At the Methow Creamery cows come first. Whether it’s the sign in the barn reminding all who enter that the 30 cows are foremost or the personal attention each gets – it’s that extra touch that sets these cows apart.
“These cows have it made,” said owner Ron VanderYacht who milks the 30 cows using a bucket milker instead of a conventional fixed pipeline system to protect the milk from potential contamination by bacteria or cleaning chemicals that may remain inside a closed line system.
At an early September Farm Walk, sponsored by WSU Small Farms Team and Tilth Producers of Washington, participants tried their hand at milking while learning how the cows live out their days on lush Methow acreage.
VanderYacht and his wife Elise Knight feed their pure Holsteins and Jersey crosses completely on organic pasture and hay. The goal of crossbreeding is to achieve high butterfat and protein content from the Jerseys and increased production from the Holsteins.
Norman Suverly, WSU Okanagan County Extension Director, said their commitment to the community is evident with outreach.
“They provide many tours on the farm – especially to kids – and have a great tie in with the community and their customers which is very important if you want to be successful in a direct marketing agricultural operation,” said Suverly. “They know their customers and their customers know their commitment to quality and the environment. Many people in the Methow Valley consider it ‘their’ dairy,” he added.
VanderYacht, a third generation dairyman, produces premium quality hay and uses intensive rotational grazing management to ensure the highest possible forage quality. Being 100 percent grassfed results in lower production per cow, but improves herd health and overall farm profitability by reducing input costs. He expects to get up to twelve years of milk production per cow compared to three to four years at a conventional dairy.
The Methow Creamery provides Grade A unpasteurized, organic milk and cream locally as well as to stores in Spokane, Chelan, Federal Way, and Tacoma. In addition, they sell organic hay and grain from their 800-acres. Grain varieties include soft white wheat, hard red spring wheat, emmer, barley and oats.
By Betsy Fradd
WSU Small Farms Program