Week of 3.27.17

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Erin Go Bra(gh)

Kathy Broock Ballard’s annual St. Patrick’s Day charity event is a play on words – the Gaelic for “Ireland forever.” But her girlfriends, 70 came this year, know that the new underwear they bring will be cherished by the women-in-need clients of Grace Centers of Hope and CARE House of Oakland County. The happy hour party at the Village Club is emerald accented (see photo gallery) and noted for Ballard’s generous hospitality. The venue is special to the hostess because ”...my grandmother was one of the founders of this club.” The news maker at the party was Cheryl Hall-Lindsay. She arrived with a foot cast to go with her arm cast. Both injuries were sustained during her fitness run through the neighborhood, but the foot cast was brand new. “This morning I was hit by a car...and the driver ran over my foot,” she explained. Keeping fit can be dangerous.
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This weeks social light photos…

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oakland confidential

April 2017

BIGOTRY 101: Who could have imagined that in 2017 anti-semitism would once again be rearing its ugly head. Sadly, some local Republicans confirm the toxic malady hit the state’s Republican convention in February, when party administrative vice-chair David Wolkinson of Birmingham ran for re-election to the party position. "There were a bunch of people who also wanted to be vice-chair who ...more»
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Oakland's last farmers


Farmers
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03/02/2015 - Clark Cook wakes before the dawn every day and heads to the barn at his north Oakland County farm to milk more than four dozen cows. By 9 a.m., he collects more than 400 gallons for processing. It's a long, labor-intensive process, and one that he and his family has done for three generations.

"Twice a day, every day. There are no days off. If you're sick, someone has to be here to milk the cows," Cook said about the inherent challenges of dairy farming. "It's a pretty old-fashioned system. We have machines, but we still have to kneel down underneath the cow. It's about as close to using a bucket as you can get. It's a hard occupation to be involved in, unless you enjoy it."

Started in 1933 by Cook's grandfather, the Ortonville farm was once among more than 30 dairy farms in Oakland County. Today, Cook's Farm Dairy, 2950 E. Seymour Lake Rad, is the last remaining dairy in the county. Like most of the large farms remaining in the county, Cook has had to adapt to urbanization and other influences over the years to keep the operation going. For dairy farmers like Cook, the cost of sending their milk out for processing became too much.

"We got to the point that we had to get more cows," Cook said. "If you do that, you need more land, and all the land was going into subdivisions, so we decided to put in the processing plant."

While Cook was attending Michigan State University in the 1980s, a class project required him create a business plan, which he subsequently adopted at the family's farm. In 1982, the dairy installed its own milk processing plant and started selling milk directly to retailers and customers. At the time, many dairy farmers may have questioned the decision to process their own milk. As it turned out, the plant was the thing that saved the farm and allows it to be successful today.

"We would milk the cows, and the semi would come and take it to a processing plant. They would process it and send it out to stores, so we pretty much cut out the middle man," Cook said. "Now we are moo-to-you."

Cook sold his first gallon of milk processed at the plant in 1982. Two years later, the farm added ice cream to its offerings. Today the dairy produces about 35,000 gallons of ice cream each year, available in nearly 30 different flavors available at Spartan retailers in the area, as well as at the farm directly. The farm also produces a variety of cheeses during the winter.

In addition to dairy products, the farm owns about 200 acres of crop land, and rents another 200 acres which allows the farm to be self-sustaining by producing all of its own feed. In the fall, the farm offers pumpkins and hay rides, with tours available throughout the year.

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