Goodgrass Farm


Goodgrass Farm

After a scenic drive past numerous farms in Willis, the Postcards team arrived at the Goodgrass Farm Dairy and Creamery, where husband and wife John and Camille Bock produce items like raw milk and cheeses on location with the help of their small staff. The dairy is license inspected in the Montgomery, Walker, San Jacinto, and Grimes County area, making it possible to sell raw milk, cultured butter, cheese from fresh and raw milk, pasture pork in season, and additional items.

The history behind Goodgrass Farm

John Bock came out of retirement and built Goodgrass Farms without a background in dairy; however, he had previously milked cows and raised cows and lambs during the 39 years he has lived in Willis with Camille. The couple has about 100 acres of land that they own and manage. Approximately seventy-five acres is used for young calves, and twenty-five acres is used for pasture. In addition to the dairy farm, they have a joint venture selling pigs, piglets, and pork because Camille states, “You can’t have a dairy without raising pigs.” Across the street from the dairy, they make their own hay as well, which is free of pesticides and herbicides.

The milking process

The milk comes from their eleven cows milked on location. They are raised on pasture and milked once a day, every day. Milking starts at 8:30 AM, changing to 7:30 AM during the summer to adjust for the brutal heat that is a Texas summer. Goodgrass Farm is a seasonal operation that halts from November until January to allow for calving and recovery of the cows. When the farm is in operation, customers can come to the shop Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM where the products are on display.

Each cow on the property has to be trained for milking, because a rambunctious animal is dangerous for everyone. Unfortunately, animals deemed too dangerous get sold. When it comes time for milking, the cows are milked one at a time, once a day, and are given inspections by those milking to make sure the teats aren’t infected. To make sure everything is sanitary, the teats are coated with iodine before and after milking; they do this to make sure no bacteria gets into the milk. If, however, there is something wrong with the milk, the milk gets thrown out.  If a cow isn’t milked regularly, the teats will dry up.

Goodgrass Farm starts milking their cows when they reach two years of age and continues for several years. If they wean a calf and their teats are still good, a cow will continue milking. The environment at the farm is stress-free for the cows and for the workers, especially since their process involves having the cows milked one at a time.

The cows start the day in a holding pen, waiting their turn like they are waiting for a ride at a carnival. When they get up to the milking platform, they snack on some grain feed during the milking, then step down, where another barrel of feed awaits them. After they finish the second grain feeding, they walk through a cow scale into the pasture for the day. If there is a heifer being trained for milking, they do the entire process, except they are not actually milked.

Cows find stepping down from the milking platform more difficult than getting up—Camille calls this “The Step of Death.” This comes from a cow’s weight distribution and bone structure, as their necks are not mobile enough for them to see straight ahead. With the help of the workers, the cows at Goodgrass Farm are able to successfully negotiate the milking platform, but this comes with training them through the repetitive process.

The cheese-making process

Cheese offered at Goodgrass Farm can be fresh cheese or aged raw milk hard cheese. The cheesemaking process takes six hours from start to finish—the longest of any products at the farm. Cheese is pasteurized, meaning it has been heated at about 145-161 degrees Fahrenheit. When the cheeses are finished, it takes at least sixty days before the raw milk cheese is ready to sell.

Events and Tours at Goodgrass Farm

On the third Sunday every month between 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Goodgrass hosts a producers’ market.  Camille states, “This market showcases neighbors and local producers who do great things…such as raising beef, pork, lamb, poultry, rabbit, wine, and honey.” Offerings include jams, jellies, fruits, vegetables, and a spinning demonstration; jellies, jams, olive oil, and honey can also be found at the Goodgrass Farm store with the dairy products. The event can be found on the Goodgrass Farm website, where people can RSVP. During the producer’s market, people park on the street outside the property.

People are able to tour the farm in groups of four. Arriving in the morning offers people the chance to see the milking process and to avoid the heat of the day. Touring guests can observe the milking process, but may not physically milk a cow.  They may get the chance to pet a cow if they come close. Children age four and up are permitted to tour if accompanied by an adult. If there is an interest in touring Goodgrass Farm, you can submit a message on their website.

When visiting, guests might also meet Ragner, John and Camille Bock’s dog. Ragner is a Swedish Vallhund—a cow herding breed—that looks like a husky and corgi mix. Ragner’s short legs help him come behind the cows to nip at them, to herd. Being short helps ensure that, when the cows kick, he won’t get hurt.

When people look at the cows, they might notice a thin appearance. While some might think all cows are supposed to be big and fat like a beef cow, Camille mentions that milking cows are supposed to look thin. A simple explanation comes from what the different cows produce—meat versus milk. With the energy it takes a milking cow to produce milk every day, they are able to convert feed production into milk, while a beef cow converts their feed production into fat.

Quaintly located at the entrance of the property there is a small, free sharing library. People have to opportunity to take or share a book of their choosing on an honor system. Replacing a book when taking one ensures there are always books available for others.

Goodgrass Farm LLC.
9924 Bilnoski Road
Willis, TX 77378

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