Small Herd Delivers Delicious
at Huckins Farm
By Tom Long / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor
Huckins Farm is one of the state’s premier purveyors of raw milk, prized by aficionados for its health benefits. Raw milk contains higher levels of probiotics and enzymes, which are lost when milk is pasteurized.
“It has a lot of health benefits. In short, it’s easy on your gut,” farm manager Matty Huckins said recently after she had finished drawing milk from her herd of Guernsey cows at the micro dairy.
She said the farm vigorously observes a stringent set of sanitation standards and is required to submit samples of its products to the state every month, as well as submit to periodic inspections. In addition to all the precautions, each bottle displays this warning: “Raw milk is not pasteurized. Pasteurization destroys organisms that may be harmful to human health.”
The farm is located on more than 100 acres of rolling countryside in New Hampton. It has been a farm since 1784 and has been owned and operated by the Huckins family for more than 100 years. The dozen coddled cows are pasture-fed and spend the winter in a roomy stall-free barn with plenty of opportunity to get fresh air in the barnyard.
Matty oversees the dairy, which is operated by several members of the extended Huckins family, including her adult children.
“It’s very much a family operation,” she said. “The goal is to milk six cows each day.”
The family manages the operation with the help of a computer spreadsheet. The cows all have whimsical names – Snickers, Snapple, Peanut Brittle, Kit Kat and Apple Crisp are members of the herd.
“It’s always fun to name the cows,” Matty said.
As she spoke, Kit Kat, who was thought to be pregnant with twins, was pastured alone and stood at the edge of a field making moon eyes at visitors.
The milk house and kitchen parlor are attached. In front of the entrance there is a heap of oversized white Igloo coolers used to deliver product to farmers’ markets, the Concord Food Co-op and other stores. Inside there is a refrigerator containing milk and other products for sale. The stand is operated on a self-serve honor system.
In addition to raw milk, the Huckins make three varieties of yogurt: plain, maple and vanilla. Vanilla is the most popular.
“We originally made it by mistake,” said Matty. “The yogurt recipe called for .9 teaspoons of vanilla, but I thought it was 9 teaspoons. The result was so good it became a best seller.”
The farm has a 60-gallon pasteurizer that it uses to make cheeses.
“I was thinking of making cheddar cheese,” Matty said. “But I went to an event sponsored by the University of New Hampshire, and when an expert heard my plan, he said, ‘Why would you do that? Cabot makes cheddar cheese and they do it very well.’”
Matty decided to explore other opportunities including ricotta; Yo-Cheese spreads made from pasteurized milk and live culture with added flavors like fresh herbs; a soft spreadable cheese they call Simplicity; and Giuntini, an Italian dessert cheese that is their most popular.
Bill Chase of Bristol is a regular customer. He said he worked on a diary when he was a young man and developed a taste for raw milk.
When asked why he makes regular trips to the Huckins Farm and the sign of the dancing cow, he said simply, “It keeps you young.”