FarmLove: Fort Hill Farms – Eggnog and Customer Appreciation

Sometimes when she’s at the grocery store, Kies Orr just can’t help herself from approaching strangers to say thank you.

“It’s such a good feeling when I see one of our products in someone’s cart,” she says. “I’ll walk up and thank them for supporting local farmers.” 

Kies Orr

Kies grew up on her family’s Fort Hill Farms in the quiet northeastern Connecticut town of Thompson. The Orrs belong to the co-op behind the Cabot brand and are also part of a small group of farmers—several of whom are fellow co-op members—who process and market their own line of dairy products under The Farmer’s Cow brand.
Fort Hill Farms has been named “Best of New England” by Yankee magazine. In the summer, the farm smells of lavender; in the fall, pumpkins take the stage. Winter is eggnog time! Click To Tweet
“It really melts my heart when I see people choosing Cabot or Farmer’s Cow, and they seem to appreciate when I say something,” Kies says. “Very often they’re surprised. I think that connection means a lot to them.”  

Lily Orr

Kies came back to work full-time on the family farm with her mother, Kristin, and father, Peter, after earning a degree in agriculture at SUNY Cobleskill. Her sister, Lily, studied environmental science at University of Connecticut and now works for the Connecticut Farmland Trust. Sadly, Peter passed away earlier this year and the family is more committed than ever to keeping the farm vibrant and vital in his memory.  

Orr Family: Lily, Kies, Peter, Kristin

It was 1942 when Kristin’s grandparents purchased their first 92 acres and began milking cows, somewhat by accident when they received a cow in place of cash payment. Much of the land that they own today has been in continuous agricultural production for more than 300 years. Impressive stone walls dating back to the late 1800s border the property.  

By the time she was 12 years old, Kristin knew she was going to be a farmer. “My father used to wake me up each morning at quarter to four to milk the cows,” she recalls. “He would tell me that if I didn’t get up and milk the cows, the kids in the city wouldn’t have any milk to drink.” 

Kristin Orr

The Orrs have kept Fort Hill going with a wide range of activities including Kristin’s beloved lavender business and gardens, a corn maze, an annual fall pumpkin festival and a small store with a scoop shop offering The Farmer’s Cow ice cream. The farm has been named “Best in New England” by Yankee Magazine, among other national media accolades.  

On the diversified farm, there are many balls to juggle. In partnership with her boyfriend Jared LaVack, Kies works closely with her mother to keep them all in the air. “She’s the farmgirl. She’s something else,” says Kristin. “It’s saving 1,200 acres of farmland. It’s our passion.” 

From the peak of Fort Hill, three states are visible. “When people drive in and come over the hill, they sometimes stop short, it’s so beautiful,” says Kristin. Recent visitors have come from as far away as Serbia and all seem to appreciate the peaceful, pastoral beauty.  

“People always ask about the next generation,” Kies reflects, “and I say, ‘Yes, there’s a next generation and you’re looking at it.’”  

Kies Orr

A rich taste of holiday cheer 

The Farmer’s Cow offers seasonal eggnog that’s so good, Kristin Orr says, “You could just pick it up and drink it all down.” At Fort Hill’s store, along with a full line of dairy and Cabot cheese, the Orrs scoop Farmer’s Cow ice cream, including eggnog ice cream during the winter.  

Kristin also deploys the ice cream in what she proudly calls “eggstraordinary eggnog ice cream pies.” They boast a classic graham cracker crust and are crowned to order with freshly whipped Farmer’s Cow heavy cream 

The Farmer’s Cow also suggests using their eggnog for an indulgent baked French toast.

We’re thinking maybe Santa might enjoy a warm wedge of that drizzled with maple syrup as a break from all those cookies. 

Learn more about Cabot Farm Family Owners here.

Comments (7)

Judy Bradley | December 19, 2018 | 3:25pm

Love my Cabot cheese. Very Merry Christmas To All!

Beth Kennett | December 19, 2018 | 4:11pm

Fantastic story fabulous family thank you for all you have done to contribute

Jeannette & Ray Myer | December 19, 2018 | 4:48pm

to Cabot & the Orr family, WOW what a great story. Except for the passing of Peter. Very sorry to hear for sure!! God Bless you all!! Keep the tradition Going!! We both love your Story!! I hope Millions of others enjoy it as much as we both did. Cheers and Hats of to you. WOW the Ladies are doing it all. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too!! Jeannette And Ray Myer over in MA.

Jeannette & Ray Myer | December 19, 2018 | 4:50pm

KIES love the Shirt GET LOST too. LOL!!!! Your a trooper!

Elvia Chamberlain | December 19, 2018 | 5:22pm

Went to visit to visit your cheese factory many years ago. We took home lots, and lots of cheese.One of my favorites was Sage you no longer make. Since then I have moved to Va and still only buy Cabot Cheese.Thank you for awesome cheese.

Barbara Letvin | December 19, 2018 | 7:36pm

I started buying Cabot Cheese after I met two women from your co-op who had a booth at the national AARP convention. It was either New Orleans where they offered samples and coupons. The two were so friendly and welcoming and we chatted briefly and I started to subscribe to your email with recipes Now my husband is on a low carb diet to avoid diabetes and the doctor likes him to have lots of protein and cheese was on the approved list so we always have Cabot cheese in the frig. I particularly like the extra sharp cheddar. Fat is no longer our enemy and Cabot cheese is our friend. I’m going to try the cheddar and cauliflower nibbles for a light Christmas Eve hors d’oeuvres. We’re using cauliflower all the time as a substitute for pasta.
Here’s a tasty recipe the dietician gave my husband and I’ve made it 2x. Quick, easy, delicious.
Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder (serves 8)
8 slices center cut bacon, chipped and divided
1/2 small onion chopped or 1 teaspoon onion powder
1 celery stalk chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
salt and pepper
4 cups shredded or grated cauliflower (1/2 head)
2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. flour (I used almond flour as it’s recommended for diabetics)
2 cups chicken broth divided
2 cups 2% milk
3-4 dashes hot sauce or 3 dashes white pepper
2 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese divided
2 green onions chopped (optional)
1. Whisk flour and 1/4 c. chicken broth and set aside
2. Saute bacon in soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate then remove all but 1 tablespoon drippings. Added chopped onion, celery and garlic to pot with salt and pepper and saute until tender. (about 4-5 mins.)
3. Add cauliflower and onion to pot, stir. Add water then place a lid on top and steam cauliflower until tender, stirring a couple of times, about 507 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth and milk then turn up heat to boil.
4. Slowly whisk in flour/chicken broth mixture while stirring. Turn down heat and simmer for 3-4 mins. or until chowder has thickened. Turn off heat then slowly stir in 2 cups cheddar a little at a time until smooth. Stir in cooked bacon. Adjst spices. Serve topped with remaining cheddar, cooked bacon and green onions.
265 calories, 7 grams carbs and 15 grams protein per serving. Using a food processor makes prepping veggies and cheese a breeze. I can make this chowder in 20 mins. A quick hot lunch.
Barbara Letvin

Darlene Gunkel | December 20, 2018 | 6:30am

We love Fort Hill Farm, The Farmers Cow and Cabot!
We also Love Kies

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