Cricket Creek is a grass-based dairy farm managed by a small team of collaborators. The entire farm is comprised of about 500 acres, about 150 of which is hay fields, just over 100 is pasture, and the rest is wooded. We are one of the oldest dairy farms in the region, but infused with new life and energy. Our primary activity is raising dairy cows for their good milk. Our milking herd ranges between 25 and 30 lactating animals, depending on the time of year and the entire dairy herd is about 60 animals including the dry cows and young stock. We sell raw milk from our farm and the rest of our milk we make into artisanal cheese in our farmstead creamery; in 2012 we made about 25,000 lbs of cheese. We also have a bakery on site, which supplies fresh baked goods to our farm store. We raise grass-fed beef and whey-fed pork and have a small flock of laying hens. We sell our goods through our farm store, our diversified whole-farm year-round CSA, at local farmers markets, and through various regional cheese shops, food co-ops, restaurants, and other establishments. Our mission is to produce nourishing food that honors our animals, respects the land and feeds our community, and to exemplify a sustainable model for small-farm viability.
Our workshop will be an overview of running a small diversified dairy farm. We will discuss rotational grazing, dairy cow health issues, our nurse cow system, milking schedules, farmstead cheese production, raw milk and cheese marketing and sales including farmers markets, a diversified year-round CSA, and wholesale accounts. We will give a brief overview of how to get setup with a dairy operation, and what some of the basic regulations are surrounding dairy production and testing. We will talk about our systems for integrating other enterprises on the dairy farm. We will share the challenges and successes financially turning around an old dairy farm and what it means to run a sustainable dairy operation. Our current iteration of Cricket Creek is fairly new and we are relatively young farmers; we can give the perspective of a start-up business including the intricacies of getting well established and grounded with careful planning and record keeping.