Milkhouse Farm and Dairy
My friend, Bill Dobson, shown above, took me to visit Milkhouse Farm and Dairy yesterday run by his daughter and son-in-law, Caitlan and Kyle White.
Caitlan first wanted to be a doctor then a psychologist, but eventually saw the light and now makes artisanal, organic cheese with her husband. They sell enormous wheels of cheese at farmers’ markets every weekend for $100 each, and they sell lots of them–at least 30 a week.
When we visited the farm, it was near dinner time for both humans and sheep. Bill warned me that the sheep are noisier than most people are before they’re fed, but assured me they would be quieter afterwards.
Here’s what I learned during my visit (I am now a 30-minute expert):
-they milk 68 ewes
-it’s better to be born a female if you are a sheep since most of the males are sold for meat, hence, you’ll live longer
-they have two rams to service the females, but only really need one
-the other is a spare
-they apply a harness around the ram’s private parts equipped with a crayon so they know which of the females are in heat (ie, have been bred the next day and which haven’t)
-the ewes are milked 2x per day
-they get a break in October
-a break during which time they party and have sex (once)
-5 months (of gestation) later (in the spring), presto magic, baby lambs
-the best looking (oops, the most productive) milkers are kept around/the others are sold for meat, so not all females are created equal
-all parts of these animals are used
-wool is made into scarves and duvets by local entrepreneurs
-sheep skins keep babies warm
Apparently, their wool is the cleanest around and free of ticks. How come? Because they use rotational grazing. What’s that?
They have multiple pads (12 paddocks in all) and only allow the sheep to graze in one for three days. Then they’re moved to the next one.
That allows grasses to recover faster (sheep eat their desert first; ie, the sweetest part of the plants, their tops) and, because the sheep are not lying down in their own dung, no ticks…
How do they keep weeds down? They spray deadly chemicals, of course. Just kidding.
Turns out buckwheat is highly digestible by humans, but deadly to weeds so they mix buckwheat seeds in with grass seeds and, abracadabra, no weeds.
“Why,” I ask Bill, “don’t more farmers do this?”
“It’s a lot faster just to spray, but it’s criminal what we are doing to the food supply and the environment,” he answers.
@ profbruce @ quantum_entity
ps see the barn above? Caitlan and Kyle plan to turn it into a home soon…