If you didn’t read yesterday, click here to catch up what led up to today.
We woke up bright and early Friday morning (by summer standards, anyway) to get ready for our trip to Kleinpeter Dairy Farms. My friend, Virginia, graciously offered to drive. So, we stuffed our five kids (and snacks! Thanks, V) into her car and headed out. The ride was fine but, just as I promised Mike (the Farm Manager) in my email Thursday, we did manage to get lost along the way. After calling to apologize for our delay and adding an extra 45 minutes to the trip, we arrived at the farm where Mike was outside waiting for us.
With our warm Southern summer now underway, we were more than delighted to pile into a big (air conditioned!) pick-up truck to navigate the 1,200 acres that serve as the home for more than 1,300 cows (Holstein, Jersey and Guernsey). Mike showed us the process of preparing the many different kinds of feed (all corn-based) given to their cows. There’s even a nutritionist on hand to help determine the best diet for each individual animal.
Hello? I could use some help around here, too. Or at least someone to slap the Cheetos out of my hand.
My girl managed to smuggle a little of the feed (I think it was the variety that actually smelled like distilled whiskey) home to the family cat. But the jerky furbag (not surprisingly) turned up his nose to my sweet child’s offering. A gerbil would’ve appreciated it, Milo. Always remember that you can easily be replaced.
And, of course, we saw lots … and lots … and lots of healthy cows with the sweet Puss ‘n’ Boots eyes. But the big highlight of the day was visiting the babies. They’re organized by age in what I’m stupidly going to call the cow nursery. My girl fell in love with a cute set of twins born early this week. But I was there to see a special cow named Michele. She was born on May 8 (Virginia’s birthday, by the way) meaning she was grouped with all the other one-month-olds. So, I walked down the aisle checking out every calf and reading every tag. Cow face … cow face … cow face … cow butt … cow face … cow face … cow face.
Michele was the only one who INSISTED on standing backwards in her little stall.
Mike turned her around so we could snap a few pictures but, as soon as she was able, she reversed herself right back to her position of nonconformity. Michele seemed to vacillate between wanting to be different from the other cows and wanting to take a nap. (I’m sure my friends and family will have a veritable field day with that one.)
Does anyone else hear ‘We Are the World’ in their head right now?
I think she liked me because she ate a little of my hair during this picture.
The kids had a blast with all the babies. We probably spent the most time on this leg of the tour. Then … after learning a little more about the whole milking process … WE GOT TO MILK THE COWS! Thankfully, there were rubber gloves involved ’cause it took some real doing to get the job done. And, as a woman who spent four years of her life nursing kids (where’s TIME Magazine when you need ‘em?), my heart went out for these old girls, many of whom produce milk for well over a DECADE. And … get this … the average cow produces 60 pounds of milk PER DAY. That’s EIGHT gallons of milk daily.
Frankly, I can’t believe Dave and I have been wasting our money sinking it into college funds and IRAs … when we could just invest in a cow. I could sell to the whole freakin’ neighborhood! Of course, I could never compete with the good people at Kleinpeter. (Brag Alert – They were the first agricultural enterprise in the nation to earn a perfect score of 100 from the American Humane Association. They’re also the first organization who have been able to manage that same perfection for four years running.) To cover the cost of her maintenance, a cow kept at MY house would probably have to give rides to all the neighborhood kids while wearing a tutu and lipstick … so maybe I need to rethink the whole cow-in-the-backyard-next-to-the-trampoline thing.
Anyway, we had a great time, we learned a lot and we all gorged ourselves on fresh, 36-degree (the perfect temperature for milk, say the experts) milk, both chocolate and vitamin D. Thanks, Mr. K. Mike did a phenomenal job with us yesterday. We all left knowing way more about cows, milk and everything in between than we ever expected.