December 29, 2008

Where's The Chocolate Milk Cow?

TGOO decided that during this trip my boys would visit a dairy farm and see where milk came from… originally, as opposed to Publix.

In their eyes, they go to Publix, buy their groceries. The end. There is no thought as to where all the food originated.

A few months ago he called the local County Extension Service asking for assistance in finding a dairy farm that might allow his grandsons to come watch a milking session.

Of the three dairies, one said yes.

After having met the people, I understand why. They were just an amazing family.

I pictured some large operation with a hundred head of cattle in a room with machines hooked all over and people shuffling cows in and shuffling them out.

I don’t think that’s the average dairy farm. What we saw today, was what is probably the norm.

They had 80 head of cattle, milking four at a time, twice a day, 2AM and 2PM. It takes three hours to milk all their cows.

We walked back into the milking area and there was one man, the sweetest man, who started milking cows when he was 12 years old, and he very openly talked us through everything.

He was as friendly, funny, and as kind as we could have asked for. I could have hugged him when he left.

He took the time to show us EVERYTHING, from how he took the cows into the stalls, explained how they were creatures of habit and some cows lined up first EVERY time, some cows preferred certain stalls and let you know they did not want to go into stall 4 because they preferred stall 2, disinfected the teats, hooked them up, talked about some cows that produced hundreds of pounds of milk a day while others were under producers and would be bred one more time to see if it improved or off to McDonald’s the cow would go, showed us where the milk went into the system, into the holding tank, when it would get picked up, how much milk a tank would hold, then he sat down and explained the entire process that occurred AFTER the milk got picked up… pasteurization etc.

It was absolutely FASCINATING.

I think we sat and watched 8 to 10 cows get milked. Honestly? I could have pulled up a chair and watched all day.

He even took the time to go out into the herd and show us their oldest cow… 18 years old.

Towards the end, as we were getting ready to go, Bones looked at the man, who was changing the milking machine off a cow, and said, “So, where does Lactaid come from?”

The man looked puzzled and looked at us.

Bones rephrased, “Where does the Skim Milk come from?” as he looked at all the cows.

It was funny. It was as if he thought, ‘That cow produces SKIM. THAT cow produces Whole. And that cow over there produces Lactaid’.

The milking man laughed and that’s when he explained the process outside of the farm.

I will say that after we left, the asexual Mom-mobile smelled very… earthy.

I suspect I’ll be one of a few who does this marathon in 2 weeks with running shoes that had to be hosed off due to cow poop.

Posted by Boudicca at December 29, 2008 11:11 PM | TrackBack

That's funny. Growing up on a farm and having grandparents who had a dairy it is funny to me that kids really have no idea where milk and food come from. I think you all need a trip to Iowa.

Posted by: Jody at December 30, 2008 09:08 AM

The joy of family farms. I grew up on one, but not a dairy. We just grew wheat and raised cattle. Dairy Farms are a whole lot different because of the twice a day milking.

Posted by: Tina at December 30, 2008 09:40 AM

A dear friend ran (until recently) a dairy but they produced and pasturized right there on site. They mixed chocolate milk there too. So I am totally laughing . . .

Posted by: oddybobo at December 30, 2008 09:54 AM

We used to visit family farms in Alabama when I was a kid in the '60s. I still remember what real butter tastes like, gathering eggs from the hens and watching them milk the cows, and how incredibly tasty ice-cold watermellon is on a hot summer day at the farm.
Your kids asking what cow Skim Milk came from cracked me up.

Posted by: George at December 30, 2008 09:55 AM

I nearly died laughing when I saw your title.

My dad always told us that white milk came from white cows, chocolate milk came from chocolate cows and the spotted cows gave skim milk.

So everytime I see a brown cow I have to yell out "look a chocolate milk cow".

Posted by: Quality Weenie at December 30, 2008 12:55 PM

That was cute....
...we drink 1% here at the house of Rave....when people come over and drink it, they get this funny look on their face because they are used to whole milk.

We cannot drink whole milk anymore- and the lactaid cow? well, I just can't go there yet either!

Did you know (and I think I am right but maybe someone will correct me) that humans are the only species that drink milk from another species and continue to do so after weening?

Posted by: Rave at December 30, 2008 02:38 PM

I want to know - who first came up with the bright idea of milking a cow? And how far did the cow kick him?

Posted by: PeggyU at December 30, 2008 02:52 PM

I'm telling you, if you don't have family that are farmers... kids are CLUELESS. We have a cousin who's a farmer in AL and I take the kids once a year, but its a different kind of farm than this. The Dairy farm was COOL. We're going to write thank you notes...

QW- I have to wonder what he was thinking during the process. I think the only reason he didn't ask about chocolate milk was because he saw the milk coming out white.... otherwise, all bets are off.

Rave- I can barely drink 1% and whole milk? Holy crap, I might as well be drinking heavy cream. We buy skim lactaid because I'm slightly lactose intolerant like Mr. T.

I think you're correct about the milk post weening thing. I do wonder how that happened.

And listening to him talk about what happens to milk after, makes me wonder why we bother, with all the separating, cooking, adding junk.

Peggy- I think it was a drunk teenage farm kid on a dare... "I bet you won't suck on that cow's teat!" :)

Posted by: Bou at December 30, 2008 10:55 PM

Bou: We had a "family" milk cow that Dad bought when Mom complained about the price of milk (this was during the Carter years). Said cow was intended to lower the milk bill and give us kids an "appreciation" for the work required to produce food. Krispy the Cow and us kids mutually "appreciated" each other. You never met such an animal! If a cow could intentionally curdle its own milk, this one would have done it. Foul-tempered Holstein Houdini ... very difficult to restrain. We engineered an elaborate Rube Goldbergesque cow immobilizing system out of baling twine and other assorted handy items. Even so, the majority of the time she managed to flick some contaminant into the milk bucket. We were loathe to dump it out because of the work involved in obtaining it, and because of the butt-kicking we would get for allowing it to happen. The demand for milk miraculously ebbed, since those of us at the supply end of the situation knew what went into it. Dad in blissful ignorance drank the milk ... don't know if it ever caused him any problems or not, but we figured he sort of brought it on himself if it did. If I suffer from osteoporosis in coming years, it will be because of the avoidance of all things dairy during the era of Krispy.

Posted by: PeggyU at December 31, 2008 02:22 AM

Growing up on a farm, I sometimes take for granted the knowledge we gained. It's funny... my 4 yr old nephew's teacher talked to the Perfect One last month. She was somewhat concerned that Layne didn't associate milk with a picture of a carton, but with a picture of a cow. She was concerned that he may be a little slow.

The Perfect One was pissed...

Posted by: T1G at December 31, 2008 10:49 AM

Interesting... on thinking back, I grew up in the suburbs. Never saw a cow except on the odd occasion of taking a long drive somewhere (if we happened to go past a farm).

I do not recall a time that I didn't know milk came from cows and that the cows had to be milked. Not that I thought about it - I just knew about it.

When I was in 4th grade, our class made butter. The teacher brought in a clear glass jar with a cap (this was way back in the day - plastic was not an opton), along with a container of cream from the store. She poured the cream into the container and the bottle was passed around the room while she talked about making butter. Everyone shook the bottle for about 2-3 minutes while they held it.

She told the class about how cream separates out and the remaining milk after making butter was skim milk, about cheese, etc. (I remember thinking that outside of the fun part in making the butter - it was a bit boring because I already knew this stuff - LOL - by that time though, I knew that the rest of the kids in the class probably didn't know anything about it until the teacher told them)

By the time the 30+ kids (yes in one class) had shaken the bottle - we had a lump of butter. We got to spread it on crackers and eat it.

Posted by: Teresa at December 31, 2008 01:54 PM

Even in my farming community, the city slickers have taken over. They move next to a dairy farm and then say, "Ewww. What's that smell?" It's good that you took your boys to a working farm. It's good to know where your food originates.

Posted by: Indiana Jerry at December 31, 2008 09:01 PM