We started off the day at Swissland Acres. While they had many great ideas, especially in regards to poultry, these people were a glaring example of what NOT to do when it comes to dairying--mainly, selling raw milk without any sort of testing or a legal permit.
At the State Senate Ag Committee Hearing on September 18th, during the open comments, they stood up and said they were operating under the "single cow exemption" and were quoted in news articles stating so, however, they are actually milking a small herd. "We each have one cow," I was told. But the crowning moment of idiocy came when they allowed a full grown breeding Jersey bull with horns to blow through two strands of electric fence (that was turned off so no one got shocked) into the same pasture with everyone checking out their pastured poultry. Despite reassurance that he was a "nice bull", anyone who has had any experience with breeding bulls knows that these animals are unpredictable and dangerous. Here was a group of strangers between a pawing, bellowing bull and his cows. Needless to say, many of us kept our eye on him until we were safely out of the pasture.
Marc Shearer shows off his brooder design. Above is their home-built killing cone system and drum-style feather plucker.
A delicious lunch was served at our second stop of the day--Spoutwood Farm, home to the Mother Earth Harvest Festival (this weekend!) and the infamous May Day weekend Fairy Festival. Our gracious hosts, Rob & Lucy Wood shared with us about their farm, which includes a 100-member CSA. We toured the gardens with Rob offering samples of freshly-picked herbs & vegetables as well as his wisdom.
Our third stop for the day was at Perrydell Dairy Farm, a third-generation dairy farm that bottles milk (legally, I might add) fresh at their farm. Although they only offered bottled raw goat milk from a neighboring (and permitted) farm, the Perrys hope to in the future be able to offer their customers raw cow milk after they transition from a conventional to grass-based dairy. For me, this was a great example of reality. Reality in dealing with circumstances and taking the time to effectively plan for expansion and change.