Sheldon Creek Dairy is worth going out of your way for! I discovered it by happy accident but since visiting, I’ve made it my mission to spread the
word. The denHaan family have been dairy farmers since 1956, but they only started processing and selling their own milk and yogurt in early 2013. (Before that, like all other dairy farms in Ontario, they sold their raw mild to the dairy board.) The shop where they sell their milk and yogurt is small, but the walls are lined with family photos that tell the history of the denHaan family. Marianne denHann was on hand the day we visited and she let me record a video of her telling a bit about the history of the farm and the family.
There were no tours scheduled the day we stopped in, but Marianne graciously showed us around. She introduced us to the girls (the cows) and
walked us through the barn and told us about the operation. It was an informal tour that was fascinating. As it happened, we were exceptionally fortunate because the day we were there one of the cows had given birth and Marianne showed us the mother and son, who managed to take his first cautious step while we were watching! Talk about a thrill. Luckily we had a camera and luckily the new mom didn’t mind us taking some pictures.
Education is a focus
Marianne described the Dairy. It’s clear that they feel one of their missions is educating people about milk and milk processing. We learned about
pasteurization and homogenization and the fact that Canadian law requires pasteurization but not homogenization. They pasteurize their milk to make it safe to drink but their process is limited to the minimum temperature (73 Celsius) for just 16 seconds. They homogenize their milk, which means the cream molecules are unchanged from their original state. This makes for a very full, tasty milk that even people who are lactose intolerant seem able to enjoy.
In the summer they give tours daily. (There is a small fee.) The rest of the year they do tours by appointment. Tours last about an hour and a quarter
and they start with an introduction to the cows and information about the prize herd’s history (and the farm’s history as well). They take you through the production facility and you learn about their process of pasteurization. At the end you even get to sample their products.