Farming the way it was, the way it should be…
The Woodbridge Dairy Farm isn’t all about the milk. Upon arriving at the farm we are greeted by gaggles of geese and flocks of ducks meandering around foraging in the brush. Looking closer we notice broods of hens (and a few roosters) also foraging alongside their fowl cousins. Paul, their son, darts in front of the car waving, heading to the milk shack conducting morning chores. Exiting the car we are immediately invited in to the milk barn, where we’re just in time to get a good glimpse of how John and his milking maidens maneuver through their morning milking.
The ladies parade into the milk barn on their own accord and station themselves in a bay. There is no luring or locking them in place, it is done on their own accord and at their own pace. John moves down the line cleaning udders, placing equipment and checking his maidens. If you are lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of an ear cleaning and good rub down. These lovely ladies are true members of the Uebbing family. They are known by name and each has a story. Recently their Jersey girl Michelle was in a photo shoot, can we say famous? Once they are milked they are free to leave and roam the forested acreage of the farm. If they are feeling homesick they can come back and forage in their barn as well… freedom is a given right for the Uebbing farm animals.
Woodbridge dairy farm is a grade A dairy farm, which is under John “the farmer”. His bovines provide over 200 gallons of milk a day, which is later carted away to be pasteurized and made in to cheese and various other dairy products. Karin is not to be outdone by her farmer husband though, she also has a dairy program. Producing around 25 gallons a day Karin operates a herd share program with families that are interested in FRESH unprocessed whole milk.
Unlike John, Karin did not grow up on a farm milking cows or chasing chickens. She married in to this life in 1999. She has learned through trial and error and loves to share her stories. Karin, also known as the duck lady, is in LOVE with ducks. This love started when her oldest son was diagnosed with an allergy to chicken eggs (which he has outgrown). She purchased 15 ducks, the lifelong lessons she gained were free. Duck eggs began to show up everywhere and the family couldn’t keep up with eating them, so Karin began to sell them. Stopping at ducks was never an option… Karin soon branched out to chickens, geese and recently even quail.
Milk and eggs… seems like a great breakfast… but where would it be without your bacon? The Uebbing family also raise pigs. Their pigs are a breed Karin specifically picked due to their foraging nature, English Large Black. As you walk in to the pig barn you hear squeals and grunts. I immediately notice several pigs doing what pigs do… playing in mud and eating. I am encouraged to touch them, pet them and even squirt them with water, “They love it” Karin states. Sure enough I spray and they go hog wild for it. Although they are enjoying the shade of the barn I quickly notice the HUGE plot of land behind them, fenced off specifically for their foraging. “Where are the cows?” I ask, I can’t see them in their pasture next to the pigs. Karin tells me how the cows enjoy foraging in the forest, they’ll come back when it’s time she reassures me. She wants all her animals to forage, live life as close to normal as possible. They are free to be animals and do what they do best.
I am determined to learn more about this amazing family. I start asking all sorts of questions, which they are more than happy to answer. “What do you feed your hogs when there isn’t enough to forage?” Karin explains that of the 170+ acres of farm they have a good portion of it is used to grow grain/corn to feed the livestock when necessary. If feed has to be purchased it is GMO Free, and she’ll pay top dollar to ensure her animals are well cared for. We begin talking about organic and GMO Free when I ask if their dairy farm is certified organic. The Uebbing farm is as natural as they come, only steps away from being certified USDA organic I’m told. They chose to not pursue the organic label due to high costs, but they are proud of their practices, which include: holistic remedies for sick animals, GMO Free feed when required above foraging, open range to forage and meander.
I ask each family member what their favorite part of farming is, followed with their least favorite. John likes being his own boss, being able to be with his family and animals at his own pace. His least favorite thing, the alarm clock! Page, the family kitten whisperer, loves the wide open space she has to roam and be free. Karin had the best answer, “The Farmer, if I didn’t like him I wouldn’t be here.” Well John, Karin, Paul and Paige… thank you for being farmers.
You'll find Karin at the market every Thursday from 7:00-2:00!
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