Our cows are the centerpoint of this farm. We work for them, and they work for us. Our cows graze on our pastures for half the year. The other half the year, they eat hay that we make ourselves. In addition to the dairy herd, we raise beef cows and pigs. There is more information on our herds, herd management practices, and processing below the animal bios (updated Spring 2017)
ROSIE – #002
Milk Production: 17,388 pounds since August 2015 (that’s 4,830 gallons!)
Likes: corn meal treats, her babies
Oh Rosie, you stubborn beautiful brown swiss. At 6.5 years, Rosie was born on May 1, 2010 to Ruby (our oldest cow in the milking herd) and Motown (a bull not from Cricket Creek – Rosie is a product of artificial insemination). During the day she hangs with her half sister in the milking herd Ruth (a nursing calf). Soon she’ll be joined by her other half sister Reianna and granddaughter Rowan, both currently in the heifer herd. In addition to the 3 bulls and 1 heifer Rosie has given birth to, she’s been a dedicated mother to the 3 bull calves she’s been nursing over the past 5 months. Her current lactation cycle started in August of 2015 (over 500 days) and she has produced over 17,300 pounds of milk during that time.
Rosie has a pension for trouble. Once while she was a heifer, she took advantage of the electric fences being off and snuck down to the road to visit a bull. Nine months later she surprised the farm with her first calf no one was expecting.
PERSEPHONE – #313
Milk Production: 37.7 pounds a day (that’s 4.38 gallons!)
Likes: grass, sunny days, farmer Emily
Dislikes: the pigs
Persephone is one of our beautiful full brown swiss in the milking herd. She’s in her first lactation cycle, having calved a bull on May 11th of this year. At just over 3 years, Persephone was born on October 29, 2013 to Pegasus (a cow no longer with us, daughter of Polly) and Philly (a bull we raised, son of Paris who is still in our milking herd). During the day she hangs with her half sisters in the milking herd Posey, Shaka, and Lilith and her grandmother Paris. Soon she’ll be joined by her other half sisters Patsey, Forest and Philomena who are currently in the heifer herd. Topher would like to add she’s got a big attitude and gave him a head-butt last week.
Milk Production: 46 pounds a day (5.34 gallons)
Likes: head scratches
Dislikes: walking far distances
Shiloh is a full brown swiss, born on November 11, 2010 to Shirley (still in our milking herd) and Titanium (a bull not from Cricket Creek – Shiloh is also a product of artificial insemination). During the day she hangs with her daughters Shania and Springer. She’s also had 2 bull calfs, the last of which she hid by the stream after giving birth and Emily had to track him down (I’m told this is an act of protection and she was being a good mother). Shiloh is known by Toper and Emily as a “good cow” and is very friendly with people. Look for her during your next visit and she’ll probably let you give her a pat.
CLEMENTINE – #003
Milk Production: 35 pounds a day (4 gallons)
Likes: alone time
Dislikes: cow crowds
Clementine holds a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because she stands out due to her pace but I feel like I can relate to this cow. You will always find her taking her time when walking with the herd, she’s always at the back of the line. Topher and Emily say this is due to the social hierarchy of the herd (she falls at the bottom), but I like to think she’s pondering the more serious questions in life, and just can’t do that when theres other cows crowding her space. Either way, her slower speeds and stubbornness lead to many ill feelings about her by the farmers here.
Born on May 8, 2010 Clementine is 6.5 years old, daughter of Cambridge and Epic (an AI sire), she’s the first of our Jersey cows to be featured. Clementine has had five children – 2 bulls, Colette (the first of our heifers to be entirely raised on her mother and not a bottle, she’s also in the milking herd), Cantaloupe and Calliope (both in the heifer herd) and is due to have her 6th on June 18th. Clementine spends her days grazing with her sister Cashew and niece Coconut and will soon be joined by her other niece Caramel and her granddaughter Calypso.
Milk Production: 33.5 pounds a day (3.89 gallons)
Born on March 29, 2019 Paris is our 6th oldest cow in the milking herd at almost 8 years old. She is the daughter of Buddy PJ (a huge brown swiss) and TD. Paris has had five calves – three boys (one of which we raised as a Bull, Philly) and two girls who she nursed, Piper and Penza. Piper is currently in the milking herd on her first lactation. Penza is still in the heifer herd and will be joining her mom in the spring when she has her first calf. You can visit Paris’ granddaughter Pickle in the calf pin behind the silo. I don’t have much to say about Paris, as I haven’t had much interaction with her. Topher tells me this is true to her character, as she’s a well behaved cow that’s not overly affectionate, so she doesn’t tend to stand out. Although she is a very beautiful and well proportioned brown swiss.
Milk Production: 24.3 lbs a day (2.8 gallons)
Lillith, a full brown swiss, was born on September 10, 2013 making her just over 3 years old. She has had one calf, Leland, who is a young heifer. Unusually we don’t have a record on her father but her mother was Lady, who was our record holder for days in milk. Lillith is another under the radar cow – she’s quiet, a little skittish and usually goes unnoticed. However Emily says she’s the number 2 to Dragon, the current leader of the herd.
Milk Production: 33.9 lbs a day (3.94 gallons)
Penelope is a big, beautiful Brown Swiss born on September 2, 2011. She’s had two calves – one bull and one heifer (Patsy). Her mother Buddy PJ was a majestic animal and was tough as nails. You did not mess with Buddy PJ. Penelope has inherited much of her mom’s personality. She doesn’t like to be told what to do, and has no problem using her significant bulk to get what she wants. Lately, whenever we have to separate a cow for some reason – to investigate lameness, to dry off, etc…Penelope comes along, and generally makes things more difficult! When we don’t need her to do anything special, however, she behaves very well – she is very good in the milking parlor, and goes about her business just fine.
Penelope spends her days hanging with her sisters Paris, Pippa, Pricilla and her niece Piper. Soon she’ll be joined by her daughter Patsy (one of our friendliest cows), nieces Prism and Penze and grand niece Pickle who are all currently in the heifer herd.
Milk Production: 38 pounds a day (~4.5 gallons)
Fiona is one of our pure Jersey cows, a sweet cow generally, but in classic Jersey fashion can get extremely stubborn when ask to do anything out of her normal routine. She is six years old and has had four calves, including Fiona, a heifer who will have her first calf this spring. When she was younger, Fiona suffered from seasonal allergies and had the classic symptoms – runny nose, weepy eyes, etc. At first we thought it was a nasal infection and treated her daily with a concoction of yogurt and garlic. Over time, the issue has gone away, and she has had few other issues. She is a classic “good cow,” one we don’t notice much because she causes no problems!
Fat: 6.5% this lactation, 5% overall
Milk Production: 40 pounds a day (4.65 gallons)
When thinking about featuring Halo, I realized she’s a bit of a mystery. I don’t know much about her, aside from she seems to be quite mellow and is one of the most photographed cows on the farm by outside visitors. What I learned was that unlike most of our cows, Halo was bought in several years ago and therefore doesn’t have many relatives on the farm except her granddaughter Heromine in the heifer herd. We’re not entirely sure her breed makeup but it definitley consists of half Holstein and either half Swiss or Short Horn. Due to this, Halo is easily our most identifiable cow – her height, coloring and markings set her apart from the other Brown Swiss and Jerseys. She just had her tenth birthday making her the second oldest cow at Cricket Creek but has maintained her status as one of the top milking producers in the herd both in terms of milk quantities and fat percentages. Currently in her 7th lactation, Halo will have another calf in early June.
SPRINGER – #304
Milk Production: 26.7 lbs/day (3.1 gallons)
Springer is one of our pure bred Brown Swiss cows. Born in March of 2013, she is just two weeks shy of her fourth birthday! Springer was named for Springer Mountain, the location of the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. She was born around the time when Cricket Creek farmer Matthew Ball was embarking on a trek of the trail, and named thus to mark the occasion.
Springer is one of our friendliest cows, sometimes to the point of being annoying. She is happy to stand at the fence for a head scratch, and will not hesitate to give you a big lick on the face. She has little respect for fences, and is usually the instigator of breakouts by the dairy herd. At times it seems she is intentionally disrespecting our authority, crossing fences to new paddocks as soon as being let out, ignoring the beautiful fresh grass she is allowed to have in favor of the forbidden fruit. She is rarely in a hurry, slow to leave the milking parlor or get up out of bed in the morning.
Despite her sometimes challenging antics, she is a sweet cow with a mild temperament. She is good in the parlor and has always been very healthy. Her mother Shiloh is still in the milking herd, along with sister Shania. Springer is just finishing up her first lactation and is due to calve on May 13th.
ROXY – #309
Milk Production: 36 pounds a day (4.18 gallons)
Roxy is a pure Jersey born on July 5th, 2013, making her 3 years and 8 months old. Her mother is Rhubarb (still in our milking herd) and her father is Epic, an artificial insemination (AI) Jersey bull. Roxy is one of our best cows – in fact Emily considers “the best” cow in the herd. She is a great producer, has had no health issues, is well behaved and responsive. She is friendly, but not cloyingly so. She is a smaller Jersey, but has no trouble asserting herself in the herd. Her sister Radish is a young heifer, just a year old. Roxy is due to have her second calve on May 12th. Her first calf, Ryan, is still on the farm and we are raising as a bull. He’s just over a year and will begin breeding heifers in the spring/summer.
Buttercup, pictured on the right, is the only pure Holstein in the Cricket Creek herd. Her classic black and white markings stand out amongst the grays and browns of our Brown Swiss and Jerseys. Buttercup is a recent addition to the herd – this past fall, with a transition to seasonal calving in the works, I was concerned we might be short of milk. A small farm just a few miles away had some soon-to-calve heifers available. If you live in or around Williamstown it is quite possible you have met Buttercup or some of her friends in the past. She spent her youth eating grass on the hill above the Clark Art Institute and her first winter at the base of Mt. Greylock at the Haley Farm, where the Hopper Trail begins. Richie Haley and Carl Sweet raise a handful of replacement heifers every year in two of the most beautiful places around.
This photo of Buttercup intentionally includes my son Charlie, as we named her after the main character in one of his favorite books – “Buttercup’s Lovely Day,”
a wonderfully accurate poetic description of a day in the life of a cow.
Buttercup had her first calf here at Cricket Creek Farm, and has settled nicely into the herd. She prefers hanging out with her three friends from the Haley farm – Vreni (Brown Swiss), Millie (Jersey/Holstein cross) and American Pharoah (Jersey/Holstein cross). She was the first of the four to calve and adjusted well to the milking parlor. Her friends have been a bad influence and she got a bit kicky once they joined her in the dairy herd. She still has a mellow personality and is making lots of milk.
Many people assume that Holsteins make inferior milk by definition. While there are differences across breeds, milk is most influenced by what the cows eat and how they are treated, not their genetic makeup. While Buttercup has been a welcome addition, we do not plan on keeping any of her calves, as American Holsteins tend to produce lower fat and protein and are large, inefficient grazers.
Weight: around 600 pounds
Likes: baked goods, cheese, popcorn, leafy greens, whey, milk, etc.
Dislikes: getting out of bed
I love the pigs. I LOVE THE PIGS. But I don’t have to work with the pigs. They can be trouble makers and regularly are where they’re not supposed to be. I’ve seen them stop traffic, sneak around the barn to the whey tank, and go on unsupervised hikes to Field Farm. They have torn down their houses, broken through fences, and are well aquatinted with the interior of the neighbors chicken coop. Topher and Emily have different views on the pigs than me, but we all agree Ophelia is one of the best animals on the farm. The matriarch of Cricket Creek.
Ophelia was born in June of 2013 making her 5.5 years old. Born to Beatrice (our first sow), she is mostly heritage Tamworth with a little Berkshire Old Spot. She has given birth to 72 piglets over 5 litters! Portia was Ophelia’s daughter, and our other current sows Lady Macbeth and Gertrude are her granddaughters. Ophelia is a great mom, and despite her size, moves gracefully maneuvering around several 3lb wobbling and quick piglets, she’s attentive and gentle. She has never been aggressive towards humans, but is not the most excited to see you when she doesn’t feel like getting out of bed on cold winter days.
We have a mixed herd of mostly Brown Swiss and Jersey. Both of these breeds are known for good production and mostly importantly, good components (fat and protein) in the milk. Depending on the time of year, we milk between 20 and 30 cows. Every one of our cows has a name, a unique personality, and a special niche in the farm community. Our calves love visitors, so please pay them a visit when you come to the farm. They are in the back shed, past the silo. Our cows are milked twice daily – at 6:30am and 5pm. You are welcome to observe milking if you come during that time – we have windows from our farm store into the milking parlor.
The beef cows are all Hereford and Black Angus. They are excellent grazers, and are very hardy. Our beef cattle live outside all the time. In the summer they are rotationally grazed through pastures, and in the winter they live on our hay fields eating the forage we put up for them in the summer.
Our pigs are a mix of heritage breeds. We have three breeding sows: a mix of Tamworth and Hampshire. Our pigs eat mostly whey, which we have plenty of as a by-product of our cheese making. We supplement the whey with vegetable scraps and spent grain from local breweries. Our pigs live on pasture where they are rotated throughout the warm months in a wagon-wheel configuration. In this setting, they can root around, eat bugs and grass, and enjoy the sunshine.
All of our beef cows and pigs are slaughtered and butchered at Eagle Bridge Custom Meat & Smokehouse, in Eagle Bridge, NY. We choose to take our animals to Eagle Bridge because they place paramount importance on animal care and high quality meat. They are Animal Welfare Approved, and slaughter in the most humane manner possible. They take good care of our animals up until the last moments of their life, and treat the meat with respect as they cut it up. We are pleased to partner with them!