Wild Plum Farm
My farm was started as White Meadow Farm in 2009. It was a raw milk micro-dairy where I developed my own unique system of producing gently handled, rapidly cooled, nutrient dense milk that tastes amazing. I also became known for making the best raw yogurt to be found anywhere. And I had a lot of fun with my cows and my products (just check out my adorable ice cream book). But now it's a place where I continually learn about, and teach, principles of beautiful leadership by studying nature's flow systems and training with my dog and my horse.
Beauty on the Farm
What kind of cows do you have?
I have Jerseys and Normandes. Both are heritage breeds. Jerseys are the “classic” milk cows, with high milk solids and lots of cream. Normandes are from France, so lots of cream! They have also been bred for high milk solids for cheese-making and they are completely adapted to pasture, making them wonderful for grass-fed farms.
How many cows do you have?
At one point, I was milking 7, but now I just milk 1-3.
What do you feed the cows?
I have a soy-free, corn-free operation. In the summer, the cows are on pasture. In the winter, they get hay. When the cows come in for milking, they are given a probiotic and individually supplemented with a choice of either alfalfa or molasses/beet, depending on their protein and carbohydrate needs. I have put much work into getting maximum “wow” factor for milk flavor in part by making sure that the protein and carbohydrate balance is just right for each individual cow.
Do the cows get any minerals?
Yes! The cows have individual free choice minerals as well as free choice access to salt, Dyna-Min™ (Jerry Brunetti), and kelp. I am endlessly fascinated by the effects of minerals on health and the ability of the cows to self-regulate this. Check out my blog post.
What do you do with the calves?
I know that cows, calves, and customers are all much happier when the calves are raised naturally. I go to great lengths to make this happen. The calves have full access to mom for about 4 weeks. After that they are with mom for roughly 12 hours/day. They are weaned around 10 months of age.
How do you milk the cows?
The cows are milked one at a time under vacuum into a closed milk can.
How do you cool the milk without a bulk tank?
Right after milking, the milk is filtered and poured into new 1/2 gallon milk jugs. The jugs are then placed in rapidly circulating 32 degree water, chilled by a state-of-the-art industrial chiller. The milk is completely cooled in under 15 minutes.
Even when you had a lot more cows, why did you go with milk cans and a water bath instead of a pipeline and bulk tank?
1) With my current set-up, I can cool the milk faster than all but the best bulk tank systems.
2) Milk tastes better, lasts longer, and is healthier when handled very gently, so as not to break up the delicate fat molecules. Pipelines and bulk tanks create a fair amount of turbulence for the milk.
3) Pipelines and bulk tanks require a lot of chemicals for cleaning. My system doesn’t.
4) I LOVE experiencing the different flavors and characteristics of each cow’s milk when collected separately. Some cows have perfect milk for drinking with savory foods. Some make amazing yogurt and ice cream. Some are butter cows. This is just too much fun to miss out!
Is your yogurt truly raw?
Yes! The milk is never heated above 100 degrees. Yogurt is my passion. I have put tons of time and effort into figuring out how to consistently make absolutely delicious truly raw yogurt for maximum health benefits. You can find links to many yogurt posts here.
Do you do any testing on your milk?
Yes! I get bacteria and coliform counts monthly. Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures in California has set the standard for raw milk. His message is that we must be better and cleaner than “the other guys”, and he stands behind it by posting his bacteria counts. I love what he is doing and have decided to join in.
Do you do any testing for diseases?
Yes! I think all farms should test for everyone’s peace of mind. I test for Johne’s because of its possible relation to Crohn’s disease in humans. My cows are negative.
Are your cows A2 beta-casein?
The A2 theory about human health is very interesting, but far from proven. Both my Jerseys are A1/A2. Several people drink their milk that have had trouble with Holstein milk, though, so I think there is much we don’t understand about milk tolerance. I do not yet have results for my Normande.