Altfrid traveled to New Zealand to learn the intensive rotational grazing methods that he would later be recognized for. "Not only is life happy for the cows that graze leisurely on well-managed grass, it's a much easier life for a dairy farmer, as well as a blessing for the environment," Altfrid explains. "Instead of planting, cultivating, harvesting, and operating a tractor all day long, the cows do it for you. (Of course, Altfrid doesn't allow them to drive the tractor.) And the cows are healthier for it. They walk out to their pastures each day, harvest their own food, and do us a great favor by spreading manure on the fields to keep the soil nourished. Grass is the perfect food for bovines, and it is an excellent perennial crop that guards against soil erosion."
Accompanied by the children and an abundance of songbirds, Altfrid tends a contented herd. Under a canopy of huge oaks, he adjusts the pasture area twice a day, on their 320 acre farm, using lightweight portable wands and fencing wire.
All this said, Altfrid is careful not to make it all sound too romantic. The fact is, farming is hard work. He describes it this way: "Some days it'll rain when it's not supposed to just when you're trying to get your hay in…then the tractor won't start…the calves are bellering because they're hungry…and it's Thanksgiving and you just wish you had the night off." In the same breath, he smiles and adds, "but on nights when you've walked the cows out to pasture, and we take the time to watch the sun set peacefully with our children, it all feels worth it."
Altfrid has become a leading advocate for grazing in America. He teaches at the local University, and speaks and consults with farmers across the country.
Love is in the air here!
Sue introduces me to a newlywed couple, Maria and Harold, as they emerge from the New Zealand-style swing parlor after finishing the milking chores. "It's hard for young people to get started these days because of the cost of land and animals," says Sue. "We gift every 5th heifer calf born here to them, so at the end of their internship, they will leave with their own organic herd. It's a good start for a young couple. That's our goal here."
Each week, curious folk from all over the world visit the farm. The Krusenbaum's success has attracted serious notice. And that success reaches far beyond the boundaries of this special dairy farm.
You can visit the Krusenbaums online at www.krusengrassfarms.com