Just one short month ago, Preston and Kristen Havens received their permit to bottle and sell their milk – a new venture for their family. Kristen graciously welcomed me to their farm in southeastern Mississippi last week to tag along during their farm duties for the afternoon.
When I arrived, I was greeted by their dog “Ford” and 3 children brushing and watering their ponies. A picturesque day on the farm, right? I must admit, my first thought was of how cool it must be to have your own pony as a kid! I think it would make those extra chores quite worth it.
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Kristen emerged from the house with a warm Southern welcome. She home schools her 3 oldest children, and keeps them on schedule for milkings and farm chores, while also caring for their youngest daughter. I asked if I could just follow along as it was nearing milking time. She continued on her path, with me following behind, as she let the some 18 or so cows into the gate near the barn. They took their time, leisurely strolling in for their feeding – quite happy cows, if you ask me. The milking process was simple – you give them food, they stay engaged a while for their milking, then on to the next few cows. They sanitize the cows and slip mechanical milking tubes on them, which pump the milk through lines and into a tank where the milk is held and pasteurized.
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Kristen explained their pasteurization process. Slowly pasteurizing milk at 145 degrees for 30 minutes, they believe, allows the good fat, which is rich in Omega 3s, and the original 9 essential vitamins and minerals to be preserved in the milk. This was the reason they bought their first cow – to supply their daughter with milk that her stomach could tolerate. Since Kristen’s husband grew up helping his grandfather on a dairy farm, they soon found themselves wanting to get back to those roots. Now, just three years later, they have succeeded.
Haven’s Down Home Creamery is located in George County, Mississippi. Their products – cream line milk, reduced fat milk, cream, chocolate milk, and buttermilk – are sold on the family farm as well as in a few local grocery stores. Like farm families all over the U.S., the Havens are dedicated to bringing the healthiest dairy products to local tables.
>> For more information about Southern dairy farmers, please visit Southeast United Dairy Industry Association’s website.
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