Beef farm changes their participation in internationally famous STROLLING OF THE HEIFERS cow parade--to hosting a supper with their pasture-raised beef
Online PR News – 07-June-2013 – Brattleboro, VT – For the first ten years of the Strolling of the Heifers in Brattleboro, Vermont, the Robb Family Farm led off the actual cow portion of the parade. Many years they prepared eight to ten “bovine beauties” to stately march the route from Flat Street uphill to the water-tank-filled finish line at the commons.
This year, they won’t “stroll”.
Instead, they will host “Farm Fest” on their farm on Saturday night of the Heifer Stroll weekend.
“Beef cattle don’t really ‘stroll’,” joked Charlie Robb, Sr. “That’s more a dairy cow.”
Moving into the beef business was not an easy decision. “We were in the dairy business for five generations, you know,” pointed out Robb Sr. “My great grandfather started farming came here in 1907. I’ve been at it for all my life. My son’s been doing it for all his life. It’s who we are.”
But the economics of dairying just weren’t there for the family. Like many dairy farmers across the country, the Robbs struggled with growing, potentially bringing on more cows–even as the dairy prices broke record lows in 2009 and 2010.
“Margins are slim when you sell a commodity like milk, and when you don’t control the price,” noted Charlie Robb, Sr. “And the inputs don’t change much.”
Robb Jr. smiled as he walks through the former-dairy-now-beef pasture quietly, watching his herd of Simmental crosses move around him, and showing off specific ones.
“See that one over there? That’s Grumpy. She just always has that sort of face, so we gave her that name–it suits her.
“And that one over there,” he said as he gestured towards a weeks-old calf, “that one was born just two weeks ago.”
Robbs explained that the beef business is different for them after so many years in dairying. But there are similarities that they have enjoyed, too. “I’ve always liked cows,” said Robb, Jr. “Cows kind of get into your blood.
“I do have to admit that I don’t miss the constant milking,” he said with a smile. “The beef are easier on the labor requirements of a farm, that’s for sure.”
Robb Jr noted that their family is pleased with the herd they purchased from a fellow New Englander. “The cows have been very calm, and the bull has never bothered any of us.”
They also find that their neighbors and local community is receptive to their meat.
“We sell right from the farm shop, right here on the farm,” said Helen Robb, the wife of Charlie, Sr. Balancing supply and demand has had its share of learning, too–but not in a bad way. “It’s all been a part of the process over the last two years.”
The Robb Family Farm burger is also a consistent seller at the New England House restaurant on Route 9 in Brattleboro, Helen pointed out. “We love that local food is being feature there.”
This Saturday night’s Farm Fest is a celebration of the Robb Family’s new venture. “We wanted to host this event to showcase our meat,” Helen said. “So the menu features our hamburgers.”
The rest of the evening’s meal also draws from Vermont and stays true to the localvore theme: mac & cheese made with real Vermont cheddar cheese; fresh-picked salad greens from neighboring Lilac Ridge Farm; Robb Family Farm maple syrup on the homemade ice cream for dessert.
“We’ll also have live music from our neighbor, too: Michelle Leichti on her violin,” said Helen. “So everything has a very local flavor for this night.”
Farm Fest is being planned in conjunction with Vermont Fascination, a new business venture which coincidentally has its office right on Ames Hill Road, too.
“Farm Fest is exactly the type of event that Vermont Fascination wants to work with,” said Jill Stahl Tyler, president of Vermont Fascination. “We focus on local events and ag tourism, connecting people with agriculture in a real way.”
Tickets are available for Farm Fest at Vermont Fascination’s website, www.vermontfascination.com, or by calling 254-2879. Prices are $12 for children 12 and under; $15 for adults; $50 maximum per family.