CHECK OUT MY ADORABLE ICE CREAM BOOK, FILLED WITH DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TRUE COW TALES.
My farm is where I am happiest. Established in 2009 as a raw milk micro-dairy, the first 7 years of running it, from total newbie to expert, was the most tiring and energizing, frustrating and exciting, heart-wrenching and heart-fulfilling, beautiful time of my life.
I began by hand-milking two cows and chilling milk in the freezer. Over the course of several years, while expanding to milking seven cows, I developed my own unique system of producing gently handled, rapidly cooled, nutrient dense milkthat 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 ice cream book.
I have my farm for the purpose of being deeply connected with nature, and for the joy of producing the most delicious food I have ever eaten. The farm is where I come to understand things. Nearly every great ah-ha I have had has come during, or shortly after, that peaceful, deeply connecting time of milking the cows. I love milking the cows.
I no longer sell raw milk because the farm serves another purpose for me now. But if you come here, you can surely try it. (I do sell a small amount of other high-end farm products though. (xxx LINK xxx)). After 7 years of connecting more and more with nature's ways, I came to understand the answer to a question I'd been asking since I was 11: "What made horse trainer Nuno Oliveira so beautiful in his work. That was really what I was seeking when I started the farm. Whenever you read about someone that went off into the wilderness and returned with some great truth, it was always 7 years. I guess that's how long it takes.
My farm is a place where I can study nature directly every day. It’s where I observe how life really works because, in the end, nature has the final say.
In the spring, the wild plums are one of the first things to bloom on my farm. They're incredibly beautiful. I know they have bloomed by their heavenly fragrance wafting through the air and the buzzing of hundreds of delighted bees. In August, we eagerly await the ripening of the plums. They, too, are extremely fragrant, smelling perhaps even more heavenly than the flowers. A walk near the plums is intoxicating. Even the dogs will forgo their meat for some plums. Then it's time to make our signature Wild Plum Jam. The flavor is exquisite.
Plums are a very sensuous fruit, with the wild ones being ever so much more interesting than the cultivated varieties. I imagine them to be a lot like the apples Michael Pollan writes about in The Botany of Desire, luring us in like bees to help them thrive while providing pleasure and sustenance in return. The plums represent the design to align, which is what my farm is all about. From the land, plants, and animals, to nutrition and flavor, from human-animal bonds to leadership, my farm is a study in what makes things work together.
My farm was started as a raw milk micro-dairy in 2009, 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 ice cream book!).
But now it's a place where I continually learn about and teach principles of beautiful leadership by studying flow systems in nature. That is what I was really seeking when I started my farm. While I no longer sell raw milk (although I do sell other high-end farm fare), I can't stop milking the cows. Nearly every great ah-ha I have had has come during, or shortly after, that peaceful, deeply connecting time of milking the cows. I love milking the cows.
Wild Plum Farm is a place for you to connect with your true nature and enjoy delicious food. It's a place for understanding how we are all designed to align, and a place for fun. It's a place for learning about beautiful leadership. It's a good place to be.
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. I post my counts here.xxxxxxxxx
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.