I was asked by my friend Pamela if I wanted to go with her, and some friends, to Homeland Creamery.
Homeland Creamery is a local dairy out of Julian, NC. They use organic practices, but don't obtain the government seal of organic because they would have to leave their land untouched for 7 years. That would be pretty hard for them to do since they grow all of the food they feed their cows (just to ensure that nothing has been sprayed on it).
We started our adventure with a fun, but VERY chilly, hayride around the farm.
As you can see by the plethora of blankets that we were chilled. Pamela and her youngest daughter are a great example of how body heat provided a nice additional way to warm up.
We were showed the various pastures where they keep their milk, pregnant, "teenager" (ages 6-12 months), and 2 year old cows. In total there are 400 cows...man that is a lot.
We learned that the average life a milking cow is 16-18 years. After their milk wanes they are sent to a beef farm for slaughter. Apparently the dairy cow makes a better steak because it is a leaner meat.
It doesn't matter to me, I am still not going to eat them. Owen when he heard they were slaughtered for meat thought about giving up on meat altogether...I think it made him sad to connect a face to his meal.
The saddest fact I took from the tour was that a week after birth male babies are sold to beef farms. I realize they don't produce milk, and are thus not an asset to a dairy farm, but I feel very bad for them never getting to bond with their mother.
Upon the end of our ride we saw a baby calf, who the children were able to bottle feed if they wanted.
The calves have to be bottle fed because they aren't allowed to nurse from their mothers. Instead they are given formula so that the mother's milk can be stored for people...something just seems backwards to me.
The last part of the tour was a stop in the milk parlor. It was a little scary looking.
We ended our day with some ice cream, cake batter flavor. No matter how cold they were the kids were shaking and shivering, but they ate every last bit of the ice cream cup they had.
My children all thanked me for taking them on this field trip. I think they were truly excited to see how a dairy farm works and to see where their milk comes from...plus there was ice cream.
Thanks Pamela for asking me if wanted to come. It was a great experience to share.