FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
about Winter Hill Farm...
- Can I come visit the farm?
- Do you sell Randall cattle?
- Is Winter Hill certified organic?
- What do the cows at Winter Hill eat?
- Why raw milk?
- How do Randalls compare to other breeds of dairy cows?
- Where do you sell your products?
- How can I join your CSA?
- What kinds of products might you offer in the future?
- Why don’t you sell cream or butter?
- Do you have any jobs of volunteer positions?
YES! We encourage you to! While we love to show people around the farm and answer their questions, we don’t always have the time to do so. The best thing to do would be to contact us to set up a time to come see us. You can find directions here.
Yes, on occasion we will sell a calf or a pair of calves, mostly to people who want to train them as working oxen. Check our blog or facebook page to keep updated on when we have calves available, or contact us for more information.
We currently are not certified organic. Though we adhere to organic standards and even consider most of our practices to go beyond the minimum needed to be certified organic, there are a number of reasons that we have not yet chosen to seek certification. First, because we keep this herd of extremely rare cattle, we like to reserve the ability to use antibiotics when ABSOLUTELY necessary. If any of our cows were to get sick and need treatment, we would like to be able to treat them. In order to be certified organic, we could never treat our cows with antibiotics under any circumstance and still be able to keep them as a milker in our herd.
Beyond that, we believe that the very best way for consumers to feel confident in the food that they are eating is to know the farm and farmer. We feel that we have the opportunity here on this farm and within this community to be completely transparent. We want and encourage people to come see the farm, ask questions, and trust what we are doing. We completely understand the need and value for third party certification for people who do not have the opportunity to have a relationship with their farm/ers, but we feel that we have the privilege to make that connection with our community and customers and feel confident that we can build this trust.
Our cows are fed a grass-based diet. We can count on our cows being out on pasture from May through October here in Maine. The other half of the year we need to feed the cows grass in the form of hay and baleage. Baleage is a fermented hay that has been wrapped tightly in plastic to keep it from degrading. It has a higher moisture content than hay bales, and is generally thought to be of higher quality than hay because the plastic keeps the baleage from deteriorating. In addition to fresh pasture, hay and baleage, our milking cows get a ‘treat’ of grain when they come in at milking time. There are a number of reasons for this. First, it gets them in the barn! Second, because they are producing high quality milk for us, they need a little extra nutrition. Grain is high in protein which helps the cows to maintain milk production. Cows were not meant to exist on an exclusive grain diet, but a little ration of grain in moderation is beneficial to our cows.
Because it tastes so darn good! If you haven’t had raw milk, you probably wouldn’t know the difference. But compared to pasteurized milk, raw milk is much more complex and delicious. Beyond that, we believe raw milk has definitive health benefits. The process of pasteurization destroys microorganisms; in practice this is to kill any potential pathogens, but in the process it destroys all of the great beneficial organisms in the milk too, as well as breaking down amino acids and other important nutrients. There are many other arguments that are made in favor of raw milk for its health benefits, though there is much debate in the scientific community about these.
We do know that clean raw milk from healthy cows fed a grass based diet is considered a complete and properly balanced food. We strive to keep our dairy extremely clean and our cows in good health in order to provide good, healthy unpasteurized milk for the growing numbers of consumers who seek it out. We believe that raw milk should be a choice that educated consumers can make for themselves and their families.
We are very lucky to live in a state in which raw milk is still legal. We are a licensed and inspected raw milk dairy. A state inspector comes and takes samples of all of our products on a regular basis to be tested at the state lab.
Randalls went to the brink of extinction for a reason. Our cows cannot match the standard dairy cow breeds when it comes to milk production. Randall cows produce very little milk when compared to the Holsteins and Jerseys that produce nearly all the milk consumed in the US. For this reason, and because the Randalls are less uniform (and thus harder to milk), these cows were nearly lost from the planet after the industrialization of the dairy industry and the move towards more uniform breeds that produce larger volumes of milk. This makes milking Randalls a huge challenge for us! Our cows make less than half of what a typical Holstein cow would produce per day, yet we need to remain competitive in the marketplace in order to sell our products. We hope that as we continue to talk to our community about the Randall cows, we can convince people that helping preserve this rare and historic breed is a worthwhile endevour.
You can find our products in a bunch of places. Click here for more information.
Please check out our CSA page and read all about it!
Our vision is to eventually become a ‘one stop shop’ CSA for our community. We plan to be able to supply families with their dairy, vegetable, fruit, meat, eggs, honey and more! We are slowly working our way toward this. We see our farm down the road with cows, chickens (layers and broilers), turkeys, pigs, sheep, vegetables, fruit trees, bee hives, and flowers. We hope to build a certified kitchen which would allow us to process the summer harvest for winter eating- think tomato sauces, pickles, jams. We understand that this will take a long time and that it may not all happen, but this is what we envision for the future of Winter Hill Farm.
There are a couple of reasons that we don’t sell certain dairy products. First, our Randall cows do not make a whole lot of cream. Second, we like to sell whole milk and not skimmed milk, and third, skimming milk for cream and butter is another step that requires time and tools that we do not have. We wish we could- we love cream and butter!
It is quite possible! Please contact us for more information.