I had the great pleasure of attending Farm Chore Time at My Dad and Me Family Farm. I've been a member of The Farm since spring of 2009 and will continue to patronize and support this amazing resource until we move to Virginia (we set a date but more on that later.)
Farm Chore Time is an extensive and interactive behind the scenes tour. A small group of us got our hands dirty and learned so much from the Hammond Family. The tour was led by Tina, who is married to David, the son of Daniel (Dad) and Susan, all of whom participated in some way along the tour.
Tina gave us a big jug full of fresh golden cream that we all got to take turns shaking along the way at the start of the tour. After a while the jug was full of butter which we'd get to eat at the end of the tour.
We started off by meeting the new calves who will join the ranks of the milk cows when they grown and have calves of of their own. We'll be feeding these babies later!
We then met the diary cows, all of whom are Jersey cows, which give the very best milk.
They are all named and loved and well cared for because loved cows give more milk. These cows graze on a chemical-free green pasture and drink 15-25 gallons of clean water a day.
We all had chance to groom and pet one of the lovely milking cows.
And then it was time for milking. The farm has two milking stations where each cow offers up, if I remember correctly, three and half gallons a day (I should have taken notes and my memory is a bit sketchy.) They are milked twice a day.
Dad Daniel cleans the udders with warm, soapy water and expresses some milk into a bowl to check the health of it and then the machine does the rest of the work. We each had a turn hand-milking Maggie. It was neat trick getting on and off that little stool.
Mom Susan works in the "clean room" where she processes the freshly-squeezed milk. She filters it into sanitized stainless jugs and quickly chills it down to ensure lasting freshness. And that's it. No heating to destroy all the vitamins, enzymes and healthy natural flora, no adding synthetic vitamins to artificially fortify it. No breaking the molecules to homogenize it. This is real milk as nature intended with 100% transparency. All are welcome!
We met some bunnies which are sold as fryers. Eating Rob's kin-folk doesn't appeal to me. They are just too cute to eat.
Then we "slopped the hog." Which basically means to fill her bucket with delicious whey.
Then it was on to the hen house. We gathered eggs, fed the hens, cleaned the bunny cages and got to see Tina in action collecting a rooster in a bag. A man came by looking to buy a rooster. Tina got a hook, a net and a burlap sack and had that thing in her arms in a minute. I wanted to run in the other direction. I love the eggs but I'm not a big fan of the chickens.
They've got a few turkeys, too.
And if the Mama Turkey sits on her eggs, we may be able to have a pastured, local turkey for Thanksgiving.
These chicks are going to be the next generation of egg layers.
Now it's time to feed the calves!
Powerful suck on these babies. They reminded me of Tally, especially this little girl...
We spent a bit of time learning about the broiler chickens, which you can read more about here.
Our last stop on the tour was back in the clean room where we got to see Susan process the butter we churned at the start of the tour. She strained out the butter from the churn buttermilk (which is different from cultured buttermilk.)
Then she "beat" the butter to remove any excess water. She kneaded the butter in cold water changing the water several times until the water was clear.
Then she seasoned the butter with Real Salt...
and served it to us spread on homemade whole wheat bread along with a sample of the warm milk we helped "squeeze."
Udderly delicious and nutritious! The golden color comes from the beta-carotene in the grass that the cows graze on. Milk and butter should be golden yellow, NOT white. The fat in grass fed butter and cream is highly nutritious, without it our bodies cannot absorb the calcium or vitamins A, D and K in the milk. We have been lied to time and again that butter and cream are the enemy and that pasteurized fat-free dairy is healthy.
There was a farm trivia contest at the end of the tour which I won and took home this lemon balm plant as the prize. It looks a little sad here but it's in the kitchen garden now looking all lush and green.
It was a great day and if you are local to the Cobb County, GA area, I highly recommend taking part in Farm Chore Time. Many thanks to the Hammonds for offering such a fantastic experience!