A New Direction for a Family Tradition
Wendell Crow is an imposing figure, and these days he’s putting his broad shoulders to good use, taking on the challenge of translating his passion and experience into a small, family-owned business in a dry economy.
Wendell and his wife Rhonda partnered with their daughter Mary and her husband Erik to start Crow’s Dairy in Buckeye, AZ where they make a variety of products from the milk of their large herd of purebred Nubian goats.
For the Crows, dairy has always been a family affair. Both Wendell and Rhonda grew up in dairy farming families. They met in high school and married in 1981 and both worked for Wendell’s father at his dairy located at 107th Avenue and Broadway in Tolleson. In 1992 the two purchased the farm from his father and produced cow’s milk there for another 14 years.
After selling that dairy in 2006, the Crows set their sights on making cheese. They spent the next few years traveling across the country exploring the world of artisanal cheese making. They also looked at buying a hunting lodge, a hair salon, commercial real estate and other types of businesses that would allow them a 9-5 lifestyle. As fate would have it, after many attempts to start a different type of business, the Crows decided to stick with what they knew best … Dairy farming. But this time would be different. The Crows decided to launch their new dairy with a herd of goats! The Crows were determined to change the public’s perception of goats and goat products. Wendell himself had to be convinced by Rhonda. Many years of being a “cow” dairyman made him a bit skeptical of this “new” type of dairy. He now loudly sings the praises of the goat after realizing how the milk handled makes a world of difference in the taste and quality of the products.
After reading many books, joining online groups and other types of research, Rhonda rounded out her education with a cheese course from California Polytechnic State University located in San Luis Obispo. Wendell, Rhonda, Erik & Mary then set out to find a place for their new business. What they found seemed to be waiting just for them in Buckeye, an area known as Rainbow Valley. In the midst of a sandy river basin, they found the home for the farmstead creamery. The property, as it turned out, had formerly been home to a cow dairy.
Since wrapping up their “cheese vacations” and settling into the new location, the Crow family has had their hands full keeping up with the demand for their product. “The challenge is getting just big enough, fast enough,” Wendell explains.
Currently Crow’s Dairy produces Grade A dairy products including milk, quark and a variety of cheeses including chèvre, feta and a wine marinated cheese using award-winning Arizona wines.
Thanks to Natalie Morris for this content.