Woodward Creamery Has Customers Saying 'Holy Cow!' - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Woodward Creamery Has Customers Saying 'Holy Cow!'

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By Ron Marasco



In the shadows of a magnificent 120 year-old farmhouse in Woodward, you'll find cows.  Nearly four dozen of them.

"We really love the Jersey cows," said Jill Burkhart, owner of Picket Fence Creamery.

And based on their output, the Jersey cows love the Burkharts.
"You really have to have a love, I think, for the animals and what you're doing in order to make something like this work," said Burkhart.

The "this" is a mom and pop dairy operation.  Jill and Jeff Burkhart have owned the 80-acre dairy farm for more than 20 years.  They worked full-time jobs outside the farm, but the strain eventually took its toll.

"We need(ed) to make a choice here," said Burkhart.  "Because we're milking cows before school, we're milking cows when we get home from work."

Ten years ago, the Burkharts quit their jobs and opened their own creamery.

"One way of doing that (opening their own business) was to get really big, to make a little bit of money on a lot of cows," said Burkhart.

The first couple years, they didn't sleep much.

"Two or three hours a night was good," said Burkhart.

By year three...

"Things really started to click, finally," said Burkhart.

Today, they bottle 2,500 to 3,000 gallons of milk a week.  Burkhart says Iowans clamor over their chocolate milk.

"We admit, we do have what you might even call a cult following on our chocolate milk," said Burkhart.

The Burkharts also make cheese, and...

"Ice cream has become a really important part of what we do here," said Burkhart.

Try 34 flavors, including maple bacon.

"A lot of our flavors were actually suggested by our customers," said Burkhart.

Boutique farms like the Burkhart's have been gaining popularity in the state.

"Local is really the biggest word in food marketing today," said Burkhart.

And it's locals who keep Picket Fence Creamery rising to the top.

"Jeff and I both really like our jobs here, and in fact, now we don't even look at this as coming to work.   We look at this as living our life.  It's been a great ride."
The Burkhart's country store carries items from more than 100 local families.  And stores like Hy-Vee and Fareway carry the Burkhart's products.  Their ice cream can be found in more than 60 locations.


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