A Maryland dairy farm family has recently become a milk processor providing home delivery in an attempt to maintain the viability of its 200-acre farm.

Randy Sowers and his family offer farm-fresh milk delivered to the doorsteps of about 1,600 homes in parts of Maryland, Washington and Virginia. It is thought to be the only licensed dairy operation in the state providing home delivery of milk.

A half-gallon bottle of its South Mountain whole milk in a glass bottle, with cream on the top, sells for $2.29.

"We offer a different product," Sowers told the Baltimore Sun. "Our milk comes from the cow, is processed and can be on a customer's front porch in 12 hours. It's not normally more than 24 hours."

The Sowerses moved into home delivery of milk and opened a store in 2001. The state was losing about 35 dairy farms a year when the family stopped wholesaling their milk to a cooperative in favor of selling directly to the public.

The family invested $790,000 in their processing plant.

"We only had 14 customers when we started," said Ben Sowers, Randy's son. "We made deliveries in our Ford Explorer. We put a cooler in the back. Most of the customers were in Frederick, 10 miles away." Today the creamery has nine trucks on the road delivering its milk and a full line of outsourced dairy, egg and meat products.