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Traditional dairy farmers often use confinement stalls, supplement hay or grass with grains, and are typically

much larger. The volume of milk they produce often fills a large bulk tank daily. They arent involved in bottling, production or distribution, and they rarely meet the end user. On the other hand, grass-fed dairies have cows grazing grass fields daily, bringing them in twice a day for milking. They are usually only confined if sick or about to calve.

The Art of Milk, LLC

The Art Groeneweg dairy, named The Art of Milk, LLC, is on Hwy 204 between Monroe and Duvall. The day after I visited was to be the first day their raw milk would be sold - in signature glass bottles no less - from a new stand in front of the dairy. Two decades ago I worked with Arts father, Jake, when the operation was more traditional. That farm partnership was eventually dissolved after Jake passed away. Since then, Art has been busy getting the farm back into pristine condition with a new business plan, ten Holstein cows, and a state-of-the-art bottling plant next to the milking parlor. Art may increase the number of cows he milks, but to no more than 40. That way, the cows get lots of attention and his operation stays manageable. According to Art, There is a real desire by people to know where their food comes from and to have a relationship with a local farmer. Art wants everything extremely clean to prevent the possibility of producing anything but the best quality, grade A, raw milk. Attention to detail is evident -- from the unique bottling system to the scaled-back milking parlor, which once milked 32 cows at a time, 16 on each side. Even the parlors cement floors have been refinished after the rubber mats were removed, all in the name of cleanliness. And I dont think Ive ever been in a milking parlor that didnt have spider webs; nope, none here.

Old Silvana Creamery, LLC

Jim Sinnemas family dairy - the Old Silvana Creamery, LLC - is just west of I-5 at Island Crossing. Jim has been producing raw milk in plastic cartons since the day after Thanksgiving, 2011. They currently sell 10 to 20 gallons a day, self-serve, out of a cooler on the farm, and another 200 gallons a week via delivery to area stores. Jim grew up on this dairy as one of five children, and well remembers the hard work and lack of vacations. He later ran a dairy with his brother in the 1990s, but stray electricity from a nearby power pole cost them all but 40 cows out of 150. Farming was over for the brothers, and other occupations kept Jim going. To this day, he still drives truck when needed. Jim and his wife have four children, all home-schooled, that help with the dairy. His 15- and 17-year-old sons help with the milking while mom does the bookkeeping. The Sinnema dairy milks Guernsey cows, a light brown and white cow known for producing a rich, golden milk which, when bottled, has a thick layer of cream floating on the top. Jim explains that Guernseys are rather rare in this area, and hard to come by. Most raw milk dairies milk either Jersey or Guernsey cows because of the high butterfat and rich color, which is the result of their stomachs not breaking down beta carotene like a Holstein cow. A cooler outside their barn is open from 6 am to 8 pm for customers to stop by and purchase milk. When I visited, a gentleman in shirt and tie stopped to buy milk, and asked Jim if he fed his cows hormones. Jim explained that he did not, and why he didnt. Not only does he not use hormones (which is better for the cows health), he uses no genetically modified feeds, chemical fertilizers or herbicides. Cows are out in the pasture all day and receive only a small amount of barley grain (produced without chemicals, fertilizers or herbicides) to entice them into the milking parlor. Like Art, Jim also would like to expand slowly, but only as long as it stays manageable, to maybe 31 cows. The farm originally consisted of 120 acres, but 100 acres were sold to help save the rest of the farm. There is land nearby available

to rent to help with expansion, but Jim seems happy with where his operation is now, and the fact that his family is nearby and sharing the farm experience.