Got milk? Local dairy owners hope to grow their operation
by Laura Haley
contributing writer
Sep 13, 2012 | 896 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
37 McClish Dairy
Molly McClish feeds a young cow at her family’s dairy operation in Spanish Valley earlier this year. Photos by Laura Haley
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Every morning, Molly McClish wakes up early to feed the animals. The five milk cows have to be rounded up and moved up to the barn for milking.

The milking starts at 8 a.m. and takes about an hour and a half. Once the cows are milked, McClish has to move the heifers back to their pens, feed the young calf, and get started on pasteurizing the milk that she just collected. Afterwards, she has about two hours of downtime before it’s time to start working on the evening milking.

“That’s the time that I have to spend time with the kids, fix things that are broken, or go to the store,” she said.

Life running a dairy can be hard work, but McClish, who has been running the McClish dairy for just over a year, said it’s the first time she’s really enjoyed her job.

“This is my favorite part – the milking,” she said. “I love spending time with the cows. They’re like our family.”

She and her husband, Ty, first got the idea to try running a dairy when Ray Alger, a friend of theirs, bought a cow. Alger’s family had survived the Great Depression because they raised chickens. With the uncertainty of the economy, Alger decided to buy a dairy cow to help provide for the family in the event that the recession turned into something more serious. Because McClish’s husband had previous experience with milking cows and the Algers asked him to teach them how.

Eventually, the McClishes decided to buy a cow of their own – just to provide milk for the family.

“That’s when we started playing with the numbers to see if this would be viable on a small scale,” Molly McClish explained.

They were able to secure a low-interest loan, which they used to purchase additional cows as well as equipment for pasteurizing the milk.

The dairy has five heifers producing milk at this time and several others just about ready to come into production. The five cows produce about 25 gallons a day, McClish said.

“We’re trying to get by with as few cows as possible,” she said.

While the revenue the dairy brings in doesn’t quite cover its expenses yet, McClish said the fact that it is almost paying for itself after only a year is good news.

The couple is hoping that by next year the dairy will be bringing in enough money that Ty can quit his woodworking business and focus his energies at the dairy full time.

“The community has been so supportive,” she said.

Milt’s Stop and Eat, Dave’s Corner Market, and Moonflower Market were the first businesses willing to carry the McClish Dairy’s products.

“Moonflower has been willing to try anything I make,” McLish said.

In addition to providing whole milk, the dairy has also made both hard and soft cheeses and yogurt, she said.

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