A dairy farmer’s work is never done, but when you get the face-to-face interaction with customers enjoying your product, the work becomes rewarding, according to Amy Tilley-Tipton.
Located in Unicoi County, approximately one mile off of I-26, The Cows Are Out Dairy Farm keeps Amy and her husband, Jack Tipton, busy from sun-up to sundown. Their days are spent taking care of dairy cows, milking, making cheese and butter, and loading up their delivery truck for drop-off locations around the Tri-Cities. They are also regulars at the Johnson City Farmer’s Market.
People seek them out for their raw milk. Amy became interested in raw milk when her now 14-year old son started drinking milk from a bottle. She wanted to give him the best possible nutrition and after researching her options she decided to purchase a cow. That decision paved the way for the Tipton’s farming business.
Six dairy cows later and approximately 100 acres (between their farm in Unicoi County and another in Greene County), the Tiptons are offering a natural food alternative to individuals and families in the area.
Amy said people often ask them how they came up with the name “The Cows Are Out.” She said that, one year, they had a lot of new calves. The calves were constantly getting out and every morning before 6 a.m. a neighbor would call to tell them their calves were out once again. One rainy and cold morning, the phone rang early in the pre-dawn hours and she exclaimed loudly to Jack, “If we ever name this place, we are going to call it 'The Cows Are Out' because that is all I ever hear!”
Amy and Jack both grew up on a farm, or around livestock animals, and are dedicated in their belief of humane treatment of their animals. They do not allow tail-docking or the use of farrowing crates. Their calves are fed by their mothers and not on a bottle.
The Tiptons have a storefront on their farm where individuals can purchase raw milk, kefir, mozzarella, cheese curds, yogurt, butter, buttermilk and free range eggs. They also have honey and a large assortment of jams. Farm visits are welcomed. However, they just ask that you call ahead, so a time can be arranged to show visitors around.
In addition to their dairy products, farm-raised beef and pork are offered. They never give their livestock antibiotics or hormones and their milk is sent to an independent lab for testing. I was fortunate enough to receive a sample of the whole milk, which interestingly has 3.9 grams of fat per serving, compared to 8 grams of fat in your commercialized whole milk.
Cheese-making takes place throughout the week and Amy was in the process of making mozzarella cheese the day I met her. She makes a variety of cheeses and flavors to sell. The sample of mozzarella I had was amazing and was my first taste, but definitely not my last taste, of fresh cheese.
Amy is not hesitant to point out that owning a dairy farm requires working seven days a week and that vacation time is not an option. The Tipton’s entire day is structured around the work on the farm and she laughingly mentions that she can’t remember the last time they had a day off or a vacation.
Despite the hard work and hours, Amy said they have many loyal and repeat customers and she loves to hear stories about the health benefits many of them have received from their milk. Customers have shared stories about improvements in eczema, easier digestion for individuals sensitive to dairy, and the grass-fed beef being better for individuals with gout.
The emotion is evident when Amy talks about how it makes everything worthwhile when you get to know your customers, their children, and share in the contribution of making them physically feel better.
The Tiptons drop off their offerings at locations in Johnson City, Kingsport, Jonesborough, Limestone and Greeneville throughout the week and you can find them at the Johnson City Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. They always welcome new customers. For a complete list of drop-off locations and days, along with more information about their farm, visit http://www.thecowsareoutdairy.com, “Like” The Cows Are Out Dairy on Facebook, or call 423-929-2427 or 423-534-8225.