In the summer of 2009, Daniel and Laurie Brooks made the decision to leave the family farm in New York state where Daniel was raised and the couple had lived for 28 years. After many months of searching, their daughter Margot, who manages Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vermont, sent home some photos of an old blind African Grey goose that had wandered into her yard mourning the death of its mate. When she found the goose’s owner down the road, she learned that he was planning to sell. This neighborly visit led to the purchase, in January 2011 of the Brooks’ new family home, and its name, Wayward Goose Farm, as well as a lasting partnership between the new farm and Consider Bardwell Farm.
It was their partners at Consider Bardwell that convinced Dan and Laurie to become Animal Welfare Approved. The majority of the milk from their mostly-Jersey dairy herd goes to their neighbors, who make award-winning raw milk cheeses. Animal Welfare Approved standards, says Daniel, represented “things they believe in and were mostly already doing.” They are proud that they are able to graze out their cows, letting them pick their own grasses and feeding them only hay when pasture is unavailable—never the fermented grains that ruminants are ill-evolved to digest. They “keep it simple,” letting the animals take care of themselves.
Besides the milk that goes to Consider Bardwell’s cheese-making operation, locals can also buy milk directly from Wayward Goose Farm. Daniel and Laurie know that many of their customers have young children that are drinking their milk. This inspires them to make sure everything is as clean as possible.
The Brooks are very happy to be in their new home with their daughter Jill, who is still in high school and is often too busy with sports to help on the farm, and next door to their daughter Margot who, with her boyfriend Alex Eaton, continues to manage Consider Bardwell Farm. It is also a great location for Laurie’s art studio, where she works with water colors and graphite. Although it’s “not always easy to pay the bills,” says Daniel, “we really like what we do.”