Have you heard of Happy Cow Creamery? They hold a special place in our hearts here in Greenville. This popular farm draws a constant stream of visitors all year round, and it’s the farm we’re visiting today.
With delicious ice cream, a great picnic pavilion, a store stocked full of natural foods, cows to see, and cute outdoor seating in front of the shop, everyone loves this destination. Where else can you find a field trip and a grocery store all in one?
I come here all the time, but I’ve never come in search of information. Only ice cream, milk, and other goodies! I luck out and meet Tom Trantham III, one of the owners and the founder’s son, who gives me the lowdown on what makes this milk remarkable (remilkable? Sorrynotsorry.)
You know the milk tastes amazing. But wait! There’s fascinating cow science at work you might not know about.
Happy Cow’s milk tastes better and fresher than typical grocery store milk. But it’s the way they treat it that gives you hidden benefits, Trantham tells me. Their milk is non homogenized. Simply put, the cream rises to the top, and you shake it when you want to pour. Why is this good? When milk producers homogenize milk, they break the fat cells up into smaller pieces. While the smaller fat pieces suspend better in milk (read: no shaking required), they don’t interact as well with your body. Trantham says homogenization can make the fats indigestible, and leads to unnecessary cholesterol problems and dairy sensitivities.
Happy Cow Creamery milk undergoes only low temperature pasteurization. This process protects the natural enzymes in the milk. Happy Cow shares several stories of how their milk has helped people overcome sensitivities and health concerns. Who knew milk could change your life?
I’m surprised to discover that while the creamery that bottles milk wear the name Happy Cow, the milk cow operation goes by the name 12 Aprils Dairy. 12 Aprils’ unusual standards for their cow’s quality of life provide the great-tasting milk Happy Cow depends on. Buckle up: We’re gonna get a little science-y.
The name “12 Aprils” comes from a great oops. Founder Tom Trantham accidentally discovered of a method of sustainable grazing. When his cows escaped their feeding area to graze on delicious April grass (apparently actually greener), he observed a two-pound average increase in milk production from each cow the next day. That’s 32 glorious ounces more from each cow!
Ever since that bonus quart day, 12 Aprils Dairy aims to ensure that their cows graze on April-like greenery year-round. Two tactics make the magic happen. First, an ingenious system of rotating planting and grazing keep 12 Aprils cows grazing on delicious crops grown specifically for their health and milk production year round. But second, their pastures haven’t been treated with chemicals or pesticides for over 20 years. None of the nasties make it into your Happy Cow milk because no 12 Aprils cow ever has to eat them.
These grass-fed, unconfined cows are truly Happy Cows. And their milk proves it! In testing, Clemson University found Happy Cow Creamery milk from 12 Aprils Dairy cows to be four times higher in CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid, a cancer-fighting agent), to have more balanced levels of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, and to contain higher levels of beta carotene and vitamins A and D. That’s basically a wishlist of healthy dairy goodness.
All Happy Cow milk is whole milk. Wait! Isn’t skim milk healthier? Uh nope, skim milk is basically sugar water. In making skim milk, manufacturers skim out nutrients, vitamins, and good fats. They manage to make their skim milk nutritionally pointless, yet still harmful because of its high sugar content. If you need an alternative to whole milk, please please please don’t make it skim or reduced fat milk!
Back to the farm. You can make like us and visit Happy Cow Creamery year round. Unlike many other farms which have a specific growing season, Happy Cow is always open. Take a trip to the delightful Pelzer, SC and get your dairy whenever you need it!
The cheese, ice cream, and butter you find in their shop come from Wisconsin from like-minded farmers, since Happy Cow only produces milk. I love that my local dairy farmer vets other dairy producers for me. Your taste buds will appreciate the quality and totally freak out (mine did.)
You already love Happy Cow for their delicious milk. And now you know why their milk can help your health! Go enjoy this rare South Carolina dairy farm any time of the year.
My Farm Visit Recap
- Happy Cow Creamery is located in Pelzer, SC
- Get some ice cream to share outside with kids or ice cream lovers of any age
- Visit on a nice day and bring a picnic
- The pregnant cows are always in the front enclosure by the store, but if you’re lucky you may glimpse the milking herd when they’re grazing one of the near pastures
- Try the amazing Wisconsin aged cheddar
- Incorporate Happy Cow milk into your diet for better health
- Happy Cow has started scheduling tours again!
Have you ever been to Happy Cow? What’s important to you, when it comes to milk? Let me know in the comments!
– Jeannie Hall