As part of our continuing effort to promote local farms and introduce our market vendors, we are pleased to feature Smyth’s Trinity Farm located in Enfield, Connecticut which has been a mainstay of the Ellington Farmers Market for many years. It’s a story of hard work, determination, and entrepreneurship. Enjoy!
Smyth’s Trinity Farm History
The Smyth Family has produced milk and dairy products since great-grandfather Richard Smith began farming in 1912. The original farm was on Hazard Avenue (Route 190) in Enfield, Connecticut. They grew tobacco, raised poultry and housed 46 milking cows. Approached by a local physician in response to a tuberculosis outbreak, Richard was one of the first dairy farmers in the state to begin bottling pasteurized milk. Since 1984, the present farm has been located at the southern tip of the Enfield Historic District on Oliver Road. Purchased in 1984, it includes 20 acres for pasturing and hay, along with the cow barn, hay/equipment storage building and dairy processing plant. Michael and Dale Smyth (Richard’s grandchildren) added the milk processing plant to the farm in 1995 and have passed the operation to their children, Anne Dugas, Peter and Samuel Smyth , who own it today – the fourth generation of Smyths to continue to farm.
Smyth’s Trinity Farm Cow Facts
Apparently, if you are good to your cows, they’ll give you great-tasting milk.
“We never get tired of talking about our cows and how they live,” explained Anne Dugas.
They milk mainly Holstein cows which produce a larger volume of milk compared to other breeds. The barn was built specifically to comfortably house “their large frame.”
- The milking cows are fed a TMR (total mixed ration) The TMR consists of corn meal, grain and hay. The grain is milled locally in Manchester.
- The growing heifers are feed corn silage. Hay is grown all summer on surrounding properties for year-round use.
- The cows are milked twice daily, and rotationally pastured after the PM milking when the heat of the day has passed.
- They “relax” in the pasture all night and are brought to the barn in the morning for milking, where they remain until after the PM milking.
- Each cow has its own water dish operated by pressing a button with her nose to access clean fresh water, and the barns are equipped with large fans to keep the cows cool.
- Did you know that a cow drinks a bathtub full of water each day?
- The heat of the summer is difficult on the cows and affects their milk supply.
- A cow is pregnant for 9 months and doesn’t produce milk for the last two months, called the “dry period.”
- The farm has 55 cows but they milk 30 cows at a time. Those 30 cows each produce about 71 pounds (approximately 9 gallons) of milk per day.
The Processing of Milk
The processing/bottling plant was built on the farm in 1995 after Michael and Dale Smyth decided to try and maximize income on their small, family-sized farm. I had the fortunate opportunity to visit Smyth’s Trinity Farm on one of their two-per-week processing days and learned what is involved in bottling the milk in their clean and efficient bottling plant. The ten hour process includes the following steps:
- All the machinery that comes in contact with the milk is disassembled, washed, sterilized and reassembled.
- Raw milk is drawn from the refrigerated holding tank and goes through a separator, which separates the cream from the milk.
- The skim milk then goes through two different machines which pasteurizes and homogenizes the milk. The milk is cooled, goes into another holding tank from where the milk is drawn into bottles which have just come from the bottle sterilizer.
- The bottles are sealed, labeled with an expiration date, put into milk crates and brought to cold storage.
- To make 1% milk, whole milk is mixed with the skim in specific proportions.
- When processing whole milk, the milk does not travel through the separator.
The whole process seemed effortless to me (which I am sure it is not!) as Sam Smyth efficiently took the full half-gallons of milk off the filling station, labeled them and placed the bottles into the crates. Sam spends about five hours at this station during the bottling procedure.
A Bygone Era-Glass Bottles and Home Delivery
The farm sells whole, 1%, and skim milk, along with half and half and heavy cream, chocolate, coffee and strawberry milk, butter, five flavors of yogurt and kefir (a creamy, fermented milk drink). The two most unique features of the Smyth’s product line – characteristics of a bygone era – are the old-style glass bottles they use, and home delivery.
Anne, who manages the farm’s finances, store and home delivery, explained that glass bottles preserve the taste of the milk and keeps the milk colder than plastic does. The glass bottles are returned to the farm and reused. The farm began home delivery a few years ago as the local farm to table movement gained support in our area. “Our customers kept asking for it.” stated Anne. Delivery towns include Windsor Locks, Enfield, Ellington, Suffield, Somers and Longmeadow, Mass.
Farm responsibilities are divided amongst the three Smyth families; everyone helps in many capacities as challenges in running a small family farm business constantly arise, including herd health, labor management, managing the milk supply and demand in hot weather, maintaining equipment, inspections and anticipating weather fluctuations. This local, family owned farm embodies the spirit of the farm to table movement that is bringing small farms back into the spotlight…
Why Try Smith’s Trinity Farm Products?
We asked Anne Dugas what makes Smyth’s Trinity Farm products special?
“People should buy from us because they can come to our farm and see the cows who make their milk. They can talk to the family of farmers who care for the cows who make their milk. They can ask specific questions directly. You should try our milk because it tastes great.”
You can visit Smyth’s Trinity Farm Dairy Farm Store on Oliver Road in Enfield, CT on Monday through Saturday, 6 am – 6 pm. Their products are also available at specialty food markets throughout the state, and of course, at the Ellington Farmers’ Market this summer from May 10th -Oct. 18th. You can sign up for home delivery on their website. Try their delicious milk, cream, yogurt, kefir, and popular flavored milks – chocolate, coffee and strawberry. You won’t be disappointed. Happy cows make delicious milk!