If you're like a lot of northerners, you've sported the all-natural, non-homogenized milk mustache made possible by Shetler Family Dairy. This year, you'll get a chance to taste more healthy and tasty products.
The Kalkaska-based dairy recently launched a spin-off company – Grandma Honey's – to offer a line of all-natural butter. The butter is crafted from Shetler's own heavy whipping cream and a touch of organic salt. It's churned right on the farm.
Also from Grandma Honey's pantry: honey butter, which features Star Thistle Honey from Sleeping Bear Farms in Beulah. Both can be found at Oryana Natural Foods Market, Burritts Fresh Markets, Folgarelli’s Market and Wine Shop and Maxbauer Specialty Meat Market in Traverse City, and JoJo’s Natural Market in Gaylord, as well as at the Shetler Farm Store in Kalkaska.
Shetler, which ventured into producing its own ice cream last year, is looking into adding more natural dairy products to its offerings.
Next up? Sour cream and spoonable yogurt, with fruit on the bottom.
The family credits their success to sustainable farming methods. Their cows are grass fed and pastured for five to seven months a year. Grass-fed milk and meat contain more healthy fats like Omega 3 and conjugated linoleic acid. No antibiotics, hormones, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are ever used.
“Our philosophy is that healthy soil produces healthy foods, which produces healthy animals and people,” explains Sally Shetler, matriarch of the family that has been running their 40-cow dairy farm in Kalkaska County since 1979. “We like to say ‘Our cows aren’t on drugs, but they are on grass!’”
Winter feeding includes hay and corn silage, all grown on the 500-acre farm.
“My husband (George) has always farmed that way,” says Shetler. Farming has been a way of life for the Shetlers and their five children. Two sons – Kaleb and Peter – work the farm full-time, along with three part-time staffers.
“We’ve always felt that all-natural milk with no antibiotics and no hormones was just healthier,” says Shetler. “For a long time, we were pretty much the only ones doing it that way. But I always felt it would pay off, and we always had healthy milk for the family.”
The cows are milked twice a day, yielding about 200 gallons. Then the milk is pasteurized at a low temperature of 145 degrees to maintain its maximum nutritional value. The milk is not homogenized and naturally separates into skim and cream milk, making digestion easier.
Two days a week the milk is bottled right on the farm to retain freshness and flavor. Then it’s trucked to some 40 retail locations across northern Michigan, from Gaylord to Glen Arbor and many sites in between.
Want to learn more about Shetler Family Dairy or visit the on-site Farm Store? Check out shetlermilk.com or call 231-258-8216.