Kappers Big Red Barm has a herd of 35-50 happy, contented cows, content to give Hot Chip and Porch some happy, contented customers.
That’s what Kappers Big Red Barn’s is all about, reaching more people and giving them the old fashion and real taste of milk! Their milk is low-temp pasteurized and homogenized in a licensed milk plant right next to the barn where the cows are milked. To ensure quality, the Kappers use only milk produced on their farm. So this is farmstead in every sense of the word.
Kappers’ Big Red Barn is located in Chatfield, MN and, is owned by Bob and Jeanette Kappers. Their farm is a family affair with sons Jacob, Lucas, and Ethan. Between milking cows, fixing the bottling machines, and trying to expand the product line, Bob said it’s “always busy, but we’re always together.” Monday and Tuesday are easily 18-hour days. Others aren’t quite so grueling, they say, not flinching. They’re more like 12 hour days. (we totally understand that in the restaurant industry)! Jeanette adds, “ There are days you wonder why you’re doing it, but it’s so worth it. Every day is different, interesting, and never dull. There’s never a thoughtless day.”
Kappers’ has a self-serve store on the farm open from 6 am to 8 pm every day, on County Road 5, just outside of Chatfield.
They also provide tours to groups and school field trips. In addition to milk, heavy cream and cheese curds, they sell ice cream at the store. Fresh butter is their next addition along with some more ice cream flavors.
And if that’s not all, they sell their products at several farmers markets. A portion of the items for the market is loaded Friday nights. Then bright and early (3 am early) they finish loading and head off to their various destinations: Winona, Rochester, St. Paul, and Minneapolis. With more than a decade of markets under their belt, that makes for a lot of early mornings and time on the road.
Cellar, in particular, is aware of farmers schedules as Lucas Kappers is one of Cellar’s chefs. Because of the family’s dedication and Lucas’s desire to one day take over the farm, he has cut his cooking down to just two nights a week. Even that will be ending with summer approaching. Lucas is marrying his fiance Jenna soon, and they have a lot milking and markets in their future! Lucas is confident and excited about all the opportunities in front of him. With markets, it’s a guessing game,” says Lucas. “Every city, every market is different [with rules and regulations]. We’re selling out every week, but it’s a good problem to have.” “You put a lot of work into getting one bottle of milk, so it’s important people that appreciate what you do,” he said. “They do, and it’s a great feeling.”
So our cap goes off to Lucas. We will miss him when he leaves. However, we look forward to many more years of enjoying his milk with a slice of pie at Porch or in our fancy malted shakes at Hot Chip.
Check out our next blog post where we find out a few more facts about Lucas Kappers.