We’re having a Cow! It’s Calving Season at Red Gate Farm…
Spring is a sacred season on any farm. Produce farms can finally put their seeds in the warm ground, chicks are hatching from eggs, and livestock graze on lush spring pastures. At Red Gate Farm, spring arrives with a hundreds of babies mooing.
Located down the road from Kriemhild Dairy in Hamilton, NY, Red Gate Farm is our sole milk supplier for our seasonal Meadow Butter. It is the second-largest grazing dairy in New York State and is owned and run by the Rivington family who practice holistic grazing management for over more than 1,500 acres of land.
The typical dairy farm produces milk year-round, meaning that calves are born throughout the year on a staggered schedule. Being a seasonal dairy, Red Gate Farm goes about breeding and parturition differently. All the cows at Red Gate are bred in the same span of time and therefore give birth in one short period at the beginning of spring. As you can imagine, it is the busiest time of the year on the farm.
The dairy farm lingo for a cow that has given birth is “fresh”. At Red Gate Farm over 350 cows freshen over a two month period. At this time, the farm transitions to a maternity ward. It is the birth of the calves that begins the cows’ natural lactation which will peak through the bountiful grazing season and continue until December.
On Saturday, April 28th, Red Gate Farm is hosting Calving Day.
Calving Day will run from 11am-3pm at Red Gate Farm, 730 state route 12B, Hamilton, NY. This is a free, family friendly event sure to entertain and educate visitors of all ages. Calving Day will be filled with farm tours, up-close calf interactions, door prizes, and kid's activities. The Bueno Tacos Truck and other brunch fare will be available for purchase. At 3pm, visitors can watch the daily milking of the herd in Red Gate Farm's unique open air milking parlor.
Whether or not you have visited the farm before, Calving Day will be a great time to make a trip. It will be a special event highlighting the natural cycle and processes that surround seasonal grass-fed dairy farming. We encourage anyone who wants to know more about where their food comes from to join us at the farm to celebrate the start of the season.
With your purchase of one of our new T-shirts, you can enter to win a two-night stay at Red Gate Farm's off-grid cabin during the weekend of Calving Day (Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th).
The Red Gate Cabin juxtaposes Red Gate Farm's expansive pastures in a wooden grove surrounded by peaceful wetland. The cabin is equipped with propane heat, functional kitchen, and outdoor stone fire pit. An outhouse serves as a bathroom. There are no indoor bathroom facilities, but the kitchen does have running water. The cabin has 4 rooms: a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. The winner would be welcome to bring up to 6 guests and will also receive a private farm tour.
How to Enter:
Purchase your favorite Kriemhild T-shirt online, or at the Kriemhild Kupboard. Then send us a message, either through e-mail, facebook, or instagram with a picture of you wearing your new schwag and we will confirm your entry! The winner will be announced April 14th. Must be 18 years old to enter.
At last, Kriemhild has dived into the classy world of Organic Cultured Butter...
What makes butter cultured? Traditionally, before the industrialization of the dairy industry that made pasteurization a routine part of our gastronomical canon, most butter in the United States was made from cultured cream. The cream was allowed to sit for hours, often overnight, so that the naturally occurring micro-bacteria could slightly sour the cream before it was churned into butter.
Culturing cream before churning it into butter enhances the natural sweetness of the cream while also bringing out a subtle, nutty, tang. Like yogurt and Crème Fraîche, the probiotics in Cultured Butter aid in digestion. Culturing also increases the acidity of the butter, which helps to tenderize dough, resulting in tender crumbs and crusts.
Just as we were adding the word distribution to our vocabulary in 2011, the ownership at Regional Access was being passed along to the next generation and a couple of long time, dedicated individuals. Like any small business, we see the owners often in our business to business interactions. It’s not unusual to see Dana Stafford, President and GM, behind the wheel of their neatly painted Regional Access tractor trailer picking up those pallets we mentioned before.
If you’re buying our butter at Union Market, your local health food store or co-op, there’s a good chance that that package was delivered by Regional Access. They distribute to stores and restaurants all over New York State and New Jersey. They go above and beyond for their customers, truly. I’ve seen multiple videos of their drivers braving stormy weather in the steep hills of Ithaca.
In addition to Regional Access and Dairy Wagon, we work with several other distributors that deliver our Meadow Butter to stores, restaurants and bakeries to the Metro New York region and a bit into Boston. Each covers a particular or type of customer, like Whole Foods, food-service-only accounts, or even direct home delivery. These distributors are small businesses like ours, playing an incredibly vital role in building a human and community based, quality food system.
In preparation, we drive our leased truck (thank you, DeCarolis) from Hamilton to Food Features in Syracuse, just off the Thruway and pick up a pallet or two of stored product. We head back to homebase and finish loading the truck by hand as loading docks and electric pallet jacks are luxury items out of our reach. Honestly, we’re happy when the walk in freezer isn't blowing snow inside. We also write all of our orders by hand on good old fashioned carbon copy paper so we can track where our cases of Meadow Butter are going.
Every day we’re considering how best to get our product to those who want it. A significant amount of time and thought go into organizing our distribution. With that said, we deliver to only a handful of distributors. Those folks, however, are delivering to hundreds of customers on a weekly basis. Our distributors are good at what they do. They’ve invested in delivery system software that not only incorporate routes designed for trucks of a specific weight and height, but also incorporate back-hauling, cross docking and freighting for other distributors and large accounts. They’re doing their best to maximize their haul and starting their trucks at 2 and 4am when the roads are clear so there’s less traffic that cause their trucks to idle.
Not only do distributors play a vital role in our business getting product from A to the rest of the alphabet, but they also are often the face of our company. The first impression customers have of our glorious butter and crème fraîche is served by their sales teams. They provide a bridge of communication between us and our customer.
In fact, that 1lb roll you love so much can be attributed to our distributor, Solex Fine Foods. After receiving feedback from their customer restaurant, Daniel, we started working on producing rolled butter. The chefs were looking for a specific diameter roll to cut into medallions. One happy accident later, we made 2,000 lbs of rolled butter in the wrong diameter. Turns out, the chefs weren’t the only ones who preferred rolled butter wrapped in white paper.
At a casual event just last week, I saw the owner of Solex, Markus Draxler sampling products, just as I was. Here we both were, on a Wednesday evening after already putting in a full days work, engaging our customers and showing appreciation for their patronage. A few months ago, while I didn’t know it at the time, I watched the former owner of Solex and still a good friend of Markus’ unload a pallet from our truck. I learned later that he started the business by selling langoustines from his homeland in Scotland to high end restaurants in Manhattan.
“It’s not personal, it’s just business” is not a phrase that resonates with us here at Kriemhild. We believe all relationships are personal, including business relationships. We work with the same distributors that we started with in 2012 and 2013. We value their work and respect them as individuals. We’ve gotten to know them, and grow with them and ultimately, like you, they help us do a better job.
Hugs and Butter,
Lindsey, Kriemhild Co-Owner
P.S. Stay tuned for next week’s short reel silent film--it’s a tribute to our main mode of distribution before we started leasing a truck...
Pre-heat oven to 360 degrees F. Mix milk and pumpkin flesh to make puree. Prepare dough by beating the soft butter together with the cane sugar, vanilla and salt for 5 minutes, then beat in the eggs one by one – each for 20-30 seconds. Beat in the pumpkin puree. Blend the rice flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and stir into the batter by hand using a whisk or the dough hook of your hand mixer. Fill the batter into the springform pan, place the pears (wash and pat dry them before) into the batter and bake for 60-65 minutes (cover the cake for the last 20 minutes with foil – and make the toothpick test in the end to check, if the cake is done). Let the cake cool down on a cooling rack for 1 hour before serving. Dust with powdered sugar.
adapted from ourfoodstories.com
For the FALAFEL:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease two mini-muffin trays. Mix all ingredients except the flour, and either blitz in a food processor or mash by hand.Mix in the flour, adding extra if it’s too sticky. Roll the mixture into ping pong sized balls between your palms. There’s definitely a knack to this, so don’t worry if you start with a few weirdly-shaped ones. Put them into your muffin tins: if you have too many leftover, it’s fine to cook some on a baking tray Bake for about 40 mins, turning half-way through.
For the TZATZIKI:
Finely chop the cucumber: if you have time, it’s best to gather it in a clean tea-towel and squeeze out some liquid for a few minutes. Mix all the ingredients and keep it cool.
For the Crust:
Stir together the crust ingredients in a bowl until completely combined. Press firmly into the bottom of an 8x8 square baking dish or a pie plate. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. To make the filling, place the room temperature cream cheese in a food processor along with the lemon juice, vanilla, honey and Greek yogurt. Process until completely combined and smooth. You can also use a hand or stand mixer. If you do beat the cream cheese first before adding all the other ingredients to avoid lumps. Pour the filling mix into the prepared crust, smooth out, cover and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Once the cheesecake has set slice, top as desired and serve immediately. Top with fresh berries or a fruit compote.
Adapted from fooddoodles.com
We want to thank all of you who came by for this year's Open Farm Day in Madison County. We had a great time sharing what we do with all of you, whether we're on the farming side of things, the creamery side, or both. We also want to thank Madison County Cornell Cooperative Extension for their continual efforts to help Madison County's agricultural businesses thrive. Events like this close the needless gap between our farms and our food, exhibit appreciation and support for our farmers, and strengthen our communities. Your participation is a step towards a better food system, and we're grateful for every step you take with us.
From all of us at Kriemhild and Red Gate Farm: Thank You!
This year, it seems to be that “April Showers” turned into May showers. And then June Showers. Now its July and the northeast still seems to be getting drenched at least twice a week. The constant thunderstorms and heavy rainfall is not just an inconvenience, but a danger as flash floods have become an occurrence around New York State. Even after the rainfall, the resulting influx of water is washing over roads, causing power outages, and even damaging homes.
Farms struggle with heavy rainfall and flooding as well. Wet conditions force farmers to keep their heavy tractors out of the field to avoid getting stuck. Standing water from saturated soils or flooding can drown crops and pasture plants, both posing significant losses.
Bruce and Nancy Rivington, Kriemhild co-owners and farmers of Red Gate Farm, own about 700 acres of contiguous land. Despite the inundation of precipitation since spring, none of their pastures had flooded this year. Now, this may be due to luck, but it is likely due to the impact grazing has on their soils.
Climate Change is Here
We’ve discussed how the practice of grazing encourages carbon sequestration, but this is not the only way that grazing combats climate change. The Northeast United States has had a 70% increase in the amount of heavy precipitation events between the late 1950s and 2010, and winter and spring precipitation is predicted to only increase (1) . On the other side, as temperatures in the summer and fall increase, seasonal drought is projected to become more frequent (2). With these climate predictions, a farmer’s best choice is to cultivate a resilient soil that can handle both drought as well as heavy precipitation.
The best way to insulate soils from the impacts of extreme wet or dry conditions is to develop a strong soil structure. Most are familiar with the importance of nutrients and minerals in soil, but without a structure in which water and air can move, plants have difficulty pushing their roots through the soil and accessing those nutrients. The structure of the soil is how the particles are held together, or aggregated. Grass naturally does a nice job of holding soils together with its fine root system and, if managed correctly, it also covers the soil and protects it from erosion.
The Tiniest Livestock
As pasture plants photosynthesize, they create nutrients of their own that they excrete into the soil as exudate. Millions of microorganisms and mycorrhizal fungi, feed upon this exudate, a symbiotic relationship, and in turn bring nutrients to the plant. While this abundance of micro-life feeds on their exudate buffet, excrete waste, and eventually die, they create organic matter and other glue-like protein substances that hold soil particles together. This structure building allows micro and macro pores to manifest in the soil, making highways for air and water to travel to plants roots, micro critters and slightly larger soil inhabitants, such as worms, dung beetles, grubs and moles. A well-aggregated soil is made up of half pore spaces and half solid particles.
Bruce and Nancy’s grazing management is centered on soil health. Red Gate Farm’s perennial pastures’ roots run deep. The cows are allowed to graze each paddock down to a certain height, but then are rotated to a new field to give the grazed pasture plants time to rebound. When plants are grazed, they slough off a portion of their roots. These roots decompose and add to the soils organic matter. While the pasture rests, the plants regrow and their roots penetrate deeper into the soil, making passageways for air and water to reach to lower soil layers and while accessing nutrients stored in the depths. All along the way, microorganisms interact with the expanding root systems, creating more organic matter and “soil glue”, building a resilient soil structure that acts like a sponge. This system keeps Red Gate Farm dry when it rains, and green when it’s dry.
It’s easy to get caught up in the individual health benefits of grass-fed and grass-grazed products and overlook the overarching natural cycles that responsible grass-based production perpetuates. It’s important to us to remember that our Meadow Butter is the result of a complex, thriving ecosystem - and we plan to keep it that way. So, join us at the Red Gate Farm on Open Farm Day as we dig deeper into how the Rivingtons’ cows turn pasture into your favorite Meadow Butter on July 29th.
1. Groisman, P. Y., R. W. Knight, and O. G.
Zolina, (2013) “Recent trends in regional and
global intense precipitation patterns.” Climate
Vulnerability, R.A. Pielke, Sr., Ed., Academic
2. NPCC, (2010) “Climate Change Adaptation
in New York City: Building a Risk Management
Response” New York City Panel on Climate
Change 2009 Report. Vol. 1196C. Rosenzweig
and W. Solecki, Eds. Wiley-Blackwell, 328 pp.
It Took Some Convincing...
Bruce and Nancy Rivington moved their entire farm and family of six from Ontario, Canada to Hamilton, NY in order to give their cows more chances to graze. But, just as Red Gate Farm wasn’t always a grazing farm , Bruce and Nancy were not always graziers.
“I kind of made fun of it, [grazing]” Bruce explains, “It seemed stupid, why’d you want to do that when you could just… get more milk production by bringing the feed to the cows?”
In Canada, the Rivingtons were content with growing, cultivating, and harvesting crops for the purpose of feeding to their herd. They had a plenty high milk production per cow. Why would they want to give up something they were good at?
It wasn’t until they attended a talk by Sonny Golden, a grazing and nutrition specialist from Springfield, PA, that the Rivingtons began to examine their management choices. “He says, ‘You plant corn. What grows? Grass. You plant soybeans. What grows? Grass. You plant barley. What grows? Grass! Why aren’t you growing grass?!’ Which made a lot of sense.” Bruce reminisced.
Bruce and Nancy realized they were producing a large quantity of milk, but the costs of such high production were taking their toll. As Bruce remembers, “We were hauling all the feed to the cows, but we were wearing out ourselves, our cows, the machinery, the barn.” Therefore, the Rivingtons decided to try to work within the naturalized system of pasture and ruminant animals, instead of against it, and began practicing grazing in 1994.
Grazing has more than just financial benefits. It improves the quality of life for the cows. In addition to the health benefits of eating fresh grass, they get to engage with their herd mates and the environment naturally as they enjoy the outdoors. When carefully managed, grazing can improve or maintain environmental health as well, through increasing soil health, biodiversity, and even carbon sequestration.
Most pasture plants have evolved to be grazed, and there are dozens of species of grass, fescue and legumes that a cow can choose from. Grazing actually stimulates these plants' growth. Yet, if grazed too short, pasture plants struggle to capture energy from the sun and must move their stored resources in their roots to grow new leaves. Being grazed too short, or too often, time after time will deplete the plant’s energy reserves, leaving an unproductive pasture, and even plant death.
However, depending on the season, weather, and the type of plant, grass will grow at variable speeds. In order to maintain the health of the pasture, so that it remains productive in future seasons, the Rivingtons must pay attention to these changes and adjust their grazing plan accordingly. They may give a section of field a longer time to recover based on how quickly it is regrowing, or put the cows in a larger section so the pressure of grazing is spread thinner over the field.
The Positive Feedback
By keeping up this management, the Rivington family and their farm team maintain a positive feedback loop that builds soil and grows nutrient dense grass for their cows. The Rivingtons also enjoy the benefits of not having to purchase and handle certain petroleum based inputs, such as pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer. Practicing grazing means much more time spent in the fields, retrieving cows for milking, moving fencing, or just watching the grass grow - all of which is pretty good exercise (If you don’t believe us, just try racing Bruce up his favorite pasture hill).
It is true - their cows don’t make as milk as they used to on grain, but the Rivingtons have found a system that is attuned with their values and gives them a lifestyle that suits their family, their farm team, their pastures, their cows, and you, our customers. Don’t just take our word for it, visit the farm on Madison County’s Open Farm Day to experience the joy of a grazing dairy yourself. We’ll have tours, activities, and, of course, plenty of Meadow Butter.
As the Butter Churns
Author: Ellen Fagan
Farm and Outreach Coordinator