Kate and Kevin improved their milking routine with the addition of an enclosed milk room within their existing parlor. The new milk room houses a stainless steel double sink with a 33-gallon Milkpan bulk tank.
Without the bulk tank, Kate and Kevin had to break after each cow and strain the milk into half-gallon mason jars, then submerge those jars into coolers of ice for rapid cooling. Since cows prefer to enter and leave the parlor quickly, stopping after each cow to jar and chill milk is undesirable. Plus, they had to travel 40 minutes round trip every day to pick up ice for their chilling tank. The upgrade decreases this need for ice, saving driving time and fuel.
“With a bulk tank, the time consuming process of straining milk into jars is done at a later time, and the milk is strained more quickly and efficiently directly into a bulk tank,” Kate said. “This makes for happier cows and saves time and resources overall.”
Rapid chilling of milk increases shelf life of raw milk and makes a better product for creating cheese. Since milking the cows and bottling happen separately, keeping the milk sanitary is easier. Milking also becomes more straightforward so that a trusted farm hand can take on the job. The bulk tank decreases milking time by one hour each day, so that the Jersey cows can spend more time grazing.
With these new efficiencies, resources can be spent ensuring the dairy’s long-term sustainability, such as moving to grade B certification so Kate and Kevin can sell cheese for human consumption.
Homemade in Marshall is one of the only small-scale, grass-based dairy farms offering raw milk for animal consumption at local farmer’s markets in Asheville. Kate sets up at West Asheville Tailgate Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, and Oakley Farmer’s Market.
Kate and Kevin have six Jersey dairy cows grazing on 25 acres. They have been farming full-time since 2009 after graduating from Warren Wilson College, where they met. They sell between 75 and 150 gallons of raw milk a week.