Wisconsin is The Dairy State. Therefore it would be safe to assume that a restaurant could purchase dairy products from a neighbor farmer. This is not the case. Wisconsin produces a many dairy products but the milk to make the products is pooled from many different locations, many different states, and is blended locally. Sassy Cow Creamery is different. James and Robert Baerwolf, the owners of Sassy Cow Creamery are lifelong dairymen, having followed their parents around the farm at a very young age. They raise their own cows and produce their own milk. It is this milk from which the dairy products at Sassy Cow Creamery are made.
The cows of Sassy Cow Creamery are treated well. We have seen it for ourselves. When the weather is warm, the herd is put out to the pastures to graze. As the fall turns cold and wet, the heifers are taken off the pastures and brought inside the barns. All of the food they eat during the winter is harvested from the farm. There are approximately 100 cows producing organic milk and over 400 cows producing conventional milk.
You can tell the difference. The three most popular milks we serve are skim, cream-line, and chocolate. The skim milk looks more like milk than the typical watery whitewash purchased at the grocery store, the cream-line is downright thick and yellow, and the chocolate rich and creamy. The only liquid which is creamier and richer than this is raw milk.
What is it like to own a dairy farm and live with the herd? Kristin Kimball describes it this way in her book The Dirty Life. “There is no better lesson in commitment than the cow. Her udder knows no exceptions or excuses. She must be milked or she’ll suffer from her own fullness, and then she’ll get sick or dry up. Morning and evening, on holidays, in good weather and in bad, from the day she gives birth to her calf until the day ten months later when you dry her off, your cow is the frame in which you must fit your days, the twelve-hour tether beyond which you may no longer travel. What she gives you in exchange for your commitment is impressive.”
Our friend, Loren Johnson, another lifelong dairy farmer takes the commitment another step in his care of his animals. Every summer he employs young people to help with the milking, feeding, and care of his animals. When the new employees arrive with their ipods and portable disc players, Loren explains his farming philosophy to the newbies. Music soothes the soul of both people and animals. If we are to have music, then it must be shared with the cows who are doing the hard work and providing the milk. Singing is the music species of choice. Milking the cow by hand thus becomes a physically meditative process for the milker. For the cow, the letdown of milk produces hormones, oxytocin, the same hormone that gives nursing mothers the glazed drunk look of love. Music can only enhance the process.