We're visiting with new friends today. This is Jake and Pauline Couture! They own a Maple Farm in Vermont that's just 5 miles south of the Canadian border! But it's not just the maple farm, they also have a dairy farm! Back in the 70s, they bought 2 cows, and they haven't bought another cow since!
Now the cow herd is up to 150, including the cows that are milked and the cows raised for beef. They were even voted the Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year!
Looking down the hill from the Sugar House, we can see the barns, some of the pastures, and a lot of the hay they've put away for winter. There's 9 different grazing pastures here, and the cows are always on the mooove. They'll eat the grass down in one pasture and move on to the next one. There are even pastures across the road. Some mornings, the ranchers keep an eye on the road looking for an opening and then the cows hustle across the asphalt of Route 100. Cars slow and stop while the cows are crossing, and they'll even hop out and take pictures.
A few years ago the Coutures sold the dairy farm to one of their workers in order to spend more time with the Maple Shop and Bed & Breakfast, but they're still very much involved in the day to day operations. Just a few days ago, Jake was saying he was in the fields bagging hay.
Unlike the Maple Syrup, which is only sold in the Maple Shop here, the organic milk they produce goes to Organic Valley for their milk and Stonyfield Organic Yogurt!
Just around the side, underneath the basketball hoop, is where the milk gets processed.
Jake showed us the equipment, how everything is sanitized, then attached to a cow's udder.
I see you cow.
All the cows are inside the barn waiting their turn to be milked. They enjoy a meal, and even have a pad they can press with their hooves to get fresh water.
Surprisingly to me, it doesn't smell like cow manure in here. It has a sweet and somewhat fermented smell, which must be coming from the feed.
The cows are pretty docile and tame.
Go ahead Ian!
She licked me!
And if we have milk cows, that also means that there must be baby calfs nearby.
Oh my goodness, they're so adorable!
They've just been bottle-fed, but some are extra hungry.
And they are quick to suck on anything that looks like a teat, fingers included.
Ian's pants must have been tasty too, because this one was very interested in them.
It's fun to see the baby calves and pet them.
These two kittens are recent additions to Couture Farms. A neighbor was giving them up and the Coutures took them in, hoping they'll make good barn cats when they get bigger. For now, they are certainly enjoying a bowl of fresh milk.
And they're still quite tame.
Hi kitty! Ian and Alli got to try to hold it, though they're not experienced, and I think the cat knew it. It had its claws in Ian's shirt and was climbing up onto his shoulder.
These cows seem happy. I turned my back on them and all of the sudden I had one trying to nibble my shirt. If you let one of them lick you, you can feel the roughness of their tongues.
All this food on the ground will be gone shortly, as the cows finish off their dinner. Jake told the kids about how cows how 4 stomachs and swallow their food the first time, and then regurgitate it up to chew it again, a mouthful at a time. Eww!
The kids liked this gal's crazy hairdo.
One of the reasons it probably doesn't smell here is that the sawdust the cows stand and lay on is changed twice a day. There's a huge pile of it in the barn.
And because this is an organic farm, no pesticides are allowed to be used. How do they keep the flies at bay? There's huge spools of this fly line and for some reason the flies are attracted to it. There's thousands of flies stuck to these lines, and when it gets too full, they unwind a bit more and get a fresh strand.
Feeling the pipes, they are warm! The milk flows down these pipes to the holding tank, and it comes out of the cows at around 100F.
And that takes us all the way back to the processing room. That pipe leads to the vacuum tank and when it gets full it pushes it on to the holding tank.
In the holding tank, it starts to get chilled, while it waits for the milk truck to pick it up.
I remember years and years ago when I was growing up, we lived near a dairy. We took our glass jars in to holding tanks very similar to this one, filled them up, and paid for them at the main office. I remember loving milk growing up, and this is probably why. My family would go through 3-4 gallons of milk in a week!
Jake, do you sell the milk directly?
Jake - Yes, for $5 a gallon, but you need a container.
I didn't have any large containers, but I do have a few of these water bottles that I filled for the trip up here. I poured out the water and Jake started filling them up for me.
And back inside their Maple Shop, they've got some pretty good prices for grass-fed beef. $12/lb for Filet Mignon and $11.25/lb for Ribeyes. I think I know what we'll be having for dinner soon.
From the Couture Dairy Farm, I came home with raw milk, filets, and ribeyes. The milk is not homogenized, so if I let it sit, a layer of cream will form at the top.
How should we cook the steaks? How about over an open campfire!
Ian and Alli helped me gather the wood, and Ian helped me get everything lit. I borrowed an oven rack from my RV oven to cook the steaks on.
A little bit of campfire smoky flavor.
While I was making the steaks, Theresa was busy making hasselback potatoes. Cut about halfway through into thin slices, this was tasty with butter. The steaks were great and the milk was delicious. It was a tasty meal!
Ian - Cutre farm - My favorite part was getting maple candy. We saw a video on how to make maple syrup. We saw cows. The cat is cute. A baby cow went to town on my pants. It is fun.
Alli - Coohcr farms - My favorite prt was seeing cows. We bot fresh milk. We tasted his mapl candys. I felt good. he gav us free vegetables.
I'll finish with a video they produced showing the things that go on at their farms. They were both very nice people and we had a fantastic time visiting with them.
Quite a history behind those sugar maple trees...like how the farm is self-sustaining in its maple syrup making operations. Look how just 2 cows became 150...what a return! The cows left quite an impression on the kids. Ian comes up with unexpected words at times...."A baby cow went to town on my pants!"...another good one Ian :-) Interesting to see the milking operation and then being able to get some of that fresh milk...can't get any fresher than that. Looks like the fly trap line was working! The steak looks perfectly done, along with the potato...looks like a feast washed down with fresh milk (that's a real bargain price on organic grass-fed beef!...won't get those prices at my local Whole Foods!) What a great day visiting the Couture Maple Shop/Sugar House and Dairy Farm, and all personally guided by Jake (thank you Jake & Pauline for your kindness)! EOMReplyDelete