Last Wednesday my groupmate Amy and I went to the Negranti Dairy in Templeton to film footage for our video project. It was just what the doctor ordered.
I’d had a terrible week. I was struggling to meet the technology demands my curriculum was throwing at me, and just wanted a day to spend completely without a computer screen.
Enter the picturesque dairy of Alexis Negranti, nestled high in the rolling hills and vineyards north of San Luis Obispo, where you can’t even get cell reception.
Alexis and her husband, Wade, produce artisan sheep milk ice cream from the 11 ewes on their farm. They milk twice a day, at 5 AM and 5 PM, and manage absolutely everything themselves. They take care of the sheep, distribute their product, make their ice cream, manage all their own public relations, and manage the farm 100%. Wade also works at a rock quarry in Cayucos, leaving Alexis to do most of the work herself.
Alexis is beautiful. She looks like a prairie fairy princess. She comes from an ag background, but knew nothing about milking sheep before she bought her starter flock a little over a year ago. Now, she is up to her elbows in baby lambs and bleeting ewes, ice cream mix and fresh herbs.
When we asked what common misconceptions people had about her sheep dairy, Alexis answered, “People tell me all the time, ‘This is a fairy tale’. And it is, and I wouldn’t change any of it. But it’s also a lot of hard work. I barely have enough time to do laundry and clean the house.”
Alexis’ dairy gave me a good opportunity to glimpse into a real, rustic, down- home farm, as opposed to the huge commercial farms that documentary filmmakers usually search out for their documentaries about farm animal abuse. Alexis names all her sheep and knows their personalities. They are all free- range and the harshest technologyAlexis uses is probably an electric fence.
And the ice cream? Delicious. We sampled strawberry basil, but she also makes lavender lemon, vanilla bean, black coffee and organic honey. Alexis said something about squash ice cream for fall.
Most importantly, Alexis says she makes the ice cream “with love”.
“We love our animals, we love our farm and we hope you love our product,” she said.