Local Spotlight: Dreaming Cow Creamery: Where Happy Cows Produce Heavenly Yogurt
By Sandy Beck
If indeed we are what we eat, then I would like the yogurt that nourishes my family every morning to come from cows that wander lush, green pastures all day and rest on the same soft grass at night.
That is why the top shelf of our refrigerator is filled with little containers of yogurt from the Dreaming Cow Creamery, located just 90 miles north of Tallahassee.
Kyle Wehner, 26, grew up on a farm but didn’t want to be a farmer. He designed web sites and helped with the family cheese business. “I was more interested in the production end,” Kyle explained.
When he grew curious about ecological farming practices, his parents sent him to Massey University in New Zealand where Kyle studied science and learned about sustainable land management. He also met the love of his life, Janelle, 25, a New Zealander who was majoring in food technology.
After a fairy tale wedding in New Zealand, Kyle and Janelle moved back to South Georgia where the Wehner family was already hip-deep in unconventional dairy farming.
Kyle’s parents, Al and Desiree Wehner, own the Jumping Gully Farm in Pavo, Georgia, where cows—untouched by growth hormones or stimulants—thrive on rich grasses rather than being confined to concrete barns.
Kyle and Janelle decided to build a creamery at Jumping Gully where they could milk the cows and produce and market very special yogurt right on the farm. Some of this milk is also sent to the Sweet Grass Dairy where Kyle’s sister Jessica and her husband Jeremy use it to produce their cow cheese.
Recently, I walked with Kyle and Janelle among the cows as they moseyed from one pasture to the next, and Kyle explained how sustainable, rotational grazing works at Jumping Gully.
When the cows are young, they learn the daily routine: Munch a few hours in one five-acre paddock, move on to the next five-acre paddock, and so on, until they’ve munched their way around the entire pastureland. This gives the grass time to grow and lets the cows soak up Vitamin D, get exercise and socialize with their friends. On hot summer days, an irrigation system mists cool water over the grazing animals. Once a day, lured by the promise of sweet grain, they all pass through the milking area.
After donning the requisite white booties, coats and hats, we entered the sparkling clean creamery and learned about Dreaming Cow Creamery’s yogurt production.
First, they pasteurize (sterilize) the fresh milk by heating it to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, a step required by the FDA. When it cools, the Wehners add four different live cultures and add other ingredients to their flavored yogurts.
Dreaming Cow Creamery produces three different kinds of yogurt: plain, which tastes naturally luscious and is my favorite; Vanilla and Agave Nectar; and Tupelo Honey.
They transfer the finished yogurt to a packing machine, an incubator and finally to the walk-in cooler.
At Dreaming Cow Creamery there are no additives, either in the cows’ food or the yogurt, and no stabilizers. The tupelo honey comes from Georgia bees.
What also makes this yogurt exceptional is the whole, non-homogenized milk. Milk fat is left in its natural state and rises to the top as a creamy layer. If you prefer low-fat yogurt, simply skim the cream off the top.
Some experts attribute the high incidence of milk allergies and lactose intolerance to the homogenization process. Non-homogenized milk products are reported to be easier for lactose-intolerant people, like me, to digest. I know that I cannot eat other brands of yogurt, even with a Lactaid pill, but I can enjoy Dreaming Cow Creamery all day without a single gastric problem!
There are plenty of reasons to buy Dreaming Cow Creamery yogurt: it’s made by laid-back cows, delightful people and its delicious, dreamy, creamy goodness.