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Milking It


Story and photos by Clint Branham


LOMAH Dairy’s real dairy products keep customers coming back for more


What you won’t see is the magnifi cent spring behind the barn that nourishes the meadow below. It pumps more than a million gallons of crystal clear water every day, even during the worst summer drought. The family of Jersey cows that call this farm home drink from this spring and graze contentedly on the sprawling pastures that fan out over more than 200 acres, but these lovely ladies won’t turn their noses up at the tasty snack of grains they enjoy during their twice-daily milking ritual.


Behind the scenes are fi ve members of the Johnson family, each of whom labors  relessly to accomplish the daily task of keeping the dairy farm running strong—and churning out a product that has es- tablished a reputa on for excellence. The fall sun hangs low on the western horizon in full view of farm, but the day is not nearly done. Sunrise and sunset do not govern the workday here.


Here is our conversa on with Stanley and Donna Johnson who, along with their three children: John, Will and Grace, own and operate LOMAH Dairy, a Northeast Oklahoma Electric Coopera ve member-business, located in the rural Wyando e community.


I am sure our readers would enjoy hearing about how you came to be in the dairy business. “Stanley had a small herd of Jersey cows when he was young. He started with one Jersey named Rosie as a 4-H project. He sold raw milk to the public through his teenage years and sold his herd before heading off to college at Oklahoma State University. In 2002, we bought a small herd of Jerseys at Bu erfi eld Jerseys in Pea Ridge (Ark.) during a dispersal sale and so it began again. We opened doors to raw milk sales as soon as we were producing milk. We became a licensed raw milk dairy which allowed us to legally bo le and sell raw milk off the farm as per Oklahoma Department of Agri- culture guidelines.


The years 2007 and 2008 were bad dairy years and we knew we needed to expand, so we made several trips to Vermont, Canada and Maine to learn the art of cheesemaking. We took classes from ar san cheesemakers and affi nage experts. We began produc on of cheese in 2010 and have expanded produc on each year. We have vat-pasteurized milk, bu er, cheeses (so and hard) and skyr. We will soon off er yogurt. By next year, we will include coulommiers (an ancestor to Brie) in our cheese lineup.”


What inspired the name LOMAH? “LOMAH is an acronym for Land of Milk and Honey. Our son, John, had honey bees when we were searching for a name. It is derived from the Biblical reference of a “land overfl owing with milk and honey.” We adopted the acronym based on those two criteria.”


What makes your business unique? “We are a farmstead creamery, meaning we have the cows and process our milk on our farm. We know what the cows ate this morning. We are aware of every aspect from the baby calves to the geriatric cows. We manage them me culously and the same with the milk. We know the quality and characteris cs of the milk and


with that can transform it into a high quality consumer product. How many people know what the cow ate yesterday that provided you with your glass of milk this morning? We know our cows, we know their names, we know when they aren’t feeling well, and we know when they are feeling sassy or grouchy.”


Tell us about your products. “Our product line is always expanding, it seems. From raw milk to vat-pasteurized whole milk and nonfat milk, bu er, wonderful skyr, so and hard cheeses. This winter we will include yogurt (real yogurt-milk and cultures, no stabilizers or gums) and coulommiers cheese. We laughingly say the next genera on will be shopping online for frozen products and I am thinking frozen skyr might be incredible so we might start  nkering with that idea in the kitchen. You see, this is how it happens. A thought becomes an act that gets prac ced and then labeled and then it shows up at the farmer’s market for customer review and input.”


Does your product have any unique fl avor a ributes? “The uniqueness of farmstead products are that as the seasons change and the cow’s diet changes from perennial grasses to hay cut from those fi elds, so the fl avor changes. This is known as ter- roir—the unique fl avor derived from the numerous species of plants Con nued on page 8


“. . .She du fully rises early each morning to care for those babies. She has named them all based on their various characteris cs and she starts gentling them as newborns . . . She has become the sole caregiver of the calves, we have not lost one to illness, which is a testament to the careful, loving a en on she provides them.”


November 2014 - 5


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