My cow eats grass all year at Pasture Haven Farm
As I sit down to write this, I’m drinking a cold glass of pure, creamy raw A2 milk from Pasture Haven Farm in Syracuse, IN. Just Saturday, Andrew and Norma Yoder showed my mom and me around their lovely farm where I had the chance to look directly into the big, sweet eyes of a Jersey cow, with less than two feet between our cold noses.
Dan and I are participating in Pasture Haven’s herdshare program. This is simply a contract between us and Pasture Haven in which we bought a share in the herd and are entitled to the products it produces. While it is illegal in the state of Indiana to sell healthful raw milk to the public, it is permissible to obtain and consume raw milk through the purchase of a cow in a herdshare program.
The debate surrounding raw vs. pasteurized milk is emotionally charged and full of misinformation. Many believe raw milk is by nature dangerous; that is not true. It is true that it could be contaminated from sick animals or poor conditions, just like any food could be. I would never drink raw milk from a large confined animal farm. But in the case of healthy, grass-fed cows, raw milk is far safer and more nutritious than the dead, white liquid available at the grocery story.
There are many reasons we choose healthy, local raw milk: it is packed full of good bacteria, improving gut health and boosting immunity; it contains enzymes vital to healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients; it’s a whole food – pasteurization and homogenization destroy the natural makeup of milk; its full of healthy fat; we can use it to make yogurt and other raw milk products; and finally, it just tastes better.
Pasture Haven feeds all of their animals on pasture, hay and fodder through the winter. Andrew and Norma showed us a little building that houses their grass fodder system for the winter. Every day from the middle of November though early spring they feed their cattle, pigs and chickens healthy, fresh green grass. And throughout the summer the animals roam the 105 acres feeding on whatever tasty plants they come across.
Andrew and Norma and their children have been focused on sustainable, healthy animal farming for about 3 years now. When we arrived, Norma held their youngest, Katie (just like me). She says that although their previous CAFO pork farm brought in more profit, they believe that their current style of farming contributes more to the health of their customers. She says she’s really enjoyed the community built around this smaller scale, healthy farm. Although it’s been 3 years, they still are looking to build a broader base of customers so they can continue to pursue natural practices and support their family of 8.
After walking us through the pig enclosure, where I had a chance to spy a bunch of tiny, nervous black piglets, a son hitched up a small cart and drove us out into the pasture to see the beautiful beef cattle. The cattle are mainly shaggy heirloom breeds. Their red Scottish Highland cattle looked like they could be related to us! (My mom is ½ Scottish, I’m ¼ and, we’re both a little shaggy.)
Pasture Haven produces all GMO-free, pastured eggs, chicken, pork and beef. Their about 70 chickens roost in old horse trailers so they can easily move the flock to new areas of pasture. The eggs have firm brown shells and bright, golden yolks – I know because I am making an egg pie as I write. I believe we may end up trying some of their pork soon as well.
If you’re interested in participating in Pasture Haven’s herdshare program or purchasing pasture-raised meat or eggs, you can contact Andrew and Norma at 574.642.9903 x.1. If the distance doesn’t seem manageable, perhaps you could find one or two others also interested in buying a share in the herd. That way you could take turns driving to pick up your weekly gallon of milk. In our case, our friend Gail does most of the driving and we share the rest of driving with our Mom and Chuck.
Pasture Haven Farm
14104 CR 48
Syracuse, IN 46567
If you’re interested to read more about raw milk, The Prairie Homestead has a good short rundown on why her family chooses raw milk. For a more in depth explanation of raw milk read “Raw Milk versus Pasteurized—Which Is Safer?” and for info on A2 milk read “What is A1 Versus A2 Milk?”