Cows, Cows, Cows

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots β€˜N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Before the Stonyfield Blogger Barnstorming Tour, I didn’t think twice about cows. To be honest, I thought they were dirty, smelly animals. But, after “getting to know” a bunch of them, I think cows are adorable, sweet, and sort of “magical!” πŸ˜‰

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Our first cow encounter of the trip took place atΒ Howmars Farm in Franklin, Vermont.Β Howmars Farm is a certified organic dairy that supplies some of the milk that goes into making Stonyfield’s yogurts and smoothies. For more than 13 years, Howmars Farm has produced organic milk.

When we arrived, Jonathan Gates gave us a tour of his farm and answered a ton of our questions. He lives on the farm with his wife and three sons and manages the farm operations.

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Jonathan has “closed herd” of 50 milking cows, which we met face-to-face during our visit. (A “closed herd” means that the animals within a herd are all bred from within the herd. Animals are not purchased and incorporated into the herd.)

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Jonathan’s cows were so friendly! As soon as they saw us, they came right over. Each of the cows has a name, so it was fun meeting them! πŸ˜‰

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A mob of cows, of course, encouraged us bloggers to snap a bunch of photos. It’s not like we get to hang out with cows everyday! πŸ˜‰

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I received a few questions about what happens to old (organic) cows once they are no longer able to produce milk. We asked Jonathan this question and he replied by saying that they’re typically slaughtered (on the farm or at a local facility) and turned into beef. In fact, 48% of hamburger meat in the US is from dairy cows.

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So, Jonathan’s response wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s part of the business and livelihood of farmers and their families. Jonathan would go bankrupt if he kept all of the non-milking cows on his farm, so he ends up selling 10-12 cows each year.

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There is one old cow, however, that still lives on Howmars Farm. Deana is 15-years-old and no longer produces milk. Even still, Jonathan “can’t put her on a truck.” He definitely has a special place in his heart for her.

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A number of times while chatting with us, Jonathan pet his cows on the head like he would his family dog. You could tell that he really cared about each of them.

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Ahhh, a kiss from Deana! πŸ˜€

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This farmer lets his cow kiss him– how can you not buy organic!? πŸ˜‰

In addition to learning all about cows, Jonathan taught us about “rotational grazing,” which is a common practice used by organic dairy farmers. In fact, all of the farmers that we met used this technique. Rotational grazing is periodically moving the cow herd to different fields to allow them to graze on fresh pasture and let the previous pasture re-grow.

In the video below, Jonathan moves the fence to allow the cows into the new pasture. They all seem to know what’s about to happen and follow him. In theΒ second video, they run into the new field and start chewing away.

Mmm… grass! Nom, nom, nom! πŸ˜€

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Grazing benefits cows because they absorb all of the vitamins and minerals from the pasture, which is then converted into more nutritious milk for us. (More about this later!)

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After spending a good hour out in the cow pasture, we headed inside to see Jonathan’s milking house and try some of his cows’ milk. We were happy to see that his wife baked us a little surprise to go along with the fresh milk! πŸ˜€

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She made us blueberry muffins fromΒ The Stonyfield Farm Yogurt Cookbook! πŸ˜€

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Jonathan’s wife had a first edition of the cookbook! Cool!

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If you’re curious, the milk that we drank was raw. (Yes, we’re daredevils! πŸ˜‰ ) It all comes back to knowing your farmer and where your food comes from. It tasted delicious– cool and creamy! πŸ˜€

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It was really neat meeting a farmer in person and seeing how my food is produced. I swear, the milk tasted a million times better than the store-bought stuff because I met the cows who made it. Sometimes I feel like I am soΒ disconnected when it comes to where my food comes from, but experiencing it firsthand on the farm made me feel even better about choosing organic.

P.S. There’s at least 4 more posts to come so stay tuned! :mrgreen:

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84 Comments

  1. so glad that you loved the raw milk! we get our milk from a local farmer and it, too, is raw πŸ™‚ people get really freaked out by it because it’s unpasteurized, etc, but it actually is better for us because of the nutrients that don’t need to be added back in, the naturally occurring lactase that makes it easy to digest, etc. thanks for reporting back!

  2. Hey Tina,
    Just curious, did meeting those cows make you think differently about eating them?

    I think it’s great that you’re learning so much. Seems like an amazing experience πŸ™‚

  3. Oh those cows are so gorgeous πŸ™‚ That picture of the cow being kissed totally reminds me of my horse πŸ˜› I think that’s part of the reason why I ca’t eat meat :s
    What a lovely day anyway! It looks fun πŸ™‚

  4. Tina,

    Looks like you are having a blast on the tour. Funny that you thoughts guys were dirty and smelly. I love cows, and I have no idea why. Whenever my husband and I are driving through the country and see cows in the pasture, I insist on stopping to see if I can pet them. I just love them and would totally let them kiss me if I had one as a pet. I’m a little jealous of your first hand experience. Enjoy

  5. Oh Tina, it sounds like you’re having such an incredible time! I’m interested in Denise’s question as well, hopefully you don’t find it offensive πŸ™‚ enjoy!

  6. It sounds like your trip was really eye-opening. I’m glad you shared your experience with us. πŸ˜€

    Those cows look really sweet! Deana’s cow-kisses made me smile. My cats kiss me, but I’ve never seen a cow do it!

  7. @denise: I don’t eat a lot of meat, but knowing that these cows lived a long, happy life is comforting in a way. Plus, touring all of the farms and meeting the farmers made me realize the importance of choosing organic (meat included), so the next time I eat meat, I know I’ll feel better knowing that the animals weren’t mistreated.

  8. I love cows! They are just so freakin’ adorable. Their faces just look so friendly and innocent! I love this segment you are sharing with us. A lot of people have told me that raw milk is just incredible. I have never experienced it and since I can’t drink it anyway, I will live vicariously through you on this one. Thank you for sharing with us!

  9. I’ve always heard that cows are really sweet in person…just like a family dog or something. In fact, I think that goes for a LOT of farm animals…but we’ve become so disconnected from where our food comes from, that we don’t think twice about the fact that we’re eating animals, just like cats or dogs.

    What a great day– I can see how something like that would provide a totally new perspective on farming and organics!

  10. Such fun! My boyfriends family owns beef cattle, and it is wild to see how different they look from dairy cattle! We live next door to the farm, and I love walking down there with the dogs and saying hi to the cows πŸ™‚

  11. I love this post! For some reason I have this bizarre obsession with seeing cows roaming on green pastures. While in Europe, every time I saw cows on a farm I would point out the “happy cows!” and inform anyone around me about how much better it was for a cow to graze on grass instead of corn surpluses.
    The video of the cows moving is great! Haha I am glad you had a good time!

  12. Never knew cows were so interesting. πŸ™‚ I’ve always wanted to try raw milk.
    Can’t wait to hear more!

  13. Not only did the raw milk taste better because you met the cows, but it also hasn’t had all the nutrients cooked out of it during the pasteurization process. You drank some really good probiotics and super healthy, undamaged fats!

  14. Even though they’re slaughtered after they can no longer produce milk, it’s much better than being raised specifically for slaughter. Plus, they lived a good life while they did! I like this post- it shows cows have personalities! πŸ˜€

  15. This post warms my heart. It’s excellent to see a farmer treating his animals humanely like they deserve! And although it’s not always rainbows and happy endings as I learned in a great movie that’s “the circle of life” πŸ˜‰

  16. they’re so cute!!!! i love cows… would like to have one for a pet if it were feasible πŸ˜‰
    i rarely eat cow’s dairy but always buy stonyfield for the pilot and the puppies (they love yogurt and strawberries). it’s good to know that the cows and treated well <3

  17. I’ve always had a kindred connection with cows. It makes me happy to see when others see how special they are, too.

  18. As a former Dairy Princess (no joke, I held that title, I was so cool haha) I’m so glad you’re checking out how great healthy, organic farms are and how great milk can be coming straight from the source! I worked for a local dairy all through high school and really came to know and love the dairy industry πŸ™‚

  19. So glad you are so excited to learn all about this stuff, Tina. I love knowing the farmers I am getting my food from! CSA’s are the best for the fresh veggies and eggs! Can’t wait to hear more. πŸ™‚

  20. I think I loved this post the most out of all of the Stonyfield posts, so far.
    I loved seeing the videos of the cows and knowing the personal stories about the cow kisses and the one old cow the farmer couldnt get rid of. And i LOVE that you had Raw Milk! Right now its hard to find in California (except at Farmer’s Markets and a few stores here and there), what with Whole Foods discontinuing it (for the time being), but I love me some buttery, creamy raw milk. Yum.

  21. Very interested in what you learned about raw milk. Is it really better for you? Are you going to seek it out for your regular milk purchases? I’ve been encouraged by someone to go this route, and just haven’t been able to take the plunge.

  22. I have a soft spot for cows-I had 3 growing up! I learned very young that cows are not pets. We ate ours. (I’m actually a vegetarian now). But they are very friendly and I named all of mine. Actually they got out a few times and we had to chase after them down the road. They’re deceivingly quick, but easily distracted by some grass to munch on! Thanks for all the great information on organics, I’m learning a lot!

  23. What an incredible experience!! Your photos are so great….every one of those cows look very sweet and not at all dirty! : )

  24. great post! I haven’t been on a working dairy farm since I was in middle school and visiting family when the farm was still viable. It’s sad how many family dairy farms have gone out of business, so it’s nice to see this and how they’ve kept it small and active. Thanks for sharing!

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