Ray and Colleen Jackson, of rural DeGraff, both grew up on dairy farms. Dairy has always been a way of life. It’s ingrained in who they are.
In 1990, Ray and Colleen married and it was just natural to have a dairy farm. Shortly after being married, they purchased their own farm, after living in one in Champaign County, which they rented off Colleen’s parents.
Raising children and continuing their family’s legacy was natural for Ray and Colleen, and they have never swayed from it. A few years ago, Ray began to brainstorm about how their family could keep up with the ever-changing society, and the idea of bottling their milk slowly turned into what is now known today as Indian Creek Creamery. Knowing that they did not want to diminish the quality and taste of their milk, but also knowing that there were strict guidelines by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ray set to work on a plan to bottle some, if not all of their milk and sell it locally.
In 2019 Ray and Colleen bottled their first bottles of milk and sold it here in Logan County, 50 years, almost to the date, after Hopewell Dairy closed its doors. When Hopewell Dairy shut down its milk bottling business it began shipping its raw milk to Dayton. (You will see more about Hopewell in my next story, Wishwell Farms Produce.)
Breaking into the bottled milk business is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot that goes into just one small bottle of milk. The Jackson’s milk 80 cows a day, getting 5,000 pounds of milk a day. (That’s roughly 581 gallons of milk per day.) One-half of the milk gets bottled for public consumption, and the other half is sold, in bulk, to a dairy to make cheese, just outside of Amish Country, here in Ohio.
The Jackson’s milk is pasteurized but not homogenized. The pasteurization process is a quick process that brings the milk to around 170 degrees and then quickly cools it down to 40 degrees within two minutes. Pasteurizing milk reduces the chance of illness. Pasteurization kills possibly harmful germs that could be in the milk. Raw milk can get contaminated in many ways, and even healthy cows can carry germs that are harmful to humans.
The milk you purchase in the store is both pasteurized and homogenized. Homogenized milk means that the cream that rises to the top of raw milk has been removed. When you get a bottle of the Jackson’s milk you must first shake it, redistributing the cream that has risen to the top. Many local folks love their milk with the cream in it, but if you are not someone who has experienced that taste, it is a much richer, fuller milk. It’s something that our grandfathers would have consumed straight from the cow. And if you’re anything like me, you love it in your Cornflakes, it’s amazing!
When Ray and Colleen began to sell their bottled milk, it was hard to sell locally, however, they found that it was an easy sell in bigger cities. The bulk of the Jackson’s sales happens in Columbus and Cincinnati. Especially at coffee shops.
The Jackson’s have seen and experienced first-hand the health benefits of drinking pure, farm-fresh milk as nature intended, and wanted to make it available to the public without extensive processing. Their sustainable family farm grows non-GMO crops to feed their cows, which supply all their creamery’s Grade A milk. They use very humane animal practices and no artificial growth hormones.
Studies from the Department of Agriculture, the American Heart Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that whole milk burns fat, builds muscles, makes bones healthier, lowers blood pressure, and helps prevent certain cancers. This drives them to provide the best for neighbors & customers locally and inside the state of Ohio. The Jacksons are committed to providing milk that comes from cows who are cared for and loved.
Something else that is unique about the Jackson’s milk is that they have over 40 cows that have the A2/A2 genetic mutation. Now, hear me out before freaking out. A2/A2 milk comes from cows in their herd that are DNA tested to have only the A2/A2 protein. There are two different forms of the gene that instructs cows how to form the protein in milk (A1 or A2). It is believed that all cows originally produced A2 milk, but at some point, there was a mutation in the genome that caused some cows to have the A1 gene. Both forms of protein are perfectly healthy, but new research, as well as anecdotal evidence, is showing that the A2 protein is easier to digest. Many people that have milk sensitivities are finding that they can drink A2 milk without digestive upsets. Minimally processed milk is also known to be easier on the digestive system. The Jackson’s have had lots of customers tell them that they are sensitive to dairy, and are able to drink their milk without any problems!
The most recent product that the Jackson’s are producing is chocolate milk! In 2021 they finalized their recipe and in December of that year, they rolled
it out. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the richest milk I have had, without being overpowering or too sweet.
Offering their three milk types in 64-ounce jugs, you can pick up one (or two) at a few places in Logan County, both Community Markets in Bellefontaine and the one in Lakeview, Saucy Sows just outside of DeGraff, Blue Jacket Dairy in Bellefontaine and Country Variety Store in Bellefontaine. And the following restaurants in Bellefontaine use the Jackson’s milk in their recipes, Rise Bake House, Taco Vila, and 2 G’s Barbecue.
While farming isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and working 80-plus hours a week is hard and trying, Ray and Coleen wouldn’t have it any other way. With the help of a few employees and a whole lot of faith, their business is flourishing and they are doing what they love.
You can learn more about Indian Creek Creamery and the Jackson’s at https://www.indiancreekcreamery.com/.
Stay tuned for more stories just like this, telling the story of your friends and neighbors, right here in Logan County. Where I am Cultivating Community, one story at a time. Next up: Henry Farms.