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Twin Pines Dairy kicks off local sales

Fresh drinkable yogurt bottled last Sunday sits ready for personal delivery in the fridge of Twin Pines Dairy in Decatur Township Monday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

DECATUR TWP.–As newborn calves called to their mothers and barn kittens laid about in the straw, the first bottles of old-school milk at Twin Pines Dairy were officially for sale Monday morning.

“The last four days have netted three 18-hour days and one 17-hour, but we just did what we had to do to get everything bottled for our first orders this week,” said Dave Florence, owner of the Washington County dairy farm. “And I was already taking more orders today after wrapping up milking this morning.”

Florence has taken just under a year to convert his farm back to old-school, on-site low-heat pasteurization after watching plummeting milk prices close small farms across the country.

“It’s been hard, watching so many close their doors and sell off their cows,” said Florence as he walked through the sterile processing room and between shining tanks. “Last week, we had our last truck pick up to take the milk to Broughton; it’s been the same family picking up our milk since Florence Dairy stopped bottling our own 51 years ago.”

But the first sales of whole, 2 percent and flavored milks and drinkable yogurts Monday were accompanied by exclamations and smiles in the small farm store just off Ohio 555.

Randy Roton, left, makes the first official sale of Twin Pines Dairy milk to John Lemon, 27, of Parkersburg, at the Decatur Township farm. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“I know we’ll be buying all of our milk here,” said Deb Alloway, of Decatur Township, as she stopped in with her husband, Tom. “And I want to get yogurt for the kids, too. They’re excited to try the flavors.”

John Lemon, 27, of Parkersburg, was officially the first purchasing customer to grab two gallons out of the farm’s store and peek in the windows showing where the milk is pumped directly from the cow’s milking stall to the processing and bottling room.

“That cookies-and-cream flavor is hands-down the best,” he smiled, handing over cash at the store.

The processing and bottling are intentionally visible to whoever visits the farm–appealing to those who want to see where their milk comes from.

“I have to keep it sealed off from the public; they can’t walk back here because of sanitation, but I want them to see everything, ask questions and know how careful and regulated we are to test and record all the steps and processes to keep this milk safe,” said Florence. “And just like all milk sold across the country, we’re required to test for antibiotics and have a control negative and positive as well for each batch.”

Dave Florence comforts a day-old calf in his barn as sales kick-off for low-heat pasteurized milk at the Decatur Township farm in Washington County. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

So with 50 heads of dairy cows, and all family hands on deck, the first deliveries went out to local stores and one restaurant all anxiously waiting to taste-test.

“Holy cow,” exclaimed Larry Sloter, Busy Bee Restaurant owner in Marietta, as he took a sip first of the mocha-flavored milk and then the strawberry yogurt. “The staff and I both loved them. (Now I’m) going home to the family for some real decision-makers.”

Sloter said part of the appeal of working with Florence is seeing the milk delivery truck drive up with the bottles Monday, and further supporting his mission of locally sourced products in the breakfast and lunch staple.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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Dave Florence loads strawberry milk into his milk truck for delivery at local markets and restaurants at the Twin Pines Dairy Farm. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Twin Pines Dairy Farm and Store

* Address: 77 West Branch Road, Little Hocking.

* Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

* Current locations for purchase: Palmer Square Market, Huck’s Farm Market, James Country Store, Mother Earth Foods, Busy Bee Restaurant, Webber’s Market, Ward’s Farm Market.

* Price range: $1.50-$5

Dave Florence sets up his bottling station inside the sanitized processing area of Twin Pines Dairy Farm. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Retail includes:

* Milk: Whole, 2 percent, chocolate, strawberry, mocha, and cookies-and-cream.

* Drinkable yogurt: Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and vanilla.

Source: Dave Florence

Dave Florence sets up his bottling station inside the sanitized processing area of Twin Pines Dairy Farm. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)