Happy Cow Creamery’s president, Tom Trantham, received the Order of the Palmetto from Gov. Henry McMaster on Saturday, Feb. 21, in honor of his work rallying state and national officials to aid South Carolina during the 1986 drought.
During the 1986 drought, Tom Trantham helped organize supplies through what would be known as Operation Haylift where hay from other farms across the U.S. was sent to struggling farms in the South whose livestock and crops were suffering. The damage from the intense heat that summer caused almost 50 deaths and more than $1 billion in losses for farmers, according to media reports at the time.
“I can’t believe this is taking place. God is good,” Tom Trantham said to the crowd at the ceremony before telling those in attendance to make sure they grab some ice cream and cake that was provided.
He bought what would become Happy Cow in 1978 after raising replacement cows for other dairy farms in Asheville. He ran the dairy farm and became one of the state’s top dairy farmers, according to local media.
His son, Tom Trantham III, says, “We moved here and started just as a regular, conventional dairy farm — was very successful, one of the top producers in the state month after month.”
Tom Trantham III adds that it was his father’s innovation that led to a new grazing program at the farm. That program led to better quality milk, and instead of producing milk for others, the Tranthams began producing the milk for themselves. Happy Cow Creamery was born in 2002.
Happy Cow carries whole milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk and strawberry milk — it also sells eggnog seasonally.
Besides the milks they offer, Happy Cow sells produce, butter and other items from Wisconsin cheeses to locally-made elderberry syrup.
“We always try to make sure if somebody is going to drive all the way out here to Pelzer or down this dirt driveway to our store, we want to make sure that there’s something there that’s better than they can then they can get anywhere else,” Tom Trantham III says.
Happy Cow also provides educational tours for various age groups. Tours can be organized through Happy Cow’s website.
There’s more to come, says Tom Trantham III, not divulging what that upcoming announcement might be.
“We have some growth coming in the future where we’re not ready to really go into that too much yet,” he says. “But we always want to be known as a local dairy that provides fresh, quality products to our customers with excellent customer service at a good value.”