Meadow Creek Dairy

June 4th, 2006

Helen & Rick with SashaName: Meadow Creek Dairy
Owners: Helen & Rick Feete
Location: Galax, Virginia
Animals: Over 100 Jersey with some crosses mixed in
Cheeses/Products: Grayson, Mountaineer, Appalachian
More info: www.meadowcreekdairy.com

In the 80’s Helen and Rick Feete went into dairying because as they saw it the profession was stable and they would get to spend more time with each other and with their children than if they worked other kinds of jobs. Both of them worked at conventional confinement dairies. In 1988, when they decided to get cows and started their own dairy, they reacted against conventional dairy farming. This was primarily because of the cost of running a confinement dairy; they did not have the capital to invest in the equipment or the ongoing purchase of corn silage to feed the animals. Around this time they saw an article in Farm Magazine about methods used in New Zealand dairies- grass-fed, rotational grazing- and also a book by Bill Murphy, Greener Pasture is on Your Side of the Fence, came out and they could see a style of dairy that they could afford. As a result, Meadow Creek Dairy- along with a handful of other New Zealand style rotational grazing setups in North America- stood out like a sore thumb in the world of cows milk dairies. The cows are outside on grass 365 days of the year and there are few structures and not so much heavy equipment around to support the dairy.

Six years into their own dairy business, without any non-family employees and not a single milking off, they began to wear out. So they considered their options and decided to try changing over to being a seasonal operation meaning they would breed their herd within one window. Any cows that do not get pregnant within that window must be cut from the herd. Not an easy decision to stick with, not to mention arranging your finances to get you prepared for the dry season- no milk production means no cash flow. Although this was a difficult decision to carry out, it also breathed new life into the farm…and we should all be thankful for this change as it gave the Feetes a chance to build a small cheese plant so that Helen could begin to take some of the grass-fed, raw Jersey milk from a few cows and turn it into cheese.

When we pulled into Meadow Creek Dairy Rick was just finishing up milking with Judith, one of their milk hands. Helen, Michael and I trailed behind one of the last groups of cows milked out to the paddock they would graze that evening. The farm is beautiful with hills that may qualify as slightly more intense than rolling, a creek, a couple ponds and copious amounts of luscious green grass. We wandered out amidst the milkers (approximately 89 of them at the moment) who are almost all mostly Jersey with a few carefully selected breeds crossed into the herd. As with all other factors that impact the farm, Helen and Rick are constantly tweaking their breeding to improve the overall genetics of the herd. They are definitely doing something right as this past season they had 89 successful births (no dead calves or cows).

Hello There

On our first night, Helen treated us to one of the chickens raised on their farm, and spring lettuces from her garden. We got up in the morning and wandered up the path to the cheese plant where Helen had been busy for some time setting up the room for making Grayson, their raw milk Taleggio style cheese. The make works best with four people and Helen had set up the crew to come in special on Saturday so that we could see them do it. Dixie was the first to show up (with homemade cinnamon rolls and butter and strawberry ice cream made from Meadow Creek cream), he has worked there for about 8 years. Then Helen and Rick’s daughter Kate arrived with her fiance Dan, they both work for Meadow Creek. We stepped in to watch Helen cut the curd and then cleared the room for a few minutes to allow them to set up all of the forms. Once they were ready to hoop the cheese we were directed to two spots where we could stand without being in their way. Kate stirred the curd gently and constantly to prevent it from adhering to itself, Dan scooped curd into buckets, Helen and Dixie ferried the buckets from the vat to the molds around the room. At a certain point, Helen stopped pouring curd and began flipping the cheeses that were hooped first. As luck would have it, we got to see the biggest Grayson make they have ever done- it was awesome to see a cheese make that involved so many people moving a lot of curd and having such a good time together.

Grayson Make

Those cheeses were flipped at various intervals that day and eventually we helped Helen move them into the cellar. Helen is patiently waiting while the finishing touches are being done on a new cheesemaking room and in-ground cellar- an excellent excuse for us to go visit them again later this year.

The following morning they took us on a walk around their property. One could easily wander around on their farm and overlook one of the most important features- what is growing on the land. While we walked, Rick explained how one cares for a pasture when they are focused on long-term sustainability (environmental, economic, and social). When you kneel down and look at the variety of grasses available to the cows it is intense to think about the amount of work required to create this landscape (without the use of chemicals). He also talked to us about something other farmers have mentioned, the concept of a nutrient loop on a piece of land- I will do my best to give an explanation although it will be oversimplified. The cows go out and eat the grass which has grown from nutrients in the soil, they metabolize that grass and put it back onto the land via manure. One of the wonderful thing about grass based dairying is that you are closer to closing the loop because you are not taking hay from someone else’s land and moving those nutrients onto your own land… over time this depletes the hay farmer’s land.

Listening to Helen and Rick talk about their path through the dairying industry it is apparent that they are steady visionaries with the patience required to do something the right way. They are humble about what they have accomplished and yet they would never undersell the complexity of what they do- which is exactly as it should be.

Curious Ladies

Entry Filed under: Travel, Photos, Meadow Creek Dairy

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. barbara  |  June 6th, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    Hi! Just checked in on your progress and absolutely LOVE the cow photos. They are such beautiful creatures! They look like natural cheesemakers, for sure (pun intended of course. :)

    Thanks for sharing…

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Calendar

August 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Most Recent Posts


  • difference between and
  • abuse weight loss
  • mesren v
  • free sample 24hr
  • memory issues
  • ibs dose
  • oftalmik damla
  • children dosage
  • tablets rxlist
  • when will be available over the counter
  • product monograph canada
  • chibro libido
  • during breastfeeding
  • can treat boils
  • causing itching
  • xr side effects
  • hydrocodone
  • para que se usa el medicamento
  • cause irritability
  • can you take sudafed and d
  • during 1st trimester
  • recall 2009
  • stomach acid
  • is a beta lactam
  • para que sirve la yahoo respuestas
  • can you just stop taking
  • cardioselective
  • antidepressant discontinuation syndrome
  • aurochem
  • d'8
  • pseudomonas sensitive
  • tmj pain
  • sr skutki uboczne
  • can you take together
  • and interaction
  • anxiety elderly
  • wart medication
  • do lower blood pressure
  • e minoxidil
  • efectos secundarios 75 mg
  • na alergie
  • border hours
  • lawsuits florida
  • a kwas foliowy
  • side effects in men
  • muscle aches withdrawal
  • otc drug
  • quick does work
  • buy generic online
  • e gestaAžA?o
  • rate credit on bge bill
  • can you take benadryl
  • lek
  • rite aid pharmacy
  • withdrawal symptoms insomnia
  • kidney pain
  • para que es el
  • spotting
  • poco sangrado despues de
  • sirop posologie
  • panadol
  • buy in us
  • can take tylenol pm
  • dean k
  • has my stopped working
  • and leg pain
  • can i take when i am pregnant
  • oral uses
  • food allergy
  • e mestruazioni
  • time to start working
  • oily discharge
  • buy online
  • liquid dosage
  • time to take effect
  • maximum dosage of daily
  • trop de
  • otc safe long term use
  • cream overdose
  • dosage instructions
  • causing depression
  • starting after a miscarriage
  • vs
  • injection
  • benadryl interactions
  • antabus interactions
  • odpowiedniki
  • renal failure
  • taking
  • happens if stop taking my
  • pregnancy side effects
  • is used to treat acne
  • kart
  • can i take while pregnant
  • 500 mg 50 tb
  • s\/a corretora de cA?mbio
  • rezeptfrei in deutschland
  • zoloft switch
  • can cause loss of appetite
  • lc service &
  • chest pain side effects
  • 800 mg
  • applying cream
  • can take while nursing
  • fever
  • safe for infants
  • 5395975069
  • does make yeast infection worse
  • can i take cold medicine while on
  • eating disorder
  • jak brac po mecie
  • high blood pressure side effects
  • vs
  • therapeutic action
  • need help paying
  • how long after taking are you contagious
  • antidepressant side effects
  • can my child take and together
  • dianabol
  • losing potency
  • ndc
  • novartis patient assistance program
  • will test positive for methamphetamine
  • sirve para bajar de peso
  • can you stop
  • 40 mg
  • preAžo do remedio 5mg
  • dosage chemotherapy
  • interaction
  • can take kidney infection
  • and liver enzymes
  • treat staph
  • provigil wellbutrin
  • side effects skin
  • should you take with food
  • chart
  • interaction between
  • compare tinactin
  • feet swelling
  • cures candida
  • in the news
  • treatment pid
  • and
  • missed dose
  • other uses
  • normal dosage uti
  • is safe for pregnancy
  • mg dosage
  • que es el
  • voucher
  • blood monitoring
  • hct recall
  • before urine test
  • using acne
  • eljo
  • mast
  • free trial
  • blood thinner
  • buy d uk
  • reactions
  • safe dose range
  • muscle pain
  • what does it look like
  • effects kidney function
  • 30 mg dosage
  • or
  • side effects nightmares
  • milligrams does come
  • used eating disorders
  • can you take together
  • do you need prescription uk
  • when was relief launched
  • 80 mg
  • iv compatibility
  • taper off
  • can mixed solution
  • 150 mg side effects
  • 5 mg lilly fta 28 st
  • what are the side effects of going off
  • annual sales
  • prescription only
  • average dose
  • type b flu
  • can kids take and together
  • why give at bedtime
  • 20 mg used for
  • cream recall
  • kadA▒nlar kulA?bA?
  • mega red krill oil
  • can u take advil
  • is gluten free
  • gastrin
  • healthy baby
  • vs
  • crema v para sirve
  • sepeda motor
  • late ovulation on bfp
  • can you crush cr
  • enablex
  • best skin care while on
  • follicles on day 12
  • yeast infection
  • expired pregnancy
  • ointment
  • if stops working
  • usage
  • 8 mg kaufen
  • hct missed dose
  • online
  • ingredients
  • edad se tomar
  • 8267343161
  • can you take with hct
  • can take advil together
  • guaifenesin d
  • allergy medication
  • pharmacological classification
  • for restless leg syndrome side effects
  • y maca
  • a spA?A?niony okres
  • alternatives
  • as a mood stabilizer
  • how long does it take for to work
  • tabletten wirkung
  • erectile dysfunction
  • used for anxiety
  • taking empty stomach
  • amazon
  • para verme
  • low progesterone while taking
  • reviews
  • for for cold sores
  • special offers
  • usage
  • 2224291683
  • xanax interactions
  • medication discounts
  • interactions drugs
  • 7323917684
  • i took 20mg of
  • side effects joints
  • 1 g iv
  • do you need prescription for in australia
  • 956230504
  • buy cheap uk
  • effects liver
  • pseudomonas resistance
  • unterschied
  • migraine treatment
  • generico farmacia italia
  • cost target
  • for men
  • age limit
  • invega conversion
  • eczema
  • cream while breastfeeding
  • e dimagrimento
  • is safe while breastfeeding
  • musicians
  • auckland
  • children's cvs
  • time to take effect
  • description
  • for a 12 year old
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome-treatment with
  • cheapest canada
  • class action lawsuit
  • 4 gel
  • oral contraceptives
  • c'est quoi le
  • 300 generic
  • low sperm count
  • and success stories
  • on drug testing
  • safer
  • for back pain
  • for osteopenia
  • safe during pregnancy
  • low dose weight loss
  • type drug
  • cr itching
  • user guide
  • for 2 yr old
  • does make you bigger than normal
  • and ritalin
  • l lysine
  • l-tryptophan und
  • flexeril vs
  • l effet secondaire
  • prostate drug
  • do you have to take daily
  • cream pregnancy
  • will reduce my milk supply
  • related sulfa drugs
  • valium
  • biglietti per italia a parma
  • sr bula
  • beaumont football club
  • side effects heart palpitations
  • natural supplement works like
  • can you take on an empty stomach
  • will help premature ejaculation
  • gynecomastia
  • drug class
  • with
  • alternative cvs
  • and peeling rash
  • banda
  • agitation anxiety
  • ambien drug interactions
  • y engordar
  • important safety information
  • can i get over the counter
  • high
  • coupon
  • zomig
  • a bangkok
  • sintomas despues aborto provocado
  • pictures of all pills
  • serotonin antagonist
  • same
  • get period after
  • prescription drug
  • a wymioty
  • n aerozol wziewny
  • vitamin d
  • health canada
  • cr 37.5mg
  • dresden il
  • r capsulas 300 mg
  • upper abdominal pain
  • can you take and benadryl together
  • used treat
  • anxiety
  • breastfeeding no period
  • xarope posologia
  • difference between levo sodium
  • tablets how to use
  • will interfere birth control
  • side effects blogs
  • price canada
  • famine maleate 50 mg
  • suspension
  • 24 hour
  • toxicity in children
  • que es la pastilla
  • for dilated cardiomyopathy
  • use
  • et cancer
  • ampolla embarazo
  • septic aerator
  • abuse potential
  • can a toddler take and tylenol together
  • indications
  • and together
  • hand tremors
  • 20 mg bula
  • can cause miscarriage
  • single dose gonorrhea
  • cheap 100mg
  • how much to cure chlamydia
  • purpose
  • y pastillas anticonceptivas
  • still available usa
  • xarope infarmed
  • taking and together
  • vs diamicron
  • i dojenje
  • dosage
  • can take z pack together
  • turisti x caso
  • is zoloft better than for anxiety
  • hallucinations
  • gives me gas
  • yeast infection one dose
  • canine colitis
  • or
  • for premature ejaculation
  • side effects hallucinations
  • free samples
  • acne
  • jarabe infantil
  • same time
  • allergic reaction side effects
  • used for depression
  • when will i ovulate taking days 5-9
  • plant locations
  • para que sirve
  • is out of date safe
  • does it get worse before it gets better
  • otc
  • will make you sleepy
  • pizzarium roma
  • 30 ct
  • dependent factors
  • what does it look like
  • is 150mg of a high dose
  • 2 stA?ck
  • buy overnight delivery
  • lose weight after