Dairy returns to bottled milk

Janelle Patterson, The Marietta Times

Ohio farm looking to have a new pasteurization and bottling process built by springtime

On 100 acres of pasture tucked in the rolling hills, sits a barn just six minutes outside of Belpre and Little Hocking.

It’s called Twin Pines Dairy, and that’s where a family of five is forging a new path down an old-fashioned road.

“My Grandpa and my Dad were dairy farmers down near Parkersburg,” Dave Florence said after a recent morning milking. “And just a year and a half before I was born, they switched from the old-fashioned glass bottle way to the bigger commercial way used by most places.”

But now, with his wife Tara, daughter Allison, 16, and twin 13-year-old sons, Austin and Adam, there’s a plan in motion to switch back.

They hope by springtime to have a new pasteurization and bottling process built, certified and selling old-fashioned milk from the farm’s storefront and in local coffee shops and small markets in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“It’s an opportunity to provide a different product, not saying the commercial way is better or worse, we just want to do it a little different, in a way that can be more intimate,” Florence said. “This way, we can keep it in the family and stay in business with a small farm giving those who want to know where their milk came from that answer.”

All five family members are up before dawn each day, and are feeding, milking and caring for their 100 head before breakfast.

“That’s common with cow farmers, but you start with them and take care of their needs before you ever take care of your own,” Florence said. “There are people that think farmers are out to be cruel to or abuse animals, but they see their needs met first. They’re our family.”

Two times a day, around 5 a.m. and by 4 p.m., 45 to 50 of the cows — the ones actively producing milk — begin, of their own accord, to line up outside a pen ready to file in and be milked six at a time.

“They know it’s time, they can feel it,” Florence explained.

He said his sons help to herd the cows into a pen and one will man a sliding door in the milking barn that allows the cows to file in.

“They really don’t fight it, because this feed in here is like candy to them,” he said.

Lined diagonally on an elevated concrete stoop, each cow has its own spot to nibble while prepared for milking.

Florence sanitized each teat with an iodine sanitizing solution, then cleared the teats of the first squirt of milk by a pull, called forestrip.

“That just makes sure we’ve cleared the line and the milk coming out is pure,” he explained.

Then Allison attached the milking units which pump all four teats at the same time.

“It sucks and then it lets go,” she said. “That takes maybe five minutes to finish milking the cow.”

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