Monday, June 14, 2010

Down on the Farm!

This past weekend we finally decided to visit a local farm (Spokane Family Farm) that produces the BEST milk you will ever taste!  Their emphasis on quality, sustainability and genuine care for their animals in unmatched!  This farm has been up and running for about a year and a half and this amazing couple does all the work (or very nearly!!) themselves!  The husband (Mike) milks their 30 cows (all of whom have actual names) twice a day, and bottles 500 gallons of milk every other day, while the wife (Trish) mucks pens, cares for the calves and all the other animals, AND takes care of the two little boys they still have at home (they have 7 kids in total).  Talk about AMAZING!  (I know I am using a lot of exclamation points here, but bear with me because each one of them is deserved!)

Mike comes from three generations of dairy farmers and is so skilled and knowledgeable at what he does that he has actual taught the inspectors of their farm a few things along the way!  Mike is so knowledgeable, in fact, that he very consciously made the decision to not certify his farm as organic.  Being such a small farm, he understood that they simply would not be able to survive if they were forced to sit by and watch as sick cow die instead of treating her with antibiotics.  Instead, he is able to avoid many problems by quickly recognizing issues at their onset since he and his wife have such a close relationship with their cows, thus allowing them to make necessary changes and focus on prevention, then if need be, administer antibiotics.  Any cow treated with antibiotics is kept out of rotation until they are completely free of the drugs, but their life is graciously spared.  These cows are genuinely a part of the family!

In reality the product this farm is turning out is actually higher in quality and purity than organic milk anyway!  Right off the line the milk is immediately chilled to halt the growth of bacteria and then put through a pasturization process that only heats the milk 45 additional degrees above what it is when it is pumped from the cows- thus allowing the bad bacteria to be eliminated but the good bacteria and cultures to remain.

Mike and Trish also only sell their milk in its whole, non-homogenized form.  As Trish put it, milk only comes out of the cow in two forms- cream and skim, anything else is just computerized.  Mike and Trish suggest that if you would rather not drink the milk whole you can put it into a jar with a spigot (such as an iced-tea jar), which allows you to drink the skim milk and save the cream for making things like butter and ice-cream!  I typically drink it whole (since it's so darn delicious and I need the fat!) but would also love to start making things from the cream as they suggest!

Another cool thing is that the water they use to clean the holding tank is also the water they use to heat the pasturization machine (sorry- forgot the name!) and it is then passed into the barrel (I know there is a different and better word for it- forgive me!) that the cows drink from!  Talk about sustainable!  These people have thought of everything!

This family was truly inspirational to be around and talk to!  In fact, our family and the other family that we toured with actually ended up staying at the farm till 8:30pm (the tour was at 5:00pm) just talking, sharing and learning from the remarkable people!  Trish is passionate and full of knowledge herself on a whole plethora of topics.  I just want to apprentice under her to get a real crash course in good, old-fashioned homemaking!  She makes nearly everything from scratch (I am hoping to take a yogurt and cheese making class from her this summer!), homeschools her kids, seems to truly have her feet on the ground and her priorities in order, and so much more!

Being with this family on their precious little farm has only deepened my desire to move to the country- especially after seeing how much R-Man LOVED the experience!  The next day he kept asking if we were going back to the farm!  Which brings me to the really fun part- check out the rest of our pictures!

The "Wanna-be-Country" version of me, feeding a calf!  Woohoo!

Jer and Lion Cub

R-Man and his very good friend L- He thinks he is going to marry her someday... I'm okay with that! (Her mama is one of my best friends and my doula- so, I know she would have my grandbabies naturally!  Hehe!)

R-Man, L & N- checking out the cows- this one was only a week and a half old!!

R-Man trying to ride a donkey with the help of our friend Mr. C!

He was soon bucked off!

Cute donkeys just walk freely around the farm!

Tried to let Lion Cub take a ride too, but he freaked!

What R-Man really wanted to do was ride one of their horses!  Someday we'll have some buddy!

Collecting eggs from the hen house (I really want one of these!  Fresh eggs daily- sounds great!  Now I just have to convince the hubs!)!

Petting the bunny!

Hmmm... can you tell he's from the city?  L was actually the first one to do this and R-Man quickly followed suit!  So funny!

Mike and Trish have recently signed with a distributor which is taking their milk farther than they were able to themselves.  So, if you live in Washington, Idaho or Montana (maybe Oregon too- I can't remember!) you should seriously be on the look-out for it on your grocery store shelves!  It is the one with the black top and is typically found in the natural foods section.  It costs $4.99 a gallon (which is actually cheaper than organic even though its better!), or $3.50 (or 3 for $10) if you live locally and are able to pick it up from the farm.  (Speaking of which, I am working on putting together a small co-op of families to purchase the milk directly from the farm with. So, if you are local, shoot me an e-mail and I can give you more specifics!)

You can find this amazing farm online here and also on Facebook.  I truly believe that you can't find better milk, probably in this whole country (and I'm not exaggerating!), so if you come across it, be sure to pick up a gallon to not only support this amazing family but to also nourish your family the best way possible!