One thing that I’ve really been focused on lately was trying to find a local source of milk. There are several dairies in Massachusetts, and even some that are quite near to us, but most of them sell only ultra-pasteurized milk. This won’t work for us, because one of the main things we do with our milk is make cheese and the ultra-pasturization process destroys all of the lovely little enzymes and bacteria that make cheese work. (And it just tastes plain nasty.)
Usually once ever two weeks or so we go by Pete’s parents house and have dinner with them and his grandmother. They live in an impossibly picturesque part of the state (in a state full of impossibly picturesque places) and one of my favorite places we pass is a little place called Hornstra Farms. It’s an old converted barn with a small loading dock and a small garage with several old-fashioned refrigerated trucks inside.
It sits on a stretch of green, pristine pasture, but I never saw any cows around. Pete told me that as a child, he remembered drinking Hornstra Farms milk at his school, which isn’t too far away. (He was milk monitor! Isn’t that adorable!?) He has particular fond memories of their chocolate milk, which he swore was the best in the world- this was obviously before Lactose declared war on his innards. I’ve always kept an eye out for their milk in the grocery stores, but haven’t ever seen it and I just chalked it off as a picturesque place I liked to drive by, but never thought of actually getting milk from them.
Well, last night we were driving by on the way to his parents house and I mused that it would be nice to get milk from a really local dairy and wasn’t it a shame that I never could find any from Hornstra Farms. We decided, on a whim, to pull in and see if I could find where to buy it. There isn’t a visible office or anything, so I wasn’t sure there was even anyone to talk to, but as we pulled in, a guy with a big smile stepped out from behind one of the milk trucks and gave us one of those “come on in!” waves. We got out of the car and walked over to him and I told him that I was looking for a local source of milk and I was never able to find them in the grocery stores. “Can we buy the milk directly from you,” I asked. He gave me a strange kind of look and said, “Well sure! The reason you can’t find us in the stores is because we only do home delivery!”
We were, of course, thrilled. He said that the milk actually came from their dairy in New Hampshire (drat!) but that it was just over the border and the brought it in fresh every single day. The milk that we would have delivered would have come out of the cow the day before. He also told me that they are in the process of purchasing farm land a few miles away and that they would then be moving their herd down to the area around me, so it would all be local Massachusetts milk. I asked him the golden question- ultra pasteurized?- and he didn’t know the answer, but he said that he knew who would. He led us into the barn, through the milk trucks, up past the big freezer, by cartons upon cartons upon CARTONS of glass milk bottles, and up into the top of the converted barn where there was a charmingly haphazard office. He went down the back stairs and brought up Mrs. Hornstra herself with her lumbering black lab Chip right behind her. She said down and talked with us for a brief moment (“I’m so sorry, but I have dinner on the stove!”) and let us know that it wasn’t ultra-pasteurized and it came from their own personal herd that lived on her cousin’s farm in New Hampshire.
They aren’t strictly organic, but it is entirely hormone-free and they are committed to keeping their cows and happy and healthy as possible. The cows are raised in Massachusetts (four of them, in fact, are on an organic farm that is run by a friend of Pete’s) before they go up to become the milkers and she implied that the move to Massachusetts was happening very soon.
They were so friendly and warm and we signed up right on the spot. They didn’t even require a deposit or anything, just my name and signature on a piece of paper. When I mentioned that we were planning on going and buying milk on the way home, they sent us home with a gallon of theirs. As we were on our way out, Mrs. Hornstra came out to grab a gallon of milk for their dinner (their home is attached to the back of the barn, I think) and I heard from an unseen child: “Mom! Can we have chocolate milk?” Her answer, with a smirk to us, “Not with dinner!”
I guess it’s still that good.
Our first delivery is today, and I’ve ordred two gallons of milk- farmhouse cheddar, here we come! I can’t WAIT to get home!
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