For Heather and Doug Donahue, it all started with a couple chickens, followed by a pig, then a cow.
Eighteen years later, their hobby farm has grown to be a full-time family farming endeavor, replacing contract building and teaching careers. The small MOFGA-certified organic dairy farm of 12 cows sits a top the rolling pastures in Pittsfield, Maine. As one of Maine's rare farmstead creameries, it supplies all the milk for the products it produces: yogurts, raw milk aged cheeses, fresh cheeses and other cultured products.
The herd at Balfour Farm is comprised of Normande and Normande crosses. Normande cattle are a dual purpose breed and can be used for both milk and beef production. The cattle are colorful, with the colored patches on the ears, nose and eyes being the most distinguishing marks of the Normande breed. The varied coat colors are brown and/or black on white and sometimes brown and black brindled.
The best part of pasture raising Normande cattle is that the milk is rich in butterfat and proteins, giving a higher than usual yield for cheesemaking. Customers often remark on the golden color of Balfour Farm products, which is due to the fact that the cows are fed a primarily grass-based diet, including seasonal rotational grazing, dry hay and baleage - with a little treat of organic grain at milking time, which is once per day in the morning.
Cheese making creates a lot of whey. The farm utilizes the whey from cheesemaking to supplement the feed for a herd of pigs. The pigs are rotated through woodland areas to help clear brush and undergrowth to prepare new grazing areas for the cows. Laying hens provide fresh eggs for market customers.