Biodynamic Farming Secrets for Homesteaders – Brook & Rose Levan








Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:

  • Making your own butter on the homestead!
  • Starting your own kefir.
  • How to use a small milking machine (demo)
  • Milking a cow while a calf is still feeding.
  • The magic of a 3-Bin Compost System—explained.
  • How a trampoline & kids can make butter.
  • Extending the shelf-life of your homemade butter.
  • Enjoy a TOUR of their beautiful ranch.
  • See first-hand how they’re managing their dairy cows.

About The Speakers:

Brook and Rose Levan co-founded the non-profit Sustainable Settings in 1997, after returning from a seven-month trip to China and experiencing culture shock upon re-entry in the United States—aiming to create a setting where people could live and learn to create a more sustainable future.

This eventually resulted in the purchase of Thompson Creek Ranch in Pitkin County, Colorado and the establishment of the Whole Systems Learning Center, where they work on direct and locally applicable solutions to climate change, food and energy security, and the regeneration of healthy topsoil.

Learners of all ages (from Kindergarten through University) are invited to experience their on-site, hands-on education programs.

QUESTION: Have you tried making your own butter? How about kefir? Do you or have you ever had dairy cows? Leave your thoughts below.



  1. Jon

    I had diverticulitis surgery after managing it for years finally failed.

    Neighbors who knew of kefir brought me over some and taught me about it.

    It is from that direction that I am eager to learn more about it and other similar aspects. I thank you for your time and energies.

  2. Marjory WIldcraft

    Had a funny experience making butter. We got some beautiful local cream from grass-fed cows and an old hand churn. The whole family took turns (it does take some work!). The butter was so delicious I couldn’t stop eating it. I ate so much of it my family got mad at me for it… So then I had to find a source of fresh butter. It is totally worth it.

    1. Carol

      We used to take our goat milk, put it in a jar with ice cubes, and take turns shaking it. Magic!

      1. Patty

        So whole goat milk, not just the little bit of cream than can be skimmed? Tell me more please!

  3. Charles Richardson

    Thanks folks for sharing valuable information!. From a old goat dairyman.

  4. Kelly Lowe

    Ifound the self-serve mineral bins for you cows extremely interesting and innovative. I am amazed how the cows can determine what they need.

    1. Darla

      Me, too. I’ve got goats and I know they also take what they need, but I need more info. Gonna email the LeVans and ask where they get their mineral supplements.

  5. Marykay

    Help! When I click on play, it only takes me to Wistia. I can see their video just fine, but not this at all. I have checked the other videos for today and they are all doing the same thing. Help, I really want to watch.

    1. Jimerson

      Hi Marykay! That is so strange!! Would you be able to try on a different web browser?

      1. Carol

        I just tried on Internet Explorer and Mozilla. Neither will play at all. Nothing. Not even an error message.

        1. Jimerson

          Hi Carol! Do you possibly have an outdated browser or slow internet connection? Those seem to be the two most common issues for the video not coming up!

    2. frankie

      I had the same issue with Firefox but it works fine on Google Chrome. Try it!

      1. Jimerson

        Thank you Frankie!

  6. Hans Quistorff

    Qberry Farm has had a milk cow on it in the past. After that it had goats. Now it only has occasional visits from neighbor cows that escape from their depleted pastures. I harvest the fields for mulch to compost in place between the berry rows and garden plots.
    I sell enough berries through our Fresh Food Revolution Co-op to buy my raw dairy from Black Jack Farm and make my own yogurt.The farm is a life style rather than a business where I can share my 70+ years of homestead experience.

    1. Marjory WIldcraft

      Hans, I wish you were my neighbor

  7. Chris A. Marcus

    I am jealous. I want to make cheese from raw milk. I understand that it is now against federal law to sell raw milk. I live in western Arkansas (about 30 miles south of Fort Smith) and even the local health food stores cannot refer me to a source. Any help on where I might be able to obtain some raw milk would be greatly appreciated

    1. Mary

      can get raw milk in western washington state. ????? against federal law

    2. Alicia

      Reach out to a food co-op. Often, they can help find a local farmer. Each state (rather than federal) has their own raw milk laws.

      It actually looks like AR is friendlier than other states!

      1. Alicia
      2. Marjory WIldcraft

        Thanks Alicia for responding!

    3. Marjory WIldcraft

      Chris, people have been coming up with creative ways to get access to raw milk legally. One way is to buy into a “cow share” where you own part of the cow, and hence the milk. I bet some of the folks up in Fayetteville know, or are doing this. Hmm, there was also some pretty switched on folks in Mena too, if I recall correctly.
      Another thing to try is put out an intention (prayer, energy, how ever you want to call it) and ask for help. You’ll get inspiration and connection if you stay open.

    4. Jennifer

      Its also against the law in Florida to sell raw milk for human consumption. But you can say you are using it for your livestock and the dairy can sell it to you. They know its really for you. The one I’ve been to has recipes on their website to make cheese, butter, etc.

      There are even some farms that deliver to certain spots in Tampa once a week for those people that cant drive to the farm.

  8. Alicia

    Thank you for the intimate look at your farm! My husband and I wanted to know about separating cream. Do you use a cream seperator?

  9. Andrew Bond

    Anyone know how to fix the resolution? I can only get 360p, even on fullscreen and it’s horrible!

    1. Jimerson

      Hi Andrew, sorry to hear about your video issues! Do you happen to be viewing on a slower internet connection? You might try pausing the video and letting it load a bit before viewing!

  10. TRISH

    Many summits provide a 48 hour view versus 24 hrs. What say you?

    1. Marjory WIldcraft

      Hi Trish, We have so many speakers it is difficult to fit them all in.
      And, we aren’t just any other summit! grin.

  11. Rebecca

    Unable to stream video from my Windows phone. ?

    1. Jimerson

      Howdy Rebecca! That’s not good. : ( Are you able to try a different browser on your Windows phone? I apologize I don’t have much experience with them!

  12. Kim

    Thank you for introducing – Free choice minerals !

    I appreciate the methods of this farm including the practice of having the calf on.

    Here is a link with more information about Helfter:

  13. Vege-tater

    It amazes me that humans can still justify dominating other sentient creatures and feeding them the food we could use to feed the hungry, no matter what kind of “humane” or “sustainable” system they profess to employ. Animals are not ours to use as personal commodities! Even Howard Lyman knows that eating plants and being a whole food vegan is the healthiest thing for the animals, us, and the planet. Time to wake up people, there is no need to eat and enslave animals.

    1. Blessed beyond measure

      Sorry you feel that way. Apparently you haven’t read the Bible.

  14. david n brasil

    Thank you so much for your video.
    Can you make butter from pasteurized cream from supermarket?

    1. Nance Shaw

      Not easily. The pasteurization smashes the cream molecules into such tiny things that it won’t come back together.

      That being said, we have OFTEN made butter while trying to whip pasteurized heavy cream for strawberries.

      So I think the correct answer would be: you cannot make butter if you WANT to!

    2. Mary Lea Tucker

      Yes, you can. It’s just not a healthy as non pasteurized.
      (Really in Brasil? I’ve been 5 times! Love Brasil)

  15. Kim

    On the topic of dairy cows with a calf on, are there any tricks to efficiently separating momma and baby for the night? Is this something you use your herding dog for?


  16. Donna

    What kind of arrangement do you have with you herd shareholders? How are expenses/milk/other benefits split?

  17. AmyK

    I enjoyed this segment but feel it should have been titled better, something about uses of raw milk or how to make kefir. I was hoping to see how this ranch used it’s vegetable & animals bi-products (manure, etc) to make wonderful compost to feed the soil (the bio-dynamic part of healing the soil)

  18. Barb Herron

    My son wanted to know why should be get a cow? This would be the answer! Thanks for the inspiration.

  19. Mary Lea Tucker

    I’m in the Memphis TN area and while I don’t have a source for raw milk, I can get low temp pasturized, non-homogenized milk from grass fed cows from a local dairy at my local Whole Foods and Sprouts stores. I buy the whole milk, skim off the cream and freeze until I have enough or buy the cream right before the buy by date. Then I make butter using a hand mixer. Add a little salt or garlic for flavoring if desired. Only takes about 10 minutes. Best taste in the world!

  20. Noralene Ballou

    I liked the content very much but it kept pausing for long periods of time, and that was testing my patients. sure hope this is not a problem with the other interviews.

    1. Jimerson

      Hello Noralene! I’m sorry about your video connection issues. This is usually a symptom of slower internet connections. It may help to pause the video for a bit and allow it to load some before watching.

  21. Betty Phillippi

    OMG, I love this farm. Although I support and admire vegans and their principles, I do not believe it is a realistic goal for the majority, at least at this time. So I do strongly support a goal of returning to “real” farming, as opposed to “factory” farming, and this dairy farm does it right, especially in its practice of letting the calves stay with their moms until they’re weaned. I thought this was a beautiful farm and a wonderful presentation.

  22. Kate Johansson

    Loved seeing how well-cared-for the animals are. But…..I thought there was going to be a discussion about healing the soil and the methods they used. What happened to (Jason?) the tropical greenhouse guy? Is there a part two to this discussion? Are they using the same methods for healing the soil as the soil carbon cowboys?

  23. Susan Harris

    I loved seeing the farm and the part on how to make butter. However, I expect more information on actual farming based upon the title of this talk. What are the secrets? I would have loved to know how to do things on a much smaller scale; for someone living in suburbia.

  24. Bonnie

    We need to be able to get raw milk. It is so deficit to find, and the far you are afraid to sell it because of all the laws.
    Thank you for sharing this info. I am so grateful to have this opportunity!

  25. Brian Gross

    Letting cows self medicate on minerals seems strange to me, but what do I know? But if that is how you heal the soil why not just spread the minerals directly on the soil? A soil analysis might be a little more scientific, don’t you think?

  26. Jim Dorchak

    Here in Chile (in the south where we live) there is a lot of big dairy. We have pigs, sheep, all types of fowl as well a a good green house and veggie production.
    I raised beef cows for 25 years in South Carolina but have little knowledge in Dairy. Can you explain a little more about the “Calf on” approach and milking times please?
    Jim in Chile

  27. Sue Scaccia

    Lots of good information here. Nice presentation too. I think it’s awesome that the cows get to choose what their bodies need. I believe that left to their own devices, most domestic animals (given good choices) would find what is best for themselves. Except goats, I understand that they’ll eat anything 🙂

  28. Jacqui

    Another good one that brings back so many memories. We had a small family farm years ago. We milked our cows by hand and made our own butter, and buttermilk, kefir etc. Lots of work but lots of fun and tasted oh so good.

  29. Pam

    This was a very interesting segment for this “hope to homestead soon” viewer. Wish I had a full segment from Brook and Rose on all the topics addressed here and many other aspects that were just mentioned.

  30. Karen Dahl

    I’m based in Canberra Australia. I’ve just finished studying Holistic Management and I feel very comfortable about how you care for your cows and how they care for you. It is a good symbiosis. I will try making butter by jumping on the trampoline. Hopefully I’ll be able to convince my family and friends to join me. So thankful for your international broadcast, Karen

  31. Alaina

    I LOVED that this was an actual VIDEO and not just audio/slides. Thank you for all the work in putting this together. It was nice to SEE things and get a better idea of how to take these tips and start using some for a small backyard garden.

  32. Jean Schumer

    Always great tips to pick up when making compost, kefir and butter. Enjoyed seeing the cows get milked and how important they are in building soil. Wonderful to know that milking them just once a day extends their life and how nice to see them with their calves. Great presentation! Thanks.

  33. Richard Barrett

    If you have one cow or 100 to milk, please go to to produce the safest raw milk possible. To see farmers that are Certified by RAWM go to the site and click on ‘Farmers’ at the top. If you are in Canada, go to If you got questions, send them to . If you want to learn from the Alberta Milk (store milk) click on ‘Ask A Dairy Farmer’ when you get to the site. Only the Organic farms do not feed GMO’s, unless they are not in the Quota System in Canada, then it is illegal.

  34. marcy

    Thank you for a beautiful presentation

  35. Sandy

    I made butter once from raw cream in a mason jar. It was fun once, took a lot of shaking, did not know about washing it. Gobbled it up in alternate spoonfuls with my husband right after it separated. Get for some reason a rash from cultured butter and feel fortunate that there is a grass fed milk coop in our area that produces excellent sweet cream butter. We make kefir daily from pasteurized organic milk. Have found it a great ally in keeping dysbiosis at bay and for slowly pulling heavy metals out of my system. It is too cool in our kitchen in winter for culturing at room temperature. Still experimenting with supplementary heat sources, this winter’s method is a heating pad in an insulated bucket with a thermal controller and a loose fitting lid. Gotta say, my kefir grains do not look so glossy and firm as Rose’s. We are studying on what we would need to do to pasture raise livestock on land that is mostly wooded, sloped and rocky. I know bio-dynamic techniques can do wonders for soil, suspect it is more complex than just rotating pasture.

  36. Paul

    No offence to the presenters, but some offense to M.E.N… Way to hype and not deliver! Nothing about salting butter, kneading it to remove all that liquid hiding inside, it was less information than anyone could get from any cookbook… There was no demo on the milking machine, no mention of what it takes to clean and sanitize it, only a guy turning it on and attaching the nozzles to the teats. There really wasn’t anything but a gloss over, basic intro to everything mentioned. I am so glad I didn’t pay for this, and you should seriously consider refunding those that did. Out of all the presentations for day 1, there is nothing that anyone could possibly need future access to (yes, I watched them all). This was a big hit to your credibility and ability to deliver. I expected way more from M.E.N., perhaps some semblance of journalistic integrity. Or has journalistic integrity become an oxymoron in modern times? There is already a ton of hokum, dishonesty, and most-information in all things organic and holistic, and people are constantly searching for trustworthy sources to help them navigate the quagmire. Kudos on blowing that trust. At some point in the near future, when you are out job hunting, perhaps you can think back on this time and all the other times you burned your customer base and realise that it was you and your team that kept shooting yourselves in the foot.

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