Breeding Our Cows for A2 Milk!

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We have begun the process of breeding our cows to produce A2 milk! Many people find A2 milk to be more easily digested than traditional milk. At Four E Dairy, we want to provide milk with the most health benefits possible!

What Is A2 Milk and Why Is It Special?

Cow milk is made up of water, fat, sugar (lactose), protein, and minerals. There are many different proteins in cow milk, A1 beta-casein and A2 beta-casein are two of these.  Humans, goats, and sheep only produce milk containing A2 proteins. Cows also produced only A2 milk, until thousand of years ago a genetic mutation occurred which caused cows to also produce milk with A1 proteins. The milk found in grocery stores today contains mostly A1 proteins.

If you experience digestive issues after drinking milk, it may not be the lactose causing issues, it could be the A1 protein! Many people who self-diagnose as milk intolerant have reported that they do not have the same symptoms with A2 milk.  Without being too technical, the way that A1 protein is digested and broken down, releases a protein fragment, or peptide, that causes discomfort for some. The A2 protein does not release this peptide during the digestive process.

What Are We Doing on the Farm?

We’ve introduced A2/A2 bulls to our herd to begin the slow process of breeding cows that produce only A2 milk. Each cow has two copies of the gene that determines which protein will be present in it’s milk. Since a cow receives one copy of this gene from its sire (father) and one from its dam (mother), the cow can either be A1/A1, A1/A2, or A2/A2. The A2/A2 bull ensures that our baby calves will be receiving at least one A2 gene. Jersey cows typically have about a 50% rate of containing the A2 gene naturally, so as we grow our herd, more cows will produce only A2 milk.

We’ve tested a small sample of our animals to see how the process is coming along and we are pleased with the results. Out of 50 cows that were tested, only 5 were A1/A1. This means we are well on our way of providing A2 milk to our customers. We will continue to test more cows and plan to create a separate herd containing only A2 cows. We will continue to update the blog with our progress, so please check back!

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We Are Proud Dairy Farmers

Elyse came across an article in the magazine, Hoard’s Dairyman,that perfectly captures our life, love, and family tradition of dairy farming. It captures our blood, sweat, and tears. It captures our hopes and our dreams, and we want to share it with you. WE ARE PROUD DAIRY FARMERS!!

“I am proud dairy farmer”
by Joseph Giemza

I am a dairy farmer. That’s all I’ve ever been. There once were a lot of folks who could say that. As of March, there are 9,600 of us in Wisconsin. Wow! In March 1999, the numbers indicated there were 22,000.

You’d think someone would build a fence around us and charge admission to view us in our natural habitat or Congress would put an endangered species protection act on us.

Yes, I am a dairy farmer. It’s my job, my life, my career, my religion, my passion, my home – all rolled into one. Most people are too busy to get to the basics of life, too busy trying to get rich quick. I get to deal with the basics of life every single day: birth, death, soil, sun, growth, mud, storms, calm, parched, wet, and above all, stress.

I am proud to be a dairy farmer. My contribution to society is very simple, yet it’s as grand as that of anyone who graduated from an elite liberal arts college.

I tend a heard of dairy cows that produce what evolution has chosen as the most naturally nutritious food for the most developed animals in the food chain – people. Evolution took thousands of years of trial and error, millions of genetic events to decide that milk is it. Its nutritional value puts milk above coffee, energy drinks, beer, or soda. Milk is it!

Milk doesn’t cause fatal car crashes or domestic violence. You don’t need an identification card to purchase it any time of the day or night. It won’t stain your clothes if spilled. Consider all the great products that are made from milk, whether they are hot, cold, cultured, or frozen.

Today, the American farmer feeds 144 people every day. Fifty years ago, each farmer fed 22 people. We’ve come a long way. The American farmer is expected to feed, fuel, and clothe the world, take all the risk with no guarantee of receiving fair compensation for their hard work.

One hundred percent of the people on this planet eat food. Where do they think this food comes from?

Not from a store, it’s from a farm. Yet, the farmer is the least appreciated person on earth. Not many people become famous for milking cows, but a lot of famous people couldn’t do what we farmers do. Professional athletes make tens of millions of dollars per year and contribute little to society.

Dairy farmers work extremely hard just to survive. What industry works for less than minimum wage, puts in hours well beyond the traditional eight-hour work day, seven days a week, with no overtime pay, no benefits of any kind, and no retirement fund?

Farmers have no control on the price we receive for our products; we have to take what the processor gives us. Is that fair?

We do it because we have passion for the land and what we do.

Published in Vol. 161,No.14 Hoard’s Dairyman

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Lira Rossa Cheese Now Available!

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We are excited to announce that Lira Rossa creamery is up and running! Smoked ricotta (ricotta affumcata) and handmade fresh mozzarella are available for purchase at our farm stand located next to the dairy. The mozzarella is $16/ lb (each ball is about 1/2 lb) and the smoked ricotta is $24/ lb (each piece is about 1/4 lb). In addition, Lira Rossa is currently delivering to Houston, Austin, and Victoria, and they will be selling cheese at the Bastrop farmers market starting in September. There are plans to expand to additional farmers markets, stores, and restaurants.  For more information please email Lira Rossa at info@lirarossa.com or send them a message on Facebook.

My favorite cheese is the mozzarella. It is delicious and oh so creamy! I love it on sliced tomato with fresh basil.  Earlier this summer, I used fresh tomatoes and basil straight from my garden.  I drizzled half of the slices with balsamic vinegar and half with olive oil and sprinkled them all with salt and pepper. I then proceeded to eat an entire ball of mozzarella without sharing it with my husband or kids.  It. Was. That. Good.

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The ricotta affumcata (which is just fun to say) is smoked with pecan. It is excellent shredded on pasta.  I also enjoyed just taking bites of it while drinking wine because I’m classy like that.

 

I haven’t tried the latteria yet because it is still aging and will be available in October. All of the cheeses are made with our milk, but the latteria is made with raw milk. In other words, the milk does not need to be pasteurized first because latteria is aged cheese. This is a picture of the cheese in the aging room, getting yummier every day, just waiting for you to purchase it come October.

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If you’ve tried the cheese, let us know what you think! If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?!

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Raw Milk Cheese, Yes Please!

The construction of our cheese plant is coming along nicely, but it will still be a while until cheese is being produced and then aged. I know you are ready to taste the delicious cheese made from our fresh raw milk, but you may not have realized that you already can!

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Susan Rigg, owner of River Whey Creamery, picks up our raw milk every Monday to make three fine aged cheeses: Keystone, an Italian farmhouse cheese, Caldera España, a Spanish cheese smoked over Texas pecan, and The Welshman, a Welsh cheese made with sea salt harvested in Wales. Is your mouth watering yet?!

In addition, she also makes two fresh cheeses which are not made from our raw milk, but they are just as delicious! St. Clements is available during the winter and is made with organic oranges and lemons, and Texas honey. Midsummer Surprise is a spreadable cheese that is available during the summer. It is made with Tahitian Vanilla Sea Salt and organic ginger. Oh. My. Yum.

River Whey Creamery artisanal cheeses are available at The Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio on Saturdays and Sundays and the New Braunfels Farmers Market on Saturdays. If you can’t make it to the market, I have great news!  They will ship their aged cheeses directly to you! Check out their online shop to order your cheese now!

As if that isn’t enough awesomeness, River Whey Creamery also offers monthly classes in which you prepare a dish using their delicious cheeses! If you want to keep up with the classes and other River Whey happenings, I highly suggest you like their page on Facebook.

Give River Whey Creamery cheeses a try and let us know what you think!

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Can You Handle the Cuteness?

Who doesn’t love baby animals? Baby calves have the most precious little faces with big eyes and long lashes. We had a weekend full of brand new baby calves and I just have to share the cuteness. Get ready to say, “awwwwww”!

One of Scott’s responsibilities is to check all of the expectant momma cows. The whole family decided to tag along on Saturday, and boy are we glad we did.  All six grandkids got to witness a baby calf being born!

Then we headed back to the barn to visit two more calves who were about a day old. The babies of our family, Claire and Clayton, enjoyed meeting this sweet baby.

We continued driving around looking for calves and witnessed this sweet moment of a momma nursing her baby.

The next morning, Grandpa, Krisie, and Claire rescued two calves that had been abandoned by their moms. One of the babies was still wet from being born, so Claire helped dry her off.

What do you do with abandoned baby calves? You take them to your house and bottle feed them! It started to rain so we moved them to the shelter of the patio. Grandpa gave Eli a lesson on how to hold the bottle. The little bull calf was shaking, so he was wrapped in a towel while Krisie fed him. The kids had so much fun (I’m pretty sure the adults did too), and they learned a lot.

Just to push the cuteness factor up a notch, we had a baby bull calf born a few weeks ago that was so teeny tiny. He was about the size of a dog! Can you handle all of the cuteness?!

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