Sanders managing the pasteurization process
A labor of love
By Leigh Anne Butler
Michaela Sanders’ day starts early; 4:30 to be exact. That’s when she milks her fifteen dairy cows at her dairy farm in Kent.
Sanders owns and operates Blue Ribbon Dairy, LLC where she sells her fresh milk, along with other local food items like eggs, pickles, jams, honey and salsa. She opened the dairy a little less than 3 months ago and just this past Sunday sold 63 gallons of milk in two hours.
“I grew up on a dairy farm,” Sanders said. “Blue Ribbon Dairy was Lott Dairy Farm. C.D. Lott was my grandfather. His dad built our milk parlor in the mid-1940s and milked cows here. Then my granddad milked cows here when I was growing up as a little girl.
“When I was in the first grade Mama trusted him enough to keep me during the summer and I was able to learn. Milk is a passion of mine. Dairy cows are a passion of mine. My granddad quit milking cows in 2005.”
One thing, besides the milk, that Blue Ribbon Dairy customers love is that it is a hands-on experience. Right now, the farm has three baby calves that you can feed around 4:30 in the morning. If mornings aren’t your thing, you can also feed them around 4:30 in the afternoon.
Sanders explained, “I have customers who know some of our cows by name. They come out here and look for those cows. They want to see them. They’ll come to the fence and pet them. If you come out here enough the cows will learn you and trust you.”
Sanders had a show cow named Fancy growing up.
A framed photo on display at Blue Ribbon Dairy of Sanders with her prize cow Fancy
“Somehow we became best friends when she was a baby calf. When she was a year old my granddad gave her to me as a Christmas gift. My granddaddy never failed me when it came to good show cows. He always made sure I had a good show string so everywhere I went I was able to get a blue ribbon. Since Fancy gave me all the blue ribbons, I wanted to incorporate her into my business, so that’s how I came up with Blue Ribbon Dairy.”
When she opened in November she started with five cows, Sanders now has 15. Each of the cows average eight to fifteen gallons a milk per day.
“Milk in the grocery stores is about 12 days old. At our dairy, from the cow to the bottle is about 24 hours. That is about as fresh of milk as you are going to get. Our milk also has a three week shelf life.”
Customers often comment that Blue Ribbon Dairy milk tastes better than store bought milk.
“One reason it tastes better is it is cream line milk, which means it has not been homogenized so the cream still rises to the top; therefore, it is full fat milk. Whole milk in the grocery store is 3.25% butter fat. Ours is a whole percent more at 4.25%.
“Dairy farming is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job. We are always down here tending to the cows. Once a dairy farmer, always a dairy farmer. There’s just nothing like it.”
Blue Ribbon Dairy is located just past the four way stop in Kent at 5290 Chana Creek Road. The dairy is open Monday through Friday from 2:00 until 6:00, Saturdays from 9:00 until 4:00 and 2:00 until 4:00 on Sundays. A ribbon cutting is planned for Friday, March 16.