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THE PERFECT LITTLE DAIRY FARM

Jersey cows make the richest milk. High Lawn in the

town of Lee, Massachusetts is the breed's mother lode.


The happy, healthy herd of Jersey cows at High Lawn Farm.


Before waxing wonderstruck about the incomparable delights of High Lawn Farm, we need to talk about the dairy business in general... and, as your Grumpy Old Man-Splainer, to do that I need to compare and contrast the milk business with the wine business.


Some wineries– for better or worse, an ever-dwindling number– are small, hands-on properties ("estate wineries") that grow all of their own grapes and produce wine from them right on the premises. At the other end of the spectrum, mass producers of low-end box and jug wines commonly purchase finished bulk wine of indeterminate origin, tweak and/or manipulate its flavor, and then bottle it under a the name of winery that often exists only in cyberspace and on legal paperwork.


Parallels exist in the dairy industry... and yet freshly-extracted milk and newly-squeezed wine are very different things. Though each contains the agents of its own demise, raw milk is far more susceptible than wine to unseen pathogens, far more sensitive to temperature variations, and has a shelf life measured in hours rather than years. It is accordingly essential that raw milk makes its journey from the dairy farm to the milk processing plant with all available urgency. Grape harvesting can certainly be a hectic affair; but once the harvest is in, meticulousness and patience in the cellar is usually rewarded with superior wine. In contrast, here's how most milk gets from the cow to your coffee–


A full-size milk hauler, complete with the extra axle to handle the weight.

Stainless steel (and the lack of anti-slosh baffles) makes them easy to sanitize.


As a trucker, I cannot help but admire my hard-working brothers and sisters who pilot these milk-hauling rigs. No matter what the weather, these specialized tanker trucks go to the dairy farm every stinking day and load up; the milk is IMMEDIATELY brought directly to a large milk plant, where all the incoming milk from multiple farms is mixed together; it is homogenized and pasteurized; and then it is packaged as one brand or another... and so when you buy it, you can't possibly know where exactly it came from.


But milk from what I'm dubbing "estate dairies" (like High Lawn Farm) take a shorter and much more transparent path– not only do they process the milk right on the premises, but you, the visitor, can oftrn stop by and see the actual cows as well as the verdant fields upon which they graze.


High Lawn Farm is an especially beautiful farm in an especially beautiful part of the world, my native Berkshire County in western Massachusetts. (Though I was raised near Rochester, NY, I was born in the Berkshires and thereby claim dual citizenship.) I recently biked there (in a thunderstorm!) from a truck stop in order to bring home some of their fabulously rich and delicious heavy cream. High Lawn's on-site ice cream trailer makes it possible to enjoy their product right at its source, and they also sell a variety of estate cheeses. I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.


* * * * * * *


Milk (and milk products) from estate dairy farms is more expensive and harder to find... and yet for those of us who like to source better food from closer and more direct sources, overcoming such challenges is well worth the effort.


NOTES:

On the way home from my trucking work week yesterday I took a hundred-mile detour to visit two Finger Lakes wineries and a boutique sawmill. Along the way I found THIS suggestion that there might actually be hope for the continuation of decent civilization as we know it–



The Jersey Bell Dairy Farm on Route 96 in Waterloo, NY sells raw milk from grass-fed Jersey cows from a roadside honor-system stand. Their website appears to be down as I write this, but their detailed info is available HERE.




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