Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dairy Farm Field Trip

The Thursday before Thanksgiving we went on a field trip to a local raw milk dairy farm and a local general store. Three other families from our homeschool group joined us. Superman took the morning off as well as his dad Papa-rotzzi (our photographer). What a great time we had! Our first stop was the dairy farm. The setting was picture perfect. We had to cross over a brook by way of covered bridge, then up a little hill to the most beautiful pastures and the happiest looking cows I've ever seen. The Jersey cows seemed glad to see us as we gathered our group (bundled up for winter) in front of the owners house - Mavis. Before the farm tour, Mavis took us to a small building with a kitchen in it. This is where the milk is cooled and stored.Butter making was on the agenda after an informative lesson on the benefits of raw milk.
Mavis explained that the cream is skimmed from the milk and then cooled to 60 degrees. She used an antique electronic butter maker while the children were handed baby food jars of cream to shake and make butter by hand. It didn't take long for either method to get the cream to start to clot together. The clotted cream is then gathered together by hand leaving the buttermilk behind for use in baking. Now is when it starts to resemble butter. The butter gets rinsed off under a faucet and then its done. Superman looked at the big ball of butter and said "It can't be butter, it's the wrong shape"! A country boy he is not. We all got to sample the butter and it was soooo yummy!

The next stop for us was the milking room where the milking procedure was explained. Cows are really smart. Mavis told us that each cow knows where their station is to be milked and she will stand there and wait for her turn. The equipment is washed and disinfected each time as well as the cows utters before and after the milking process. They go way beyond what conventional farms do as far as cleanliness. I was very impressed.

After we said goodbye to the cows, Superman and Papa-rotzzi had to go to work but the rest of us piled into the vehicles and headed to the local general store not far from the farm. Julie and Rob are the owners. I had no idea the kids were in for such a treat. There is also a small farm at the store, and Rob had a hay ride set up for the kids that took them up to the animals. He broke the kids down into groups and had farm chores for them to do. He is...very energetic....the kids ATE IT UP! He was giving orders and they were doing what they were told (where is he during school hours?). There were buckets of eggs being collected, hay bales being tossed and animals being fed - WOW. Then the real show began. You may have heard of 'the horse whisperer' or the 'dog whisperer', but they've got nothing against this guy. The llama - Nina was a little alarmed by the kids coming at her. Rob taught them about Nina and what her job is on the farm. Then he took Einstein - a nubian goat out of the pen. This demonstration of a relationship between man and beast was amazing. He's taught the goat to do what goats do - rear up and ram things - however...the goat aims right for Rob who catches the horns in his hands, but the goat (who we were told moved the side of the barn by ramming it) seems to know not to hurt Rob. My description of this act can't really do it justice.

The candy counter in the store was the last stop. Julie has the store stocked beautifully with foods as well as gifty kinds of things. We purchased some cider and snacks for the road and said our goodbyes.

A special 'thank you' to the familes that joined us. It was a pleasure spending time with you! I encourage others from our homeschool group to contact me for information on scheduling your own field trip to these farms.
- Wonderwoman