Friday, July 16, 2010

American Summer Vacation Series 2010: An Organic Farm and Creamery

The Bitterroot Valley extends over 100 miles and has a population of around 36,000. Driving through the green rolling hills of the valley floor it becomes clear that there are more cows than there are people. This land is their land, along with the alpacas, sheep, horses, elk, moose, bison, etc. From what we learned in the earlier Montana post, animals are tasty and that, I am sure, is why they are allowed to share this great lawless plain.

Ranching and agriculture are two of the major industries in the Bitterroot Valley. This morning we visited the only organic farm and creamery in the valley, Lifeline Farm in Victor. We watched Jennifer, (she and her husband own the farm), milk the cows and feed the pigs. Basically, we trailed after Jennifer, trying not to trip on all of the chickens while she toiled away at backbreaking work. Any romantic notions I once had about being a farmer, having my own animals and making my own cheese for the masses were pretty much dashed as Jennifer very cheerfully recounted what sounded like an intensely laborious never-ending work day. She begins milking the hundred Brown Swiss cows at 4:30am and finishes around 10am. And that is just the first task of the day. She said she can't remember the last time she saw the sun rise or set- she works right through.

Following Jennifer around the farm made us hungry. We drove a few miles down the road to Lifeline Farm's Community Store where they sell all of the veggies and meats of their labor. Cuts of pig and cow, summer sausages, raw milk cheddar, mozzarella, cheese curds, butter, milk, and farm fresh eggs with shells of varying shades of tan blush and dusty powder blue are among the goodies you are rewarded with for stopping.

We came home and cooked breakfast for lunch- farm fresh eggs with aged cheddar scrambled in fresh butter, pork sausage and a salad of lettuce cut from my Dad's garden. A morning of hard work never tasted so good!

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