Barstow’s Longview Farm
The Longview Farm has been in the Barstow family since 1806, and from the looks of things, it should be around for many generations to come. Steven and his brother David are partners with Steven II poised to take over. And on a farm of some 400 acres and 475 cattle, there’s plenty to do. In fact, says Steven: “You never really get done. You just check a few things off the list, and they get replaced right away by the next things in line.”
“Dairy farming is a business you have to take in stride,” says Steven. “Some days you work 12 hours, and others you have to put in a little overtime. You just take it as it comes.” Up at 4:00 am to prepare for the 5:00 am milking, and then a hundred farm chores until evening milking at 5:00 pm. Done around 9:00 pm. It’s never easy, but what a life it is. Says Steven: “You’re your own boss, you work for yourself, and you get to look at the farm and the cattle and you know you’ve accomplished something. That makes it all worthwhile.”
And with the fluctuations of dairy farming, the Barstows opened a retail stand on their farm in 2008. They sell local milk, local produce, baked goods, various other products, and, of course, Cabot cheese. Each month things are getting a little better with the stand, and they hope it will help even things out during downturns in the industry.
The Barstows are also welcoming hosts. Their farm is open to all comers, and students from the veterinary department at the University of Massachusetts are frequent visitors. They also show their spread to students at the local agricultural high school and to passers-by and customers of the farm stand that just want to take a look. “The point is,” says Steven, “you help the local community and they help you. It’s all part of being a good neighbor.”
This year, the Barstow’s have started producing power. But not just any kind of power – cow power. Harnessing methane gas from cow manure and food waste from local companies, the anaerobic digester on Longview Farm creates enough electricity for 250 local homes and the farm. The system also creates excess heat which is harnessed to heat the farm house, the barn floors, and soon, Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery. The other obvious output is all of the waste left after the process. This organic material is nutrient rich and is spread on the Barstow’s fields, increasing crop yields and soil health. This incredible system is a sustainable closed loop and a model for future facilities to come.
Cabot is one of the local partners Longview Farm works with, sending whey buttermilk from the West Springfield plant for the digester to help produce power. Cabot then purchases this electricity to power their butter making process. Essentially, the cows in our cooperative provide cream AND electricity for the butter we churn!
We asked Denise Barstow our famous Farmer Friday questions and she was gracious enough to comply. She even gave us an amazing Barstow family recipe. Thanks, Denise! And if you are interested in meeting the Barstow Family, stop by the CBS3 Tent at the Big E on September 26th. They’ll even have some samples of Cabot Cheese!
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
I think the best part about being a dairy farm family is that we aren’t just a family we’re a team. House after house in our small rural neighborhood is a Barstow home and you can always count on your cousins to be around to babysit, your uncle teaching you how to drive, your grandma to help you whip up some delicious cookies, and when the cows get out its all hands on deck. It has really taken the whole village to raise us farm kids and we could not be more thankful for the valuable lessons we have learned about working with animals, working with the Earth, and working with each other. The farm is our common bond that makes our family relationship just that much stronger. Our community runs seven Barstow generations deep and that’s something you can’t find just anywhere.
What is your family’s favorite meal? Care to share a recipe?
We don’t mean to brag but Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery makes the meanest chili around! Shannon Barstow, head baker and farmer’s daughter, is the brains behind this recipe and with our storefront the Barstow’s aren’t the only ones that get to enjoy this amazing meal! The recipe below makes enough to feed our customer’s demand each day at the store.
Barstow’s Dairy Store & Bakery’s Famous Chili
(10) pounds of Barstow’s Absolutely Delicious ground beef, browned and fat drained
(2) #10 cans of B&M baked beans
(2) #10 cans of crushed tomatoes
(2) 1lb. cans of B&M red kidney beans
Chipotle Chili powder
*Cayenne pepper – use sparingly*
Top of each serving with a handful of shredded Cabot Cheddar cheese!
What is your least favorite farm chore?
Tossing tires on the bunker silos after a cutting! You never know what you are going to find in those rainwater filled mosquito traps…but I found a snake once and that is certainly not a happy memory.
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Early in May after going around the perimeters of the farm and making fence repairs, we have an event at Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery called Pasture Day. This is the day that we let all of the dry cows and pregnant heifers out of the barns and into the field. Bucking wildly and enjoying the spring sunshine they will run out of the barn literally skipping! It brings a smile to my face every time to see the unabashed joy they have for the green pasture after a long winter. We invite the public to this event as well so check out our website as the event gets closer to find the exact date!
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is commercials or talk show hosts that make farmers out to be stupid! Farmers are dealing with elements and processes that many people in this day and age hardly experience in their lives anymore. There is a certain kind of knowledge and endurance that it takes to work with animals every day, to understand how to work with the earth and the weather, and what it is like to be up and in the barn at 4:00am every day including Christmas morning. We open up our farm frequently to visitors and tour groups and we want to invite you to see our happy farmers and more importantly our happy cows!
Click here to visit the Barstow’s Longview Farm website