Two Waxahachie sisters are hard at work operating the only remaining raw dairy in Ellis County, according to the Texas Health Department of State Health Services.
About five miles south of Lake Waxahachie on Farm-to-Market Road 877 is Bo-Tex Dairy. Samantha “Bo” Clark and Jessica Lynch grew up on the farm they now run, “seven days a week, twice a day, 365 days a year, rain, snow, holiday, sickness, whatever,” Lynch emphasized.
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The two tag-team the barn with Lynch focused on the milking process and Clark performing more labor-intensive work, separating cattle, feeding beef cattle and calves, cleaning pins and hauling buckets.
The single mothers begin their weekdays around 8 a.m. to allow time to drop their children off at school, while the morning shift starts at 5 a.m. on the weekends. Every day is different at the barn, too. On some days, a three-hour job turns into a 10-hour job. Then, the process is done all over again in the evening for a two-hour shift.
“This is defiantly not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” Clark said.
Clark explained that her father, Cleve Clark, originally established the dairy.
“My dad kept telling me that, ‘I want something in your name. The farm thing is something you’ve always wanted to do, and I think the dairy would be something good for you,’” Clark explained.
The dairy farm was a way for Clark to support her daughter, Kennadi, 7, and herself. She took her father’s advice and invested her time into the dairy farm.
The milking began in late 2011, and the dairy was certified by the state in December of 2016. In the meantime, the family would giveaway milk to people to feed their dogs and, other than that, the sisters were pouring the milk down the drain. During the window of trial and error, Clark transformed a show barn into a dairy barn with the installation of pipes, water, electrical, a drainage system and built a walk-in cooler.
The approval process conducted by the state was long and extraneous. Clark mentioned the state inspector was very strict and prohibited any leeway.
The sisters explained the difference between their raw product and pasteurized products purchased in a grocery store is all in the cooling process.
“We know it goes straight from the cow and within minutes it’s down to 42 degrees and then within a couple of hours it gets down to anywhere from 34 to 37 degrees, and that’s where it stays,” Clark explained.
Milk at Bo-Tex Dairy is not pasteurized — which is a process that kills harmful bacteria by heating the milk and quickly cooling it down —or homogenized, which focuses on the break down of fat molecules to eliminate a layer of cream. During these processes, a large portion of good bacteria is removed, and a longer shelf life is provided.
“Our bodies need that good bacteria and those probiotics for our guts to work correctly,” Lynch said.
The sisters pride their business on transparency, customer service and, most importantly, sanitization.
When reflecting on the profits of the business, Lynch disclosed sales were not consistent and often fluctuated. Clark admitted the marketing aspect is not her strength and when Lynch came on board nearly a year ago, sales started to become more stable.
“During the summer, we got to a point where we were losing a massive amount of money," Lynch explained. "Like, we can’t go on like this, we’ve got to set a time period of 'if the dairy farm isn’t paying for itself then we have to shut it down.'"
Lynch jumped on social media, blasting posts daily and hosting giveaways during the weekends to showcase their variety of products. It worked.
“Business is picking up and still is not where we need to be, but we are going to give it until the end of the year and see where we are,” Lynch said.
Bo-Tex Dairy offers a gallon of milk for $7, a pint of heavy cream for $14, a pint of light cream for $7 and a pint of half-and-half for $5.
“People might look at it and think it’s high but if you were to look into any other raw milk dairy, you’re going to see that we are on the low-end,” Clark assured. She also mentioned most dairy farms do not sell a variety of products.
On the farm are about 20 cows with eight of those on the milk line. According to thecattlesite.com, milk produced by Brown Swiss cattle have the second-highest annual milk yield that contains, on average, four percent butterfat and 3.5 percent protein, which is excellent when making cheese.
Loyal customer, LaDonna Gutierrez, has purchased milk from Bo-Tex Dairy since it opened. After Gutierrez took three extensive cheese classes at Homestead Heritage, she needed to find quality dairy to begin crafting her own. She came across the local raw dairy on Facebook.
Gutierrez boasted that the flexible hours and the quantity that is available. The seasoned cheese artisan has made feta, Parisian, cheddar, Havarti, gouda, whey, mozzarella, ricotta, provolone and camembert cheeses with the Bo-Tex milk. She also whips up her own buttermilk, butter, yogurt and sour cream.
“That milk is to die for. When you have it fresh and not processed from the store, it’s nothing like you’ve ever tasted. It’s crazy and insane good,” Gutierrez said.
She compared homegrown tomatoes and a tomato from the store, while Lynch compares Dr Pepper and Dr. Thunder to give an idea of the difference.
“By getting their milk, it’s fresh. They were milked that day. It’s the freshest of the fresh. The flavor is, to me, different than the store bought. It’s not watered down and I like that I’m able to take off the cream off the top,” LaDonna said.
Clark and Lynch open the barn to all customers and even host field trips to explain the process of the dairy and to expose more children to the lifestyle. It’s also a way to show others how they live and how they treat people. Also, the two get to see the milk bring families together, often making ice cream or butter to bond over.
“Obviously, our main purpose is to provide for our families, to provide them a future. But at the same time this has given us a medium to share faith, God’s love and his word,” Lynch said.
If interested in purchasing Bo-Tex Dairy products, anyone can place an order by messaging them on Facebook or calling Clark at 972-743-7490. The sisters also encourage anyone to stop by to purchase the milk. One of them is always at the barn since there are no set hours.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450