Most dairy farmers have their hands full with their cows, but some crave something a little… well, taller. “For the first 13 years, we were your traditional dairy farmers,” explains Susan Keith. She and her husband, Joe, grew up on dairy farms in Massachusetts. But as affordable farm land became more scarce, they moved to New York, leaving Susan’s childhood farm, the same one that produced Elsie the Borden Cow back in the 1930s. About a dozen years after the move, when their daughter, Stacy, was nearing college graduation, the family considered ways to expand the business and came upon the idea of raising elk meat along with the dairy.
Customers at the farm store and the local farmers’ markets responded very positively to the healthy, locally raised meat. “That encouraged us to continue growing our elk business, and got us thinking about how we could continue to expand,” says Susan. Stacy and her husband, Israel, began raising and selling beef on their farm and, a few years later, the family formed Crum Creek CSA, adding pastured hogs, lamb and chicken. “We raise our animals with the strong belief that healthy, well-cared–for animals produce healthy, great–tasting meat,” Stacy says.
Susan and Joe are grateful to live and work side by side with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandkids. “Getting to spend time with my family is the biggest payoff,’ says Susan. “More than anything else, I look forward to our farmers’ market trips: the car packed with my daughter and four grandchildren, talking and laughing and playing games the whole time. It makes all of the hard work worth it.”