Ashlee Kleinhammer and her partner, Steven Googin, raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) beef cattle and dairy cows at North Country Creamery on 112 acres of half-wooded land in Keeseville, New York. After graduating in 2006, Ashlee worked on numerous farms across New York and Vermont. She started by working on educational farms for summer camps and visiting student programs, but soon discovered her real passion was the “behind-the-scenes, in-the-dirt work,” and, specifically, “hands-on-teats” farming! Always inexplicably fond of the bovine, Ashlee now runs North Country Creamery and manages the farm’s 20 milking cows, seven heifers, and seven calves.
With an interest in grassfed genetics, the herd is made up of a mix of Jerseys and Milking Shorthorns. The Jerseys are important for their high butterfat, required in cheese-making. Since the public are invited to the farm at events throughout the year, it is important the cows are docile and friendly, too. The cows are rotationally managed on pasture, allowing the animals to graze one section of pasture at a time, before they are moved on to fresh grazing. This process lets the grass recover before the cows return to graze again; it also keeps the soil properly fertilized and minimizes the build-up of potential pest and diseases.
Ashlee is passionate about the importance of raising cattle on pasture: “The cows are eating the most nutritious meal possible, promoting proper rumen microbial activity, and consuming what their bodies are designed to consume.” Ashlee adds, “It makes everyone happy! What’s a better sight than watching cows click their heels together as they bound out to pasture for the first time in the spring?”
On why they chose to become Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Ashlee explains, “We are seeking to reach out to people who care about sustainable agriculture and farm animal welfare. We want people to see that label on our products and recognize that we are making a conscious effort to treat the cows with love and respect.”
Looking to the future, Ashlee and Steven are striving to become a community hub for local farmers and friends, and the general public to encourage and enjoy a connection with the land. Above all, they look forward to doing what they love: “Being outside, raising animals and feeding ourselves and our neighbors,” Ashlee says.
North Country Creamery’s range of high-quality Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW dairy products and beef products are available directly from the farm store and through their CSA. They also sell products at a number of farmers’ markets and stores throughout the NY region. For more information, visit www.northcountrycreamery.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 518-645-2697. For farm news and photos, follow North Country Creamery on Facebook.