North Fork in Bloom: Baby goats at Goodale Farms in Riverhead

The baby goats at Goodale Farms play on the wooden train in the outdoor pen. (Credit: Cyndi Zaweski)

There is a checklist that’s ticked before we can officially call it spring on the North Fork.

Farm stands are announcing their season openings. Check.

Modern Snack Bar is gearing up to serve its irresistible lemon merengue pie. Check.

And baby goats are frolicking carefree at Goodale Farms in Riverhead. Double check.

Owner Hal Goodale introduced the first 30 kids to the outdoor visiting area late last week. The three-week-old white and brown goats got their first taste of the North Fork sunshine on a near 50-degree day Thursday. Goodale expects to have as many as 200 kids at the farm before the birthing season ends in late spring.

The babies are eager greeters, fearlessly walking up to visitors as if they know they’re the subject of #cute Instagram photos. Two or three babies are born each day around this time. They are given some time with their mother and bottle fed by staff members before heading outside to climb, play and, occasionally, trip over each other.

“It is a busy time of year … And a lot of people like to visit the babies, ” Goodale said. “They are a handful, but they’re cute. We welcome everyone to come and see them.”

The Goodale family has been cultivating land on the East End since the 1880s, and Hal began laying the framework for his Main Road farm in 2005 with six goats, two cows, two pigs and 30 chickens. Today, it is one of the North Fork’s few sources of local dairy products and pastured meats.

The farm’s 120-plus goats produce roughly 25,000 gallons of milk annually, with the goal of producing more to meet demand. Starting in May, you’ll also find Goodale Farms goat’s milk, cow’s milk, select cheeses and yogurt in 11 Stop & Shop stores across Long Island.

This will also be the first year Goodale breeds goats in the summer as well as the fall. The mating season typically starts in September, but semi-annual breeding will keep the goat’s milk flowing — and bring another round of baby goats to the farm in the fall.

“Consistency is success,” Goodale said.

The Riverhead farm stand and delivery service will still operate on all cylinders when the products are stocked in Stop & Shop, in fact Goodale is looking to expand the Riverhead farm stand, too.

He is in the beginning stages of planning a larger retail and agricultural center at the existing Main Road farm. The revamped farm stand will allow visitors to see how the cows are milked and how the cheese is made, he said.

“We try to encourage people to come to the farm and see what we’re doing,” Goodale said.

Goodale Farms is located at 250 Main Road, Riverhead. North Fork in Bloom is a new weekly series showcasing the things we love about spring here. Have a story idea, email associate content director Cyndi Zaweski at czaweski@timesreview.com.