A Visit to Creambrook Farm
Hi everyone, Michelle here! I’m dying to tell you guys about my recent visit to Creambrook Farm. Farmers Kristen and Ben Beichler were kind enough to take time out of their day to talk to me, which is saying a lot, because since they are still milking, there is no real “off-season” for them.
I went to visit at Creambrook because we are excited to be sourcing some new products for the Bellair Barn Store and I wanted to go out and meet some of the producers! Read on to find out more about their cows, their milk, and how you can get it!
Creambrook Farm is in Middlebrook, nestled into the rolling, rocky hills of the Shenandoah Valley. As I drive into the property, I’m greeted by rows of sugar maples and stands of hemlocks clustered around an old white farmhouse. The sky is grey and the grass is brown, but there is an undeniably serene and pastoral beauty to the place.
As soon as I meet Kristen, I feel completely at home. She is warm and kind and has a cute companion in her three-year-old son. We chat about how she and her husband first met while farming at Polyface Farm and then went on to work at a few other dairies before settling onto this property last summer. As Ben joins us, we check out the bulk tank in their dairy and their beautifully simple milking parlor.
We meander up to a pole barn and visit one of honestly the cutest calves I’ve ever seen. Ben and Kristen milk Jersey cows, known for their ultra-creamy milk, and their cows, especially the young ones, have coats of a light honey-brown color. The littlest calf was so wiggly, I couldn’t get a sharp photo!
We visited some older calves on the way out of the barn and then looked out over their pasture to their milking herd. Creambrook’s cows are raised completely on grass. At this time of year, that means supplementing with some hay and silage (fermented hay), but never grain. Raising cows this way makes for the healthiest animals and the yummiest milk! The ruminant-nature of cows makes it hard to process grain, and there is a noticeable difference in color, flavor, and creaminess from 100% grass-fed milk.
After hearing about all this good milk, I was excited to try some! I was in luck, because Kristen and Ben graciously invited me back to the milk room, where Ben turned on the agitator in the bulk tank and opened the tap right into a glass pitcher. We all had a nice big cup.
WOW. Let me tell you how good this milk is. It is very good. It is the kind of milk that is noticeably sweet. It is thick and creamy. It sits in your belly and makes you feel like a fat, smiling baby.
If you are feeling super jealous right now, don’t worry. There are a lot of ways to get your hands on some of this stuff. Creambrook sells much of their milk to Old Church Creamery in Mechanicsville, where it is low-temperature pasteurized, but not homogenized. Old Church also makes yogurt and kefir with some of the milk and their products are available in several retail locations in Charlottesville. During the CSA season, we will be selling Old Church Creamery products out of the Bellair Barn! Yay! This will make picking up your CSA share on Saturday more of a one-stop-shop and make me one step closer to my goal of never having to leave the farm for food!
And if you want the real-deal raw variety, that is an option, too! Creambrook sells herdshares, which is the way to get raw milk in Virginia. They offer whole or half gallon per week options and have two pickup locations in Charlottesville!
You can find out a lot more about Creambrook Farm on their website, including cheesemaking events and farm days coming up. Also be on the lookout workshops at Bellair on how to turn your milk into other yummy products like butter and yogurt!
We are super excited about this partnership and hope you are too! Tell us what you’re most excited to do with this yummy milk!