Milk and Cheese From a Fish
Fish Family Farm, Bolton
August 7, 2009
[This page is merely an adapted copy of the same page over in the Cheese Trail section. To read the full report, including more about the farm’s cheese and milk, go here.]
No, the Fish Family does not raise or sell fish. They raise cows and chickens and sell milk and ice cream and cheese eggs and other related items – and they are awesome. Readers of this blog know I don’t toss that word around lightly. But this place really is a great little oasis of days gone by and of deliciousness.
In fact, I think it may be the place that inspired me to create a separate blog section for Connecticut’s working dairy farms and cheesemakers. Sure, I’d been to UConn’s Dairy Barn previously (CTMQ Visit here), but it didn’t inspire me like the Fish Family Farm did. My first visit truly was a (very small) life-changing experience for me.
I’ll break down my visit in three sections: The farm, the cheese and the milk. But note: All three are equally excellent.
Y’know, as I look at these pictures of my son on a beautiful warm summer’s day… These are the moments I cherish as a parent. Okay, before I get all misty on you, let’s get to it.
Another day with Damian looking for stuff to do… I decided, quite randomly, that we’d drive over to Bolton and check out the Fish Family Farm. My plan was simply to see the animals and maybe get an ice cream, for I didn’t really know what else they had to offer. Even though it’s in Bolton, which sounds so exotic and distant to many Nutmeggers, it’s right off of I-384 and I got there surprisingly fast. (However, once on their long and winding driveway, don’t drive like an idiot. There are two blind corners and if someone is also driving like an idiot coming the other way, watch out. I had this experience at a later visit and had a very, very near miss.)
Don Fish always dreamed of owning a farm that he could share with other people, so in 1981 he bought the farm and he opened it to the public. “We just feel like we have 200 acres and we should share it.”
Damian and I began exploring the farm and he was immediately drawn to the chickens. The chickens here live in an inside/outside coop and seemed rather happy as they clucked about – even as Damian poked at their heads through the mesh.
Around back is a large pasture with some of their cows grazing about. All of their cows are Jerseys and they were born on the farm. The Fish Family Farm are one of the state’s few remaining dairy farms that milk, pasteurize and bottle their own milk. I’ve read there are only three others in the state… And I’m very curious to visit all of them. For as you’ll read below, the milk here is simply the best I’ve ever had. There are a bunch of “raw milk” places and I know of some goat’s milk joints, but I really am curious about the pasteurized cow’s milk ones. Anyone?
There is also an barn we walked through with a few cows milling about. It’s all very open and Damian and I were allowed to go anywhere we wanted. We watched the cows for a while but it was pretty hot, so it was time for some ice cream.
We went into the farm store and I was stopped in my tracks. As I mentioned, I had no idea they made cheese and milk here. In the meantime, I bought Damian a little cup of black raspberry ice cream and we went outside to the bench to enjoy it together. Mmm-mm, delicious. Rich and creamy, just the way I like it. My son and I sort of just sat there for a while, enjoying the peacefulness of the farm (and Bolton in general), which was pretty nice.
I just love finding places like this and while I’m not sure they’ll be around forever, I want to be sure to enjoy them for as long as they are. (Read this article to see what I’m talking about. It’s interesting to learn (just now, from that article) that the owner of the Fish Family Farm is the same DW Fish from DW Fish Realty company, which is a nice way to finance his “hobby” farm.
Depending on when you’re on the farm, you may catch the milking operation. You are welcome to observer the milking and bottling process right there in the barn. You can also watch the bottling and ice cream making processes through the observation window from the little shop area as well.
Once Damian and I were finished up with the farm and the ice cream, we went back inside and I bought some milk and cheese. Then we poked around Bolton a bit (even finding a tiny little playground which Damian enjoyed) and a town history trail before heading home.