons Farm in Sidney, Imagine Dairy Farm in Whitefield, Fuzzy Udder Creamery also in Whitefield and Crooked Face Creamery in Norridgewock.

Visitors to the Fredriksons’ farm toured newly constructed creamery buildings, including a cheese-making room and milking parlor. They patted the goats, watched them being milked and sampled chevre from the farm and wine from Younity Winery of Unity.

Melissa Brundige, 37, of Manchester, said she enjoyed visiting the farm.

“I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “You can tell their hard work has paid off, and I’ve learned to love goat cheese. I was not a fan and now I am.”

Her mother, Bonnie Symonds, 59, and an old friend of the Fredriksons, came all the way from Cape Cod for the open house.

“I love it,” Symonds said. “I didn’t expect anything other than this. Ed is a perfectionist. He is the happiest right here doing this. This has been a long time coming and a longtime dream for them.”

The farm has been some 30 years in the making. Ed Fredrikson worked on dairy farms as a boy growing up in China, but he spent 30 years as a hardware salesman for New England, and he and his wife ran a distribution warehouse for about seven years. The man they had subcontracted from said he’d never sell the business, but then did sell it. Meanwhile about five years ago, the Fredriksons had started the farm from a dream that sprouted some 25 years ago when they visited the Windsor Fair and met a woman named Pixie Day, who passed away about a year ago.

“The name Pixie is definitely apropos because she was small with a short haircut and she was a feisty old lady,” Ed Fredrikson said. “She had these big white beautiful goats, and I don’t know what happened but something just clicked inside my head.”

A DREAM COME TRUE

Dianna Fredrikson manages the Down East Credit Union in Unity. She loves that job and in her off time works on the farm.

She said she initially touted the idea of farmsteading to her husband.

“He was like, ‘Are you sure about this?’ and I said, ‘Absolutely. This is definitely what we need to be doing.’ We love it. You have to love it in order to put the hours we put in — to come home from work and pack cheese until 10 o’clock at night and whatever else needs to be done.”

While they are milking only four goats now, they expect to be milking 18 in the spring and have the capability to milk 50, according to Ed Fredrikson. Their goats are separated in barns and fenced in areas according to their ages, and the Fredriksons believe in waiting until the goats are fully mature before breeding them.

The farm produces about 35 pounds of cheese a week, and they sell it to specialty retailers around central Maine and on the coast. The nearest retailer is Meridians, a wine, food and beer shop in Fairfield. Now the Fredriksons are producing soft cheese; their hard cheese will be available in July.

The farm is more than a vocation for the family — it is a passion.

“I get up at 4:30 a.m. every day and milk,” Ed Fredrikson said. “When I’m in the milking parlor at 4:30 a.m., I don’t dread that for a second. I’m happy as hell.”

Maine needs more such farms, according to Ed Fredrikson, who is philosophical about supporting the Maine economy and local farms and eating locally.

“In general, with paper mills going out, the reality is there is a good quality of life up here. There’s nothing wrong with this state, but it just has to have economic factions that can support the next generation and I think this is a great venue. People are going to eat. That’s not going to go away.”

CARE IN PLANNING A FARM

The Fredriksons visited many farms before planning how they would build theirs. They took particular care in designing their buildings and having milking stations constructed so that they can see and inspect the entire goat as they are milking it.

“The farm needs to be well thought out,” Ed Fredrikson said. “It’s not just something you go and throw together. This doesn’t just happen overnight. There was a lot of thought that went into this, and that’s what I encourage people to do. Yes, get into farming, but before going into farming, visit places, think about it, think of your end game and work from there. You work the farm — don’t let the farm work you. That’s the best advice I can give any young farmer.”

When he and his wife visited farms before they built theirs, they saw a lot of elderly women running them, and their farms’ demise was always because there were inefficiencies in their infrastructure, according to Ed Fredrikson.

“It became so much work, they couldn’t maintain it anymore,” he said.

A former avid bicyclist, Ed Fredrikson said he told his wife he would make their farm so efficient he would have to start riding his bike again.

The Fredriksons take pride in the cleanliness of the farm, the goats and their equipment.

“I’m super anal about being nice and neat and clean,” he said. “I want people to feel good about what they are eating.”

Meanwhile, the family loves their Saanen goats, which eat hay and grain, are a larger goat breed and typically are heavy milk producers, according to Ed Fredrikson.

“I like their temperament,” he said, while a female goat named Bella nibbled at his coat sleeves. “If you feed them well and give them a great space, you don’t have to chase them. Goats are more intelligent than dogs. They know their names and they will come to their names. You get them into a routine and they know their routine. They’ll follow it faithfully. If you do something different, they get weird.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17