This landmark stock barn on Cason Road was part of Bowen’s Dairy.
Tag Archives: Georgia Dairies
I was born at the tail-end of the era of home milk delivery and therefore, had never tasted “fresh” milk. After reading an article by Damon Lee Fowler about Southern Swiss Dairy, I decided it was time to try it for myself.
I liked what I read about Jimmy and Ginny Franks, who during the economic downturn of the late 2000s decided to transform their cattle operation into a commercial dairy that would focus on non-homogenized low-pasteurized milk, with no use of growth hormones. They also sell butter, ice cream, beef, and fresh eggs. Southern Swiss Dairy has been in business since 2010.
They source their milk from these wonderful Brown Swiss cows, which are among the top milk-producing breeds. Besides productivity, the Brown Swiss are just happier cows than most. They’re friendly, even.
Southern Swiss Dairy wasn’t the easiest place to find, and though they sell most of their product in retail locations, I wanted to see the cows myself. I could tell that Ginny Franks was busy when we pulled up to the dairy office but she was very welcoming. This isn’t one of those “tourist farms” that source their products from all over the place and call it local, but a place where what you see is what you get. And there are a lot of those “tourist farms” around the state.
We bought some whole and chocolate milk and some fresh butter and I’m impressed with the taste, which is slightly different than what I’m used to. But more importantly, I have a new appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into making milk. The dairying life is a hard one and at Southern Swiss Dairy, it’s obvious that it’s a labor of love.
Cal Avery notes that this old dairy was long obscured by vegetation. I’m told it t operated from at least the 1940s until the late 1960s. The image above shows the front of the building, likely the office. Below is an image of the rear of the structure, where cows were kept and milked. Thanks to Cal for bringing it to my attention. Wade Peebles writes: The property had belonged to the late Mr. Jimmy Morgan, publisher of the Swainsboro Forest Blade, owner of the Ford dealership, and other business interests and owner of a good bit of land in Emanuel County, including McGarrh’s Mill Pond. He owned the land and sold it just before he died, I believe just last year at over 100 years of age. The land on Ga56, where the old dairy sits, was his first wife’s Father’s land. He was old Dr. Franklin, who owned the dairy. It was last operated in the early 1960s, by Lee Roy Smith.
This landmark on Bemiss Road remains, but more of the letters have fallen off the sign as of 2016. The property was originally known as the Biles Farm, beginning in the 1880s, and was purchased by the Vallotton family in the 1940s to accommodate their growing dairy operation. The original Biles farmhouse was occupied by the dairy foreman for many years. This barn was built in the 1940s, as I understand it, and the dairy was in operation until 1990. Hugh Vallotton, son of dairy founder Joseph Edward Vallotton, managed the farm until his death in 1979 and his nephew, Robert Vallotton, took over and remained at the helm until retiring in 1990.