Silva Family Dairy
Silva Family Dairy supplies us with 100% of our organic jersey cow milk. Bleating Heart's creamery is located in the same building as the dairy, so the milk only travels about 20 feet before reaching our cheese vat. The dairy was known as Marshall Home Ranch & Dairy when it first launched, and in 2014-2015 also supplied us with sheep milk. The union of the couple behind this rapidly growing dairy was born from a mutual love of the land, dairying, and each other. Read on to learn more....
The property on which our creamery is located, the Thornton Ranch, already had a rich dairy past long before we showed up in 2013. This land in West Marin was originally settled by the Marshall brothers, who left Ireland in 1852 to establish a dairy on their new "Home Ranch" property, milking Irish Shorthorn cows. The ranch name changed from Marshall to Thornton through marriage. The dairy was in operation for several generations, eventually moving from Shorthorns to Holsteins, until 4th generation patriarch Gordon Thornton passed away in 2001. The Thorntons continued to raise pasture-fed beef and lamb on the lush rolling hills of this historic coastal ranch, but sadly, the dairy had shuttered.
In 2014, 6th generation rancher Marissa Thornton, along with help from her father Gary Thornton, revitalized the family's old dairy on the bucolic 1,013 acre ranch. In the reincarnated dairy, jerseys are the cow breed of choice, along with a new addition - dairy sheep. Marissa named the dairy portion of the ranch "Marshall Home Ranch & Dairy" in honor of her Irish ancestors. It was the only dairy in California - probably in the nation - that milked both sheep and jersey cows side-by-side in the same facility.
Milking cows and sheep was a lot of work! When Marissa fell in love with neighboring dairy farmer Louis Silva and they had a baby girl, they decided the best path forward for their growing young family was to sell the sheep and focus on an organic jersey cow dairy. Much of the milk is sold to Bleating Heart Cheese, and since we are right next door in the same building as the dairy, the milk doesn't travel very far before we transform it into cheese. We were also delighted to have our cheeses - made from their cow milk - served at their wedding celebration in May 2017!