Despite winning his Jersey cow, Georgie, with a $5 raffle ticket, Ted Sartell refers to her as “the most expensive cow you’ve ever seen.”
Sartell Farm in Temple is mostly known for its sheep, so when Sartell won Georgie at a fair in New York, he thought that he might raise her up and then sell her off.
“But then I decided, no, I want to milk the cow,” said Sartell.
Sartell Farm has a small farm store for a base of regular customers, who buy wool products and lamb meat, and Sartell liked the idea of being able to sell raw milk as well. But if he was going to do something, said Sartell, he was going to do it right. That meant getting certified as a milk producer by the state – despite the fact that he only gets his milk from a single cow and producing between four and five gallons a day.
Sartell’s barn isn’t set up to be a milking location – this time of year, it’s full of mother ewes and their lambs. And to convert part of his barn into a dairy would have been prohibitively expensive, said Sartell, so he started to look around for other options. He hit upon a farmer in the Catskills who had converted a shipping container into a dairy for the purpose of milking his goats. It probably wouldn’t work for a bigger operation, but with only one cow currently producing milk, and knowing he probably wouldn’t grow much beyond milking Georgie and her daughter Peaches, due to the constraints of his land, Sartell though that an eight foot by 20 foot space was just about perfect for his needs related to what he terms “very small, very local” agriculture.
He bought a shipping container from New Jersey, and spent last summer outfitting it with two milking stalls, a wastewater system and a water tank that gets hot enough to disinfect the milking equipment. It’s been a pretty big expense, particularly considering that as a seller of raw milk, Sartell is not required to be licensed as a milk producer.
“I wanted it anyway,” said Sartell. “I wanted my milk to be high quality. I wouldn’t sell my milk to anyone if I wouldn’t drink it myself.”
And the more he looked into the requirements for licensing, he said, everything required made sense to him from a safety and cleanliness standpoint.
“I said, there’s not a thing New Hampshire is making me do that I shouldn’t be doing anyways,” said Sartell.
The shipping container allows for washable surfaces on both the walls and floor, and if Sartell ever decides to get out of the milking business, it’s set up so that the entire container, equipment and all, could be lifted onto the back of a truck and sold wholesale.
“If you don’t already have a ready facility, and you’re a very small operation, I think it’s the way to go,” said Sartell.
If you are interested in purchasing milk or sheep and lamb products from Sartell, or taking a tour of the farm, contact the Sartell Farm at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 878-3058.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or email@example.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.