Natural Pastures values fresh, quality ingredients, which is why we choose to select our cow and water buffalo milk from the most pristine farms on Vancouver Island. Read more below to discover the farms that Natural Pastures works with to provide you with our award-winning artisan cheese.
Bordering the well-known Puntledge River, Viewfield Farm is located on Vancouver Island in Courtenay, BC. This award-winning farm stretches across 280 acres of land and is home to Dave and his brother Will Taylor, their parents, and roughly 300 Holstein cows.
Growing up on a dairy farm, Dave Taylor has been around cows for as long as he can remember. “Seeing each generation change and improve and having the opportunity to play a part in their development is one of my favourite things about being a dairy farmer,” says Dave “Each cow has their own personality, and they are all so friendly, it’s really easy to relate to them”. With his many years of experience, dairy farming has easily become second nature to Dave.
The keys to the Taylor’s success this far? “Attention to detail, consistency and maintaining a
Dave is proud of the meaningful legacy he will be leaving his family and his community. “What keeps me going is the next generation. Every day when I drive my tractor up the road, I pick up my 16-month-old Grandson on the way. He wears his little safety vest, and we go and get the feed for the cows together.” With four generations living on the farm, you can see how intertwined the family is with the industry, the land, the community, and their animals. “My son is committed to investing personally in the farm, and we are working toward a transition plan where he could take over the farm. With so few dairy farms left on Vancouver Island it is important to the Taylor family that their farm continues right here in this community.
While dairy farming can be rewarding, it has its fair share of challenges. Between feeding, cleaning, milking and field work, Dave is often working 12 to 14-hour days. It isn’t uncommon in the summer months to start work before the sunrise and finish after the sun sets. “Farming pulls you in. If it’s in you, it’s in you. You have to love it,” says Dave. And while the Taylor’s clearly have that love, farming is still a business. Just like any business, there’s that risk of losing it all.
In 1982, with interest rates skyrocketing to over 20%, Dave’s parents were forced to shut down the family farm in Victoria. They were down, but not out. With perseverance and a love for the trade, Dave’s parents decided to not give up on farming, and the family moved to Duncan for a fresh start and then in 1995, the Taylor’s bought the land now known as Viewfield Farm here in Courtenay.
Now, the farm has once again grown, and holds over 300 Holstein cows, four generations of Taylor’s and one family cat. It was clear in talking to Dave that a love for farming and a care for the animals is what is his driving force. But along with this is the challenge of balancing inputs and outputs, of caring for sensitive land that backs along the Puntledge River, of being sustainable in everything that they do. This means thoughtful discussions and intentional decision making that focusses on doing what is best for the long term viability of the farm and our surrounding community.
The Taylors have always been focused on high standards and they are leaders in the industry when it comes to the care of their animals. This is reflected in the many rewards the farm has received for milk quality. It is not uncommon for the Taylor’s to be in the top 5 for milk quality in the province each year – something they are extremely proud of because that is the foundation of dairy farming – quality milk for our community.
To learn more about Viewfield Farm visit www.viewfield.ca
Home to over 120 water buffalo all of which are 100% grass fed, McClintocks Farm is located on Vancouver Island in Courtenay, B.C. According to the McClintocks website, “Grass fed means that our buffalo are out grazing in the fields from about April until the grass stops growing in the fall. In the winter months, when they cannot be outside, they are fed grass silage. We do not feed any grains and all our feed is non-GMO. This reflects the natural diet of a water buffalo.”
Water buffalo have become an integral part of the McClintocks Farm ever since they purchased their first 15 females from a farm in Duncan, B.C. and one male from Stirling, Ontario. In 2011, the McClintocks designed and built a barn, and retrofitted an older building on the property to become their milking parlour. The first water buffalo baby was born on the morning of March 8, 2012, and the farm has since expanded to over 120 water buffalo.
During their years working with water buffalo, the McClintocks Farm has learned a lot about how to properly care for and raise water buffalo. “We strongly believe that our animals deserve to be cared for with kindness and respect and we strive to provide a healthy, natural, stress-free environment for them.” During the spring and summer seasons, the water buffalo are free to graze on the grass pasture and are only brought in to be milked twice a day. During the winter, the water buffalo are housed in a loose, sawdust packed barn.
The McClintocks have developed a thorough understanding of how to keep their herds happy and healthy and keep them together in small groups. Water buffalo form strong bonds with their herd mates and can become easily stressed out if they are mixed with unfamiliar animals and will often sleep huddled together with their heads resting on each other’s backs.
As for the final product, water buffalo milk is higher in calcium and protein, and lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk, with a pure white colour and a rich and creamy texture. For people who may have intolerances to traditional cow’s milk products, the protein in water buffalo milk is different, making it a much more suitable substitution to cow’s milk.
To learn more about McClintocks Farm (and to meet the herd) visit www.mcclintocksfarm.ca