Today: Our Assistant Editor Leslie Stephens visited Tiashoke Farm in New York to find out a little more about what it's really like to be a dairy farmer.
Back in September, Food52's Assistant Editor Leslie Stephens traveled north to Tiashoke Farm in Buskirk, New York, to spend a day exploring the dairy farm and learning from the farmers, Stuart and Jessica Ziehm. She toured the barns, met some of the cows, got to talk through modern farming practice, and had lunch together at the farmers' home (burgers, of course, made with Cabot cheese, the dairy cooperative the Ziehms are a part of). "The farm wasn't organic, and I used to equate non-organic with being bad—but that changed when I went to the dairy farm," Leslie told me.
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Over the course of the day, Leslie was struck by the farm's intimacy. "I didn't realize that big farms"—that is, farms that have a lot of animals—"could still feel like small family farms," she said. (Even though Tiashoke Farm has a thousand cows, it is in fact a family farm shared by three brothers. About 95 percent of farms in the United States are family-owned!) She also said that while the farm is very business-oriented, it was very clear that the farmers care about the animals. "They could recognize the cows," she said, "and knew which were the shy ones and the playful ones, even though there are so many."
Let the farmers speak for themselves—and learn more about what they really do—by watching the video.