On a recent three day farm tour across Kansas that you can read about here, gave me the chance to visit Blythe Angus Ranch.
White City, Kansas is home to one of our own bloggers on the tour Debbie Lyons-Blythe. She owns Blythe Angus Ranch. Debbie writes the blog Kids, Cows and Grass where she shares the adventures of being a cattle rancher, recipes and a mom to five kids.
Debbie along with her husband Duane and family raise high quality registered Angus cattle on the same land that has been in Duane’s family sine 1890. Debbie and her family are passionate about sustainability and are committed to leaving the land better than when they found it.
The Global Roundtable of Sustainable Beef have guidelines in place that defines sustainability for the entire world and they are that the environment needs to be protected, the animals must be treated properly and there needs to be an economic increase.
Each continent or country can then form their own Roundtable group and Debbie and Duane are founding members of the United States Roundtable of Sustainable Beef and meet with all sorts of people in the cattle and beef industry.
Blythe Angus Ranch
By using these guidelines for the past 30 years the beef industry has decreased the carbon footprint of beef in a major way. To raise a pound of beef, the industry now uses 20% less feed, 30% less land and 14% water which adds up to an 18% decrease in the carbon footprint.
Debbie along with her mom, sister and very good friends hosted an amazing evening for us showing us the beautiful registered Angus cattle and feeding us dinner. It was truly an amazing experience to be so up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. It was truly a Grazing in the Prairie event that people pay big bucks for.
Sunset at Blythe Angus Ranch
It is fascinating to hear Debbie talk about her passion for raising the best beef she can, the care and love she has for the cattle and the beauty of the prairie. We were lucky enough to catch a breathtaking sunset which gave us a taste of Debbie’s passion for this land and a beautiful way to end the day.
I recently had the chance to tour the McCarty Family Farms who supply fresh milk for Dannon Yogurt. This tour included some other farms in Kansas as well and you can read more about that here.
Located just a few miles from Colby you will find Rexford, Kansas which is home to the McCarty Family Farms, where we met Ken McCarty. He graciously shared the story of the his family farm which was started in 1914 by his Great Grandfather with eight cows in Pennsylvania.
McCarty Family Farms
Ken and his three brothers Clay, Mike and David are fourth generation dairymen who worked with their dad on the dairy farm in Pennsylvania. It came time to move the dairy if it was going to be profitable, so after searching throughout the Midwest, they settled in Rexford, Kansas in April of 2000.
They started milking 1200 cows which did not show much profit but plugged along eventually building another milking facility in Bird City, Kansas.
The McCarty’s big break came when they were approached in April of 2010 by Dannon Yogurt to produce milk for them. In order to do that the McCarty’s had to double their size and build a processing plant. They broke ground to build a new facility and had milk to Dannon in April 2012.
The McCarty’s now own four dairy’s with one in Beaver City, Nebraska and the others in Kansas including Scott City, Bird City and the processing plant/dairy in Rexford, where it processes all the milk from the 4 farms yielding about 650,000 pounds of raw milk a day. The farthest the milk travels to be processed is 80 miles which is milk from their Nebraska plant. There are about 140 employees between all the of the plants and business office which is located in Colby.
All the raw condensed skim milk goes to the Dannon plant in Dallas along with a portion of the heavy cream. The remaining cream is sent to the Daisy brand processing plant in Garland, Texas where it is made into sour cream.
McCarty Family Farms
If you check the bottom of your Dannon yogurt cup and it has plant number 48 stamped on it, most likely it is made from the McCarty’s milk which goes from the dairy to Dannon in 24 to 36 hours. I love eating local and knowing that a national brand I buy is using local milk from my home state makes me want to buy it even more!
All four dairies are certified by Validus, a major animal welfare firm that has very stringent guidelines on the care of dairy animals. They have also passed bio security audits, food safety audits and enviromental audits.
I was a bit concerned about going to a farm that produces milk for a major company thinking that the cows would be laying on top of one another covered with muck, but just as the case with the other farms on this tour this was totally not the true.
Newborn Calf at McCarty Family Farms Dairy
Spreading the cows over 4 dairies gives them the freedom to roam and the McCarty’s the space and resources to care properly for the cows. The baby calves are kept in separate pens to avoid being trampled, hurt or killed by any of the larger cows in the heard. Their spaces are kept clean and tidy with plenty of food and water. The larger cows are free to roam around in various pens around the dairy until they are taken to be milked.
McCarty Family Farms Calf
The cows are milked three times a day. Once milked which only takes 11 minutes, are then out free to roam again. Clean, comfortable and happy cows produce more milk and the McCarty’s work hard to ensure the cows meet that criteria. The cows are checked daily, the holding beds are cleaned three or more times a day, the cows are given plenty of space to freely move around and are fed a nutrient rich diet. The cows are NOT given RBST and only an antibiotic if it is medically necessary. If a cow then happens to need one her milk is not used until the medicine is out of her system.
McCarty Dairy Cows
Finding out the McCarty Family Farms is considered a “factory farm” totally changed my perspective on things. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule but I certainly will not have nightmare visions anymore when I here the term factory farm. I have so much more respect for the farmers as they go above and beyond to ensure the cows are well taken care of and the procedures they go through to make sure the milk is the highest quality as possible.
Be sure to check out the videos on the McCarty Family Farms website where you can watch how the cows are milked and learn more about the farm.
Cal-Ann Farms in Basehor, Kansas was the first stop on a recent three day farm tour I took across the state of Kansas. Myself along with a handful of other writers and bloggers were given the chance to visit six Kansas farms over three days and what we saw and learned was amazing. You can read more about the tour here.
This family owned basil farm produces almost all of the fresh Living Basil plants you see in the major grocery store chains in the Kansas City metro.
Jeff and Pam Meyer of Cal-Ann Farms
Jeff and Pam Meyer use hydroponics to grow basil, wheatgrass and few other fresh herbs year around without any pesticides. Hydroponic means no soil so Cal-Ann utilizes peat to keep the plant’s roots contained and moist while the plant still receives all its nutrients from the water.
Cal-Ann is named after Jeff’s parents Calvin and Annette Meyer who originally started Cal-Ann Farms as a dairy.
From seed to delivery to the store takes about 4 1/2 weeks. The basil is hand delivered to most of the major grocery store chains in the area. Cal-Ann Living Basil is the brand I buy so it was such a joy to see where my food comes from and meet the farmers that grow it.
Cal-Ann Farms Basil
Jeff and Pam are absolutely amazing and their love for growing basil shows. The farm is organized, clean and there are many measures in place to keep the herbs safe.
Me photographing some basil
I had a great time on the tour and the basil scent was delightful. I’m also excited for a new fresh pesto product coming soon from Cal-Ann. Jeff and Pam let the cat out of the bag that they have been working on a homemade pesto using their own local basil that will be available in stores by the holidays!
Cal-Ann Farms Basil Pesto
If you have ever made pesto before it is not terribly hard but does take a food processor and sometimes tricky to get the ratios of all the ingredients right making sure the garlic does not overpower the basil. This product will be a great way to have fresh basil pesto year around without any of the work.
From Basehor we made our way to Olsburg, KS where we went to Good Farm.