This past July, my wife Margaret and I embarked on a multi-day cycling trip through the rolling hills of Western Vermont. One day, as we headed north on James Road near Weybridge, we had some of the best views of our three-day tour. This particular ridge boasted breathtaking views of the High Peaks Adirondack range in New York to our left, and the Green Mountain range of Vermont to our right—at the same time. Having been out in the hills for a couple of hours in the 90 degree sun, it seemed like a good place to stop, when we happened upon the intersection of James Road and Weybridge Road. It wasn’t so much the Norman Rockwell nature of this little intersection that captured us, nor the nice park we found that drew us to explore a bit more, it was Monument Farms Dairy.
There, on the left, was a small red building sporting a green metal roof and white trim, with a tiny sign that said “Monument Farms Dairy.” A real dairy, and we are in Vermont! “Let’s stop, they might have ice cream,” I shouted. The clickety-clack of our cycling cleats on the blonde tile floor announced our arrival in the small office / storefront as I closed the door behind us. Peering deeply into the cooler, our search for ice cream changed quickly when a voice came seemingly from nowhere, “you know, Monument Farms has the best chocolate milk you’ll ever have.” The voice was that of Cliff Carpenter, Monument’s Projects Coordinator, greeting us from his office which flanks the storefront. Cliff was certain to add that their milk is all natural, bST free (bovine somatotropin, a growth hormone), the chocolate uses only real sugar and “was still in the cow yesterday.” “That’s a pretty tall order,” I responded. But now, being curious, I bellied up to the counter with my crisp one dollar bill to pay the 80¢ for a pint of the good stuff. Myrna, the clerk, returned my 20¢ change with a smile as I took my first sip. Cliff wasn’t kidding, and soon enough I had another dollar on the counter for another pint. How could this be so good?
Monument Farms Dairy is one of the last producer/processor (farm/dairy) operations left in Vermont. Most dairy farms sell their milk in bulk to a dairy operation that mixes it all up with other farms’ milk, and does the processing/bottling. Monument processes and bottles milk from their own herd, on their own farm.
According to their President, Jonathan Rooney, they will process 7,000–8,000 gallons per day, four days per week. Employing 37 people, they produce, process,bottle, and deliver the milk in their own trucks. Monument has around 1,150 animals, with 500 cows milking at any one time. Some of the cows are “replacements,” not yet in production, or are currently “dry.” You see, the life of a dairy cow gets you 305 days on and 60 days off for rest.
After making small talk with Cliff and Myrna, Margaret and I headed back into the heat of the day to push further north to Vergennes, where lunch at Three Squares Cafe awaited us. As we were getting ready to pedal off, Cliff bounded out the door with a “good, you're still here” kind of comment. He was carrying two more pints of the good stuff, on the house, for us to take on our journey.
It’s the small, kind, and thoughtful things that make a difference today in work, play, family, business—in life. These are the kind of things they understand at Monument Farms Dairy. So if you’re ever in Weybridge, Vermont, make sure to stop by Monument Farms Dairy and have a pint or two of the good stuff. You might even end up with one to-go, on the house.