I want my son to not just understand, but have the information tucked way down deep inside his DNA, that food does NOT come from a grocery store. It’s something that I strive to incorporate into our homeschooling, or as Squishy calls it “Adventure School”. Gardening and farmers markets have made their way into our everyday lives. The real treats are when we get to go on a farm tour or to a you-pick orchard. Which is an experience that is becoming harder and harder to find available. That is why we were so excited when the opportunity to visit the Organic Pastures Dairy came up. Not just a farm, but an up close and personal look at where milk comes from. And it was literally right down the street! Yay!!!
I have a confession to make…
I don’t exclusively buy organic food. I don’t seek it out in the grocery store, and I will pass it up for a better deal. I know! I am a horrible mom. The truth is, I know too many farmers and ranchers from all branches of the farming community to snub my nose at a carrot for how it was grown.Many of my friends rave of the benefits they see with organic products. I get it, I really do. It is just not my passion. I will tell you where my passion comes out, though, and what will stop me from putting a bag of apples in my cart. I buy local. Living in the heart of the worlds fruit basket, I buy what my neighbors are working night and day to produce. Weather it is organic, or traditional; I want to know that I am supporting the guy in line behind me at the bank, and I want him to know that his blood sweat and tears matter to me. If I am picking up some cilantro and the choice is between some grown in South America or a small organic farm in Northern California, you betcha I’m buying the organic bunch. It is just not something I seek out. I was looking forward to Squishy experiencing the cows and milk production at a LOCAL dairy. The organic aspect was more of an after thought for me.
You know that feeling when you walk into a store and you feel like you’ve met a long lost friend, then you stay a little bit longer and realize they are more like family? That is how it felt as soon as we pull up at the dairy. They may be big hitters in the Organic circle, but they are still a family farm. The owner had built what I would call a farm kid playground, for his grandchildren. Squishy made a bee line for the tractor tires as soon as he cleared the car door. Complete with tire swings and giant dirt holes to dig in;
I was so impressed with their whole operation. Just as clean and professional, I would almost say more than, a big co op dairy. When I learned about the hoops that they have to go through, just to stay in operation, I was even more impressed that they would open their doors to the community. FOR FREE! We were able to see the milk get bottled, and the big vats of cheese. (And their cheese was amazingly tasty by the way) Squishy was especially enamored with the giant tanker trailers.
And this was all before the big excitement began! Oh yes, there is more…
We left the clean and sterile processing area, and loaded on to the big blue trailer.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. If you have ever been within 30 miles of a dairy farm you know the smell I was expecting. As the tractor pulled us closer to the cows, I waited for it to invade my senses. I kept waiting. Even as we pulled up next to a pasture full of grazing cattle I waited. I am not saying there was no smell. It was just…different. I was waiting for that blast you in the face funk. The one that hits me every time I drive down the 41 towards the coast. This was just a fresh farm smell; heavy on the hay and cow sweat.
Our experience at the farm was beyond anything I could have imagined. Squish was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to hug a cow, but that was quickly forgotten when he met Ruby. Don’t tell Lollypop and Taffy, but I think it might have been love. The rumor I heard is; she mostly just hangs around the tour groups to get hugs from the kids, but she still keeps the title of a working dog. Squishy, and the rest the kids, quickly fell in love with this red headed beauty. I kind of got a crush on her myself. She was a doll! Everyone’s favorite part of the tour was at the end, though, when the staff presented us with a virtual picnic of yummy treats. Squishy, who normally insists that his milk must be heated to slightly more than room temperature (cozy) with chocolate, drank the Raw milk ice cold. I didn’t even have a chance to add the chocolate that they provided before he started gulping it down. You guys, that is a BIG deal for him! I had to agree with him. It was delicious. I was not expecting it to be so different than what I get at the store. It had a distinct flavor, clean, just slightly sweet and much creamier. They also served us cheese and the most tasty Kefir smoothies. Now, I had no idea what Kefir was. So I peppered the ever patient Jason with more questions. He explained that Kefir was processed from the left over skim milk after they extracted the cream. They add enzymes to the milk and ta-da, Kefir. It is basically a runny yogurt like drink, that has the most amazing pro-biotic properties. (Not to give to much TMI but I know at least two small children who are no longer constipated after drinking this stuff) Without being mixed with a smoothie, because I had to try it <research> , it has a pretty tart flavor. Squishy was calling it spicy milk. I would say it is more like a cross between Greek yogurt and buttermilk.
Our tour ended were it began. The kids all raced over to the play yard as soon as they were done with their snacks. It was the perfect adventure day.
We did not receive any compensation from Organic Pastures for this post, other than the free tour that is offered to all their neighbors. After meeting the owners (oh yeah they came out to chat with us!) and seeing the heart inside their business I will seek out their products. I would encourage all of my readers to visit their site and learn more. I am including some affiliated Amazon links below to the “learning material” we used in conjunction with our trip. We do receive a very small commission if you purchase from our links, at no extra cost to you. Just click on the pictures to learn more.