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Old 07-13-2010, 07:33 AM
Location: Long Neck,De
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Early every morning, your grandmother retrieved cool glass bottles from her front step, spooned a little cream into her coffee, then shook the milk and poured it out for her family’s breakfast. That cool, creamy, freshness seems lost to an earlier era, but on the Delmarva Peninsula, it’s making a comeback.
nice farms creamery »

Pour Nice Farms Creamery milk into a glass – little blobs of cream stick to the sides and a few rise to the top. With its yellow tinge, it’s just like what the milkman used to deliver.
The delivery system is a little different – the milk is for sale at farmers markets, and it’s in plastic jugs– but the taste and texture of this minimally processed milk is a dream come true for dairy aficionados and those who want to return to simpler foods.

It’s pasteurized at 2 degrees above the minimum temperature and not homogenized. Homogenization breaks up fat particles in milk so they remain suspended in a consistent mixture; homogenized milk doesn’t need to be shaken to keep the cream mixed in.

Robert and Carol Miller milk about 35 cows on their Federalsburg, Md. farm, where 75 cows of various ages graze on 188 acres of pasture. Their milk changes throughout the year, beginning with grassy, yellow milk in the spring. “Nothing natural should be the same all the time,” Miller said. The cows graze grass from March onward, as late as possible before they are fed hay. They get small amounts of grain, mostly snacks to occupy them while they are being milked. That’s nothing like conventional dairies, where cows stay inside all day and eat mostly manufactured feed.

Pasturing dairy cows is unusual in an age of intensive agriculture, but it’s nothing new to the Miller family, which moved from New Jersey to Maryland to acquire more pasture for their cows. Of his parents, Miller said, “They were doing pasture before it was cool.”

What’s different now is that the Millers bottle a portion of their farm’s milk to sell at farmers markets around the Delmarva Peninsula along with homemade yogurt. The rest is still sent to Land O’Lakes for sale.

During his last tour in Iraq in 2009, Miller, an Army captain, thought about stagnant milk prices and rising costs. Dairy farmers don’t get much money for their product, even if prices are going up at supermarkets. To survive as a small farmer, he knew he’d have to diversify or change tactics. Miller decided to marry a growing interest among consumers for less-processed foods with a need to change up the business. He came home and, with the help of his family, built a small creamery in 2009. “We did it all ourselves, between milkings,” he said.

This is the Millers’ first summer selling milk and yogurt at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market. The reception has been great, they say. “I’m so pleased it’s been so well received. It’s a testament to the quality of the milk,” said Miller. “I think people want a simpler product.”

A lot of time and work go into producing those simple products. Beyond daily milkings and animal care, the Millers have put a lot of strategy into their herd. They use varied breeds of cows – including Jerseys, Dutch Belted and milking shorthorns – in addition to a core of Holsteins. They are breeding into their herd types of cows that can handily produce milk while eating only grass and can tolerate Mid-Atlantic summers. Some kinds of dairy cows need to eat a diet heavy in grain to lactate and maintain a healthy body weight, said Miller.

Miller said the farm’s pastures are packed with a variety of grasses, to pack a nutritional punch and keep green grass available to the cows for as much of the year as possible. With the creamery mere feet away from where the cows are milked, he said Nice Farms products are as fresh as possible. The Millers sum up their mission on their website: “Here at Nice Farms Creamery, we firmly believe that the less our pasture-fed, all natural milk is tampered with, the better it is for you.”
Visit Nice Farms Creamery online at nicefarmscreamery.com
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Old 07-13-2010, 04:12 PM
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Anyone interested in getting a feel for the Lewes, DE area you might want to bookmark the on line edition of the capegazette.com. That is where you will find interesting articles such as the ones referenced by longnecker on what is happening in the Cape area.

One of the specific questions I asked when I visited in May was about volunteer opportunities for those who retire to DE. You don't have to be a 6th generation Delaware resident to get involved - Lewes welcomes and encourages everyone to get involved in volunteer work, be it counting horseshoe crabs, a dolphin count or helping out at Cape Henlopen State Park. You get that small community feeling where neighbors are always available to help neighbors - its shows when you read the cape gazette and about all the opportunities to get involved in the community.

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