Chaseholm Farm starts as a sibling effort in family farming. Sarah manages the dairy herd and their grazing lands, while Rory turns that milk into delicious cheeses. We are third generations farmers whose relationship to the land is built on principles of sustainable agriculture.
The dairy herd is grazed from late April until December when their needs become entirely met by hay and baleage (fermented hay) that we cut, rake and bale all summer long knowing winter will come again. We believe that the quality of our milk is deeply related to the quality of our soil and the life that it can support. Because of this belief we practice Holistic Management. Most simply put, is a tool for us to apply as well as principles that guide us to achieve whole farm viability. Holistic Management of our farm helps us ensure that we are giving back to the land and soil as we graze the cows upon it, ultimately improving the resource base of our farm and its ability to be healthy and productive. Allan Savory says it best. "Ultimately, the only wealth that can sustain any community, economy or nation is derived from the photosynthetic process—green plants growing on regenerating soil." If you're interested, watch Alan Savory's TED Talk or grab a copy of his book. Summer 2017 is also when we receive our long awaited 100% Grass-Fed and Organic Certifications from Pennsylvania Certified Organic.
Creating farmstead cheeses gives us a chance to see our product from pasture grass to Camembert, our attention guiding it all the way. We are here to continue our family farm and a tradition of agriculture in our region while making products that honor both the body and the farm as living organisms and promote their good health. This includes meats from our grass-fed cows and as well as raw milk available at the farm. The dairy herd is managed by a passionate crew of young farmers, evidenced below. ;) Come visit us while we milk!
I was raised amidst admiration teetering on veneration for the Holstein cow. Each heifer represented the full potential of her genetics, her dam, grand-dam and those of her sire and sometimes that potential paid off. We always classified our cows, taking pride in histories being built with 2E92 mothers of VG daughters at first calving and the hopeful climb to Excellent through lactations, my father rattling off a pedigree for another interested farmer. In that environment, especially at shows, my love of the Holstein was built. I have a liminal perspective though, I can see them for their beauty, incredible stature, dairyness and tremendous capacity but I can also see that they have been blemished. They have been bred out so much that the genetics that are left are hardly comparable to those of the past. I really believe the cows we breed today are shadows of their great-great-great-grand dams. (especially if we get into the role that nutrition and environment plays on genetic manifestation) The maternal line has been diluted. I have a good feeling about the care that my family bred cows with but in general I have a bad feeling about the genetics that I am being offered today. So, as I begin this life with cows and take up this legacy of my father’s I have had big decisions to make. Do I keep the giant 1600lb Holstein who could eat 60-70lbs of dry matter/day and make 100+lbs of milk or do I forgo Chase family history and buy a herd of bird boned Jersey cows that may fare better on grass and make much better milk for cheese making and raw milk drinking. To some it’s a no brainer; to me it is complicated. I inherited a herd. I have 30ish cows. So far I have about half Jersey’s and the rest are Dad’s Holsteins. I am trying to feed for high components regardless of breed and I am also breeding my Holsteins to bulls that have the A2A2 beta-casein. I would like to walk into my barn and see on one side a full string of Jersey’s bred for grass performance and on the other a fleet of Holstein-Fresians or Holsteins home bred from 1960’s semen. A nod to my past with an infusion of what I believe is sustainable and practical- I’d really like to become an accomplished breeder of the Holstein-Fresian and the Jersey cow, both for grass but also for type. I want good looking cows- I can’t help it! I’d also LOVE to have crosses and Swiss and Guernsey’s too. I’m hoping to make the best tasting milk so I’d like a little bit of everything.