Last Saturday, Nick and I met Lauren (from Vegology) and Kyle at Homestead Creamery, our local dairy in Wirtz, Virginia.
It turned out to be a beautiful day and we had a fantastic time touring the creamery and seeing the farms that support it.
We met at 10 am on Saturday and looked around their store and scoop shop until Donnie, the Creamery’s Co-Owner met us for the tour.
I already want to go back so I can see the creamery in action – I seriously couldn’t believe that they don’t run the creamery on weekends after hearing how much they produce each week.
Although the creamery wasn’t humongous, it seemed so efficient.
They have one tank where the milk comes in, which then goes into the mixer (if they’re making one of their flavored milks) or into the homogenizer and then into the pasteurizer.
This machine (above) is their bottle washer from the 1960s.
Homestead Creamery bottles all their milk, cream, buttermilk, and half and half in glass bottles, which lets customers drop them off to be washed and reused. It saves an incredible amount of waste each year – plus, I love the look of the glass bottles.
I don’t remember all the details, but because of the way they pasteurize their milk, each type is much creamier and more flavorful than regular store bought milk. And we can vouch for that!
Nick and I buy their milk every week and I hope we always live in a place where we have it available because it is incredibly rich and creamy.
Their logo – The Way Milk Should Taste – is spot on.
This is why I wished everything was running! I want to go back and see the bottler in action, filling the bottles with milk, putting the lids on, and scanning on the dates.
And this little machine (above) is where all of their butter is made.
For as much product as they make each year, there is only one person that makes all of their butter and only one person that makes all of their ice cream. Incredible, right? And all of their butter is hand-shaped and hand-wrapped – not automated at all.
Side note: Have you ever seen the I Love Lucy episode where she gets stuck in the deep freezer in the basement? That freezer made me think of that – and made me want to dive in there with a spoon and try all of that ice cream.
After we toured the creamery itself, Donnie took us over to his house and farm, where he has 100 cows. There’s one other co-owner of the creamery a few miles away that also has 100 cows, which makes up the entire dairy.
I think the neatest thing I learned that day was that they grow almost all of the food for the cows right on their farms. The cows mostly eat grain and corn, which is grown on the acres that Donnie owns. They also graze in other areas of the land on grass during the warmer months.
These cows were happy cows – hanging out in the shade of the afternoon, grazing outside in the fields.
The milking is done 8 cows at a time at Donnie’s farm at 4:30 every morning (by Donnie himself) and then later in the afternoon by his son or nephews who help out at the farm.
Donnie was the perfect host for the tour and you could really sense his passion for his farm, the creamery, and everything he does every day. After we exhausted him with questions, we headed back to the creamery to have some sandwiches and finally get some ice cream.
We regularly buy their ice cream at our local Kroger, but they also had flavors in the scoop shop that they only make for the creamery. I had no choice but to try some of those!
I had a scoop of strawberry cheesecake on the bottom and coconut chocolate chip on the top. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sending a letter soon to request the coconut one at the grocery store.
If I wasn’t already a customer, I can definitely say that I would be after touring the creamery and dairy. Seeing the love and hard work that this business is based on simply reinforced my commitment to buy not only from this dairy but to buy local as much as possible.
Do you have a local dairy or other local places that you love?