May 23rd, 2006
Name: Hendricks Farm
Owners: Trent and Rachel Hendricks
Location: Telford, Pennsylvania
Animals: 36 Ayreshires and 2 Jerseys, 100 Saanen and Alpine goats (not yet on their new farm), a few working Horses, at least 10 pigs, and a handful of chickens
Cheeses/Products: Cabriejo, Goadacious, Bluebells, Ticklemeblue, Bavarian Swiss, Gruyere, Telford Tomme, Telford Reserve, Aged Gouda, Parmesan, Cow Pies, Cheddar Blue, Pub Cheddar, BlueBeard, Franconia Jack, CaerPhilly, Asiagoat. Grass-fed beef, goat, lamb, whey-fed pork, eggs, raw cow and goat’s milk, cream, whey, buttermilk, yogurt, butter, cottage cheese, cheese curd.
More info: www.hendricksfarmsanddairy.com
Trent Hendricks is a first generation farmer in a family of real estate developers. He and his wife Rachel (and their four children) are creating something we should all be paying attention to in eastern Pennsylvania. Last November they relocated their farm to a spot about two miles down the road from the original operation.
The farm has grown out of the Hendricks’ interest in having food for their own family that is produced in a truly sustainable way, meaning ecologically and financially. Trent is committed to continually reducing their reliance on fossil fuels. When we arrived he was out by one fo the old farm structures with his daughter watching the pigs and checking on the young calves and newborn horse. It doesn’t sound so different from another farm until Trent explains that the horses are working horses and he shows us the new John Deere manure spreader he recently acquired. It is a horse-drawn model with steel tires- selected for its independance from petroleum products. He also confirms that the main reason he brought pigs onto the farm was to have an outlet for the whey from their cheesemaking. A local bakery has partnered with the farm by giving them their day old breads and scraps to feed to the pigs.
We walked the property with Trent for the next couple hours. The highlights as we saw them were:
- Heating for the parlor, cheesemaking facility, offices, farm store, etc. is produced by a digitally controlled wood burning furnace. The furnace heats water which then travels through pipes throughout the building and there are fans can be turne don in each room to blow air over the pipes to create warm air.
- They built a state-of-the-art pit-style milking parlor with two interesting features- both of them involve iodine. The high pressure hose that mixes water with iodine to spray down equipment in the parlor and the iodine mixed with air to make foam that is used to clean the teats.
- Their custom designed barn takes advantage of natural cross breezes to keep the area cool and comfortable for cows. Trent got the construction crew to use the paneling that was intended for the side to be used as a roof addition that creates a small sheltered area for storing and feeding hay.
- Trent is making all 17 of his cheeses in a 70 gallon vat and using an old fashioned press for his hard cheeses.
- There are plans for an on-site demo kitchen where there will be cooking courses that use foods from the farm.
At Hendricks they are milking 32 Ayreshires who are strictly grass fed. Trent has them on a rotational grazing program. After they finish grazing in a paddock, sheep go through and finish the grass- taking it lower (which improves the regrowth) and also helping to manage parasites. When different species go out on grass the parasite’s host cycle is broken.
As for the cheeses, Trent is producing an impressive range of styles of cheeses: pressed and soft-ripened and also some surface ripened blue cheeses. And to us, he is curious enough that he will continue to expand his line of cheeses. We finished up our tour with a big tasting of more than ten cheeses. The variety of textures make his offering a beautiful selection. The bad news about the cheeses (for those of us not so close to eastern PA) is that they are sold almost entirely on the farm. The good news about them is that when you do go to the farm you will be richly rewarded with promising cheeses and all of the other products available for sale: raw cow and goats milk, butter, cream, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, lamb, whey-fed pork, and goat. The bonus? These are all foods that you can feel good about purchasing- both because they are delicious and because your money will be supporting a farm that is taking the best of old practices into the new age of agriculture.