Riley Crest Farm
Tom & Kari Riley
and their children
Everlah, and Elwood.
Hello, and welcome to Riley Crest Farm:
I'm Tom Riley; with my wife, Kari, and our kids, we own and operate a certified-organic dairy enterprise - Riley Crest Farm. It's a win-win situation for us all to live and work on a home-place farm that bears our family name.
We choose to be an organic dairy as the best fit for our lifestyle and philosophy as a family farm. We work the land and manage the dairy herd as a family; for today, and the future.
Eldest son, Ethan (15), helps with milking the cows and doing field work like baling hay. The girls, Elisha (13) and Everlah (11), also help with milking cows and caring for the rabbits, poultry and pigs. The youngest, Elwood (7), helps in feeding young calves and a variety of other chores. Kari handles computer records, bookkeeping, and office and home operations (she's the boss). I take care of the cropland and pastures, animal breeding and feeding, animal health, milking, mechanicals, machinery, and maintenance.
A dairy farm is hands-on, heads-on work. We work with our hands on plenty of daily chores, and with our heads on business operations, financial planning, safety, breeding, animal health and nutrition, and much more.
We care for many animals, including 32 milking cows and 30 heifers, which are mostly Holstein and some Swiss crossbreds. They are milked seven head at a time in a flat-barn milking parlor. The farm's total land base is 180 acres, and features eight pasture-paddocks of native green grasses for cow grazing in season. For consistency in grazing pattern, cows are switched every one-to-three days across pastures ranging in size from 6-to-20 acres.
Healthy cows are productive cows, and this is our number-one priority. It all starts with good nutrition and individual cow care. And, comfortable cows are productive cows. This means protection from, and preparation for weather. In warm weather, our cows have access to plenty of shade and water, along with cooling sprinklers. Colder weather calls for extra straw bedding, plenty of feedstuffs, and well-built barns.
Riley Crest Farm is new to Westby Cooperative Creamery. We became patron-member-owners in 2012. Before this, we were members of a different cooperative. Changing membership from one dairy cooperative to another takes a lot of thought and discussion; it's not a snap decision.
For Kari and me, it was important to partner with a Wisconsin-based cooperative that is committed to the preservation of family dairy farms. The fact that Westby Cooperative Creamery has been in existence for over 100 years was proof to us of this commitment. Actually, it will be 110 years of operations in calendar year 2013. We're proud to now be part of this long history and generations of family dairy farms.
However, we're more excited about the present and future. Westby Cooperative Creamery has been growing in the number of family dairy farm members, like us, for several years. And, with us, they have been growing in the number of certified-organic family dairy farm members; now representing over half of the cooperative's membership and milk volume.
They've been growing in the millions of pounds of milk received annually from farms like ours, and those of other member-owners; and, growing in the millions of pounds of healthful dairy food products manufactured by our Creamery; including Cottage Cheeses, Sour Creams, Dairy Dips, Yogurts, Butter, Hard Cheeses, and more.
It is unique that a cooperative like Westby can manage two sources of milk from its member-owners; certified-organic, like the milk from our farm and others; and, what is called 'conventional' milk from the farms of other member-owners. Both milk types are rBST-Free, and all is delivered fresh to the Creamery from our local family farms.
We feel fortunate to have joined with the other family dairy farms of Westby Cooperative Creamery. In today's fast-paced and ever changing food industry, providing consumers with a choice in dairy-nutritious foods is important, and organic dairy foods is one of those choices. Many other organic food products are made from the components of our organic milk as ingredients, including organic whey proteins and dry milk powders.
Educating consumers about our food production system is also important to Westby Cooperative Creamery, and to us as member-owners. It all starts on our farms. We like to conduct tours on our farm, and we 'take our farm' to schools to help teach kids where their food comes from. We're always trying to reinforce the ties between those of us in the 'country' and those of you in the cities.
So, come on out and visit us sometime. You'll see what we mean when we say:
from the local family dairy farms
of Westby Cooperative Creamery.
Tom & Kari Riley & Family