I have a small herd of primarily Jersey cows. I was so lucky to find my original two girls, Hershey and Baker, only a few weeks after arriving on this farm and they were lovingly raised as family cows by 14 children. They taught me so much and are fully responsible for my love devotion to all things bovine. Since starting the farm in 2016, many other wonderful cows have joined the herd and I currently have 9 mamas. Although now a rarity, most homestead farms used to have their own dairy cow who would provide all (and often more!) that was needed for the family. Seeking a similar self-reliance and home-made fertility, it didn’t take long to see the enormous benefits of these amazing ruminants. And they are oh, so generous in their butterfat-rich milk production.
These cows are 100% grass-fed and are rotated daily to new grass during the grazing season. The pastures are managed organically and, depending on the season, they cows may get some organic molasses or alfalfa pellets during milking. They also have constant access to a wide range of minerals – a “free-choice system” – as well as salt and kelp. In the winter they get high-quality alfalfa hay. The only grain on this farm is for the ducks!
I do everything in my power to ensure that the cows are healthy and happy, which I believe is the key to high-quality milk. Unlike a conventional dairy where calves are removed from their mothers at birth and bottle-fed in isolation, my calves are raised by their mothers to allow them to bond, lick, nurse when desired and learn the ways of being a cow from the entire herd. This lowers milk availability, but I feel it’s the absolute best environment for everyone involved – mama cows get to fully live into their purpose and the calves get the best foundation. Following Biodynamic practices, I let the cows keep their horns, also a rarity in the dairy world.
The raw milk is offered through a Herdshare program. Each household must purchase a share for each weekly gallon desired in order to have access to fresh milk in Kentucky. In short, you own part of the herd and pay a monthly fee for the feeding, care and milking of the cows. As an owner, you are thus entitled to her milk. A Herdshare follows the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model – it is a mutual commitment and partnership between farmer and consumer. The farmer brings the experience and labor needed to raise a farm product, and the financial support from members allows a small farm to operate in an economically sustainable manner. My farm can remain small and intentional and members receive fresh, local food produced by people they know and trust. It fills me with enormous gratitude to have the support to be able to farm in a way that centers the cows.
How do I obtain milk?
This small dairy is being managed by one person (with part-time help from my favorite little sidekick!) and as such relies on the partnership of committed herdshare members to keep this farm thriving. These members share the belief that high-quality raw milk comes from 100% grass-fed cows who get to keep their calf at foot. Here’s the basics of how it works and you can find a link to sign up on the waiting list at the bottom:
- Purchase a cow herdshare for $50. This is a one-time fee. Congrats, you are now part-owner of some beautiful cows!
- Each month, at the beginning of the month, you will be expected to pay $85. You may now obtain up to one gallon of milk each week for each share you own. Your monthly fee pays for the ongoing care, maintenance and milking of your cow. (Additional dairy products may be available, sample prices are provided on the interest form found below.)
- All milk is bottled on Mondays and Fridays. When signing up, you select which on-farm pickup option you want: A) Tues/Wed or B) Fri PM/Sat/Sun.
- All milk comes in half-gallon glass jars that must be washed and returned each week. Unreturned jars and lids incur a $5 per jar charge after 2 weeks.
- Enjoy your delicious milk! But remember that the milk that you obtain from your cow can in no way be sold or distributed under any circumstance.
- Please know that I strive to have milk year round, but I will likely have fluctuations due to calving and seasonal changes. Your full order of milk may not be available every single week. I will communicate with as much notice as possible regarding any changes.
This micro-dairy farm milks five cows. While I wish I could provide this magical milk for everyone who wants it, please be aware that I’m limited by my land. Grass-fed cows require ample grass! If you are interested in joining the waiting list, please fill out the form at the bottom to stay updated.
Will I receive milk year-round? Each cow must get a milking break before giving birth. During this 2-3 month rest (or “dry”) period, I do not milk the cows so their bodies can focus solely on growing a healthy baby calf. Each cow is only in milk production for roughly 9-10 months out of the year. I try to balance the births and maintain a steady supply, but because I am a small operation, fluctuations are likely to occur.
Do I have to pay for milk every month even if I will be out of town? The cows need daily care and milking happens every day, regardless of weather (or my mood, ha). Small dairies now seem to be a thing of the past, and I can only operate as one with the committed monthly support of herdshare members. This allows me to focus my efforts on caring for the cows, not chasing down customers. But I know we all have busy lives and I am happy to help try to accommodate travel needs with adjusted pick up times (since often folks still want to take the milk with them).
Are you interested in joining the waiting list? Fill out this quick form and I will be in touch when a spot opens! Feel free to contact me with any additional questions.
*Note that one picture is from the first year when we hand-milked. A small, but mighty bucket milker is now in use for all milking.