Where did Freanna come from?
We, the van der Ploeg's are a dairy farming family from the province of Friesland in the Netherlands, and immigrated to the United States in 2003. After settling in Clovis, NM we continued milking cows, raising our own calves and harvesting silage to feed our cows and calves, just like we did in the Netherlands. Our family has always made and enjoyed our homemade yoghurt. We have continued the tradition and are introducing our very own Freanna Original Yoghurt to share with everyone.
Andle van der Ploeg had the dream to move to the United States of America in his early twenties. While Andle and Sjierkje, his wife of over 30 years were dating, Andle asked Sjierkje if she would be willing to move the United States with him, she said yes she would. The journey began.
Andle and Sjierkje were blessed with four children, Bart, Karla, Jeroen and Gerben. All children are involved in the family business, the dairy, farming and yoghurt.
Andle and Sjierkje were both born in a dairy farming family and continued to dairy on the farm Andle and his family moved to when he was seven years old. Many improvements were made to the old dairy farm and that delayed him from pursuing his dream. Over time and after a few visits to the United States of America, Andle rented a small dairy farm in Event, Texas. For many years Andle would travel back and forth between the United States and the Netherlands, growing the dairy in the United States while also running a dairy in the Netherlands with help of Sjierkje and the kids.
The dairy farm in Event Texas was getting to small for the growing farm, Andle found another dairy to rent in Stephenville Texas. A few years later Andle was ready to build his own dairy. Traveling all over the United States, finding the best weather for the cows, testing for water quality, soil quality,and state regulations he found Clovis New Mexico to fit his criteria. A few years after the dairy was build the dairy in the Netherlands was sold as well as his herd of cows that had been in the family for a long time. The whole family moved to the United States curious to this country of opportunity. The hardest part of moving was not being able to take the cows with us, part of our heritage, our Anna's had to stay in the Netherlands because of import and export regulations at the time.
"Freanna" originated from Friesland, the northern province in the Netherlands we are originally from and Anna. Anna represents not just one important cow but a whole family! Anna was bought in 1938, before the second world war in the Netherlands by our father/grandfather. Andle van der Ploeg learned to milk by hand when he was 6 years old on Anna 12, she was a very sweet cow and a great teacher! Anna 126 was a very special cow for our family, she was a famous one and made it in the news several times. Like an Olympic athlete, she was in great shape, healthy and strong she also had a strong personality. She had a friend in the herd, Reintsje and you could always find them standing next to each other eating their silage in the barn or walking together from the pasture ready to get milked. Anna wasn't afraid to push another cow out of the way if she was thirsty, even at her old age. She lived a long life and had several baby calves. There will never be another Anna quite like her, but her name is part of our history . She's lives on in Freanna Yoghurt.
Values and Why do we choose not to be organic?
We hope this answers all your questions.
We make our own silage (feed for the cows) and work with local farmers as well. If the ground needs additional fertilizer to produce a nutritious crop, we provide it. Our motto is, if you take from land you have to give to the land. Manure from our dairy is used to fertilize however if that does not provide enough nutrients for the land we add additional fertilizer to make sure the ground does not get depleted. Rotating crops is also part of our farming program.
Time in the Pasture
Our ladies are provided with a very large fenced in area (pen) which has a shaded area, wind blocks and almost 365 days of sunshine a year; they have maternity leave and receive first class accommodation and an extra watchful eye during their pregnancy and delivery. We don’t have our cows out in the pasture in New Mexico however, feed and water is close so they will not have to walk very far in 90-100 degree weather. At the hottest time of the day almost all cows lay down or stand in the large shaded area in their pen. It is an ideal picture to see cows walk in pastures a few months out of the year. Generally, in colder or wet climates the rest of the year the cows would be indoors in large free-stalls where they can walk around yet laydown in comfortable sand or straw bedding and they would be protected from the elements. It is what we grew up with in the Netherlands.
New Mexico has a completely different climate, one that allows cows to be outside all year round.
Water is very valuable, if we have our cows in the field and allow them to graze the field it will have to be irrigated otherwise there is hardly anything for them to graze. Cows when grazing will walk and crush part of their feed, they lay in it and use it as their bathroom. There is a loss of crop and wasted water as a result of the inefficiency. To be good stewards of this part of the country we have to be as conservative with water as much as possible. That’s not the only reason; today’s cows have been bred to make high quality milk. Just grass does not provide them with all the nutrients they need. The cows need additional high quality nutrients. As a result, they get to hangout in a large comfortable fenced in area with shade and get a mixture of feed specifically formulated for them by a nutritionist to make sure they get all the nutrients their body needs to be a healthy cow.
Cows can get mastitis and we will treat them. They can also get an eye infection or any other infection, worms, pneumonia you name it they are not immune to illnesses. We will not let them suffer and will treat the illness at hand, the sick cows will be separated in our designated hospital pen until they are better and they have fulfilled the time frame removing the medicine from their body. Some still need to be milked to prevent mastitis or help heal and that is done after all the healthy cows are milked. The milk from the sick cows is always separated. After the sick cows have been milked the whole milking system is cleaned to ensure food safety.
We guarantee that we never have and never will give our calves medicine to grow faster or cows to give more milk. The health of our calves and cows is our top priority. We believe making the cows as comfortable as possible and giving them the best quality feed is how a cow, really a top performer, will make the best quality milk which we use to make Freanna Yoghurt.
Growing up we always ate wholesome food, rarely processed. Sjierkje (my mother & Demo Lady) would always cook us dinner and in The Netherlands it was normal to have dessert which would consist of homemade yoghurt and a little brown sugar. Even then we preferred the homemade yoghurt over the store bought because it wasn’t as tart!
In the US and over time the recipe has improved even more. We love the probiotics and all of us can tell that it has a positive impact on our bodies. Some customers have even mentioned to us that they get addicted to it and their body craves it. No scientific tests have been done on Freanna yoghurt proving that point, yet we believe we should listen to our bodies. We are also aware that there is a group of people who does not respond well to dairy products and we are thankful for all the alternative products available to them.
Andle (my dad) however swears that our Freanna Yoghurt can cure anything and will tell you to have at least one if not two servings of Freanna Yoghurt each day. He enjoys it for breakfast with oats (soaked overnight) and of course for dessert! Best way to start and end your day.
There is something about wanting to be healthy and actually feeling healthy from the inside out. I had no idea how much food, eating wholesome, natural foods and especially the probiotics in yoghurt create such a good feeling it does make you want to get seconds or lick that bowl clean and feel good about it!
We continue to be passionate and proud of our dairy and the care of our cows and their health. Because of this, our cows produce delicious healthy milk, allowing us to create smooth Freanna Original Yoghurt. We are excited to share our delicious smooth and wholesome yoghurt with you and your family.
With love from all of us & our cows!
Karla van der Ploeg Habel
The Freanna Team & van der Ploeg family