Tuesday the kiddos and I went to Pineland Farms for a butter-making workshop. Because, really, why wouldn’t we go meet cows, milk them, and then make butter to take home? We also got to take a trolley to the cow barn, which was a fun surprise. Except when the clueless 11-year-old knocked Zuzu down while looking for a seat (looking for a seat in an almost-empty trolley, mind you) and caused some sort of post-traumatic trolley trauma for Zu, who then screamed every time we got back on.
I was concerned that the cows were all penned up, but it turns out they’re usually free to roam the fields a bit more, just not on hot days. They get stressed in the heat and produce less milk (side note: I actually think this is happening to me as well right now). So when it’s hot, the cows are inside with giant fans and lots of hose-downs. Interesting cow fact: their favorite temperature is 40 degrees (Fahrenheit).
The cows may have been cooling off, but the rest of us were melting.
We also got to meet some baby cows. This one is younger than Ramona! I think I had my own personal cow-related trauma when our teacher person was describing how the cows (who also have a nine-month gestation) get pregnant, have a calf, and then three months later get pregnant again. So glad I’m not a dairy cow.
Another interesting cow fact: different breeds have much different milk. Holsteins are “quantity” cows who make 10 gallons of milk a day, which doesn’t have much butterfat. Jersey cows produce more like 4 gallons of milk a day, but it’s much higher in butterfat. And those daily quantities — 10 gallons for Holsteins and 4 gallons for Jerseys — are about what it takes to make a pound of butter. I think I probably would have known this if I’d thought about it (about different breeds producing different kinds of milk) but somehow in the cow-related frenzy of facts this all seemed fascinating to me.
Here’s Zuzu making some butter. I have to say that it went much faster than I expected. I thought it was going to be a 20-minute thing. But each family got a little plastic tub and a marble, and the four of us took turns shaking it, which made butter in about five minutes. They used Smiling Hill cream to make our butter, even though Pineland sells its milk to Hood. I’m assuming this is because Smiling Hill isn’t ultra-pasteurized, but it did seem a little odd to not use cream from the cows we’d just met. (We didn’t use the milk that the kids had just milked because it would have taken roughly 6 hours to get enough milk for butter, at the rate we were going.)
At the end, we all got to taste our butter on slices of cinnamon-raisin bread. I think Henry had 5 pieces of buttered bread (he’s a bit of a nut for cinnamon-raisin bread). The room we made butter in must be some kind of function room, but I kind of wanted the butter-making to be some place a little more, I don’t know, rustic. Farmy. This felt like we were making butter in a hotel lobby. It was air conditioned, at least.
I will say that I didn’t try the butter personally. I had decided on Monday to go off dairy for a while, because Ramona’s newborn acne seems to be getting worse, and I did some research, which seemed to indicate that a dairy allergy could be the culprit. So I gave up dairy, and then the next day took my family on Ironic Mega Dairy Adventure. And then the day after that called the doctor and spoke with a nurse who assured me that it sounds like Ramona’s skin is still totally normal, and not to worry about giving up dairy at this point. Though it’s probably best for me not to be shoving in the butter (or the cheese samples in the Pineland Market that the boys and Zuzu had 4,000 of), considering I’m still 25 pounds away from my Normal Wardrobe.
Little did he know that an over-zealous little sister would nosh on most of it while I was making dinner.**
*Henry had been eating cherries, which is why he has red spots all over his face.
**I am still getting the hang of this new camera. Can’t quite take great photos with it yet.
I don’t know if it’s Maine, or the crunchy little circle of friends I have, but everyone I know is deciding which farm camp to send their kids to, and which week, because you know if you do it early then they pick strawberries but later there are more other fruits and veggies and maybe more exciting things, and why not just pick a week in the middle? It’s all so much to debate.
So I think we’ve picked Broadturn Farm, mostly because the farmer was the midwife who delivered Henry, but also because they’ve got the best animals. Last Friday we went to get some straw to put down on our lawn after we seed it (and maybe after we do some kind of woodchuck relocation program because something is digging up our lawn like crazy). And the straw farm is right near Broadturn Farm, so we took a gander (ha!) on over to check it out.
Two boys, two lambs. All totally free range.
Hello, I’m a pig. Perhaps you remember me from one of your favorite movies.
The funniest part about the pigs was that the farm worker who directed us to them cautioned, “There’s an electric fence around their pen” and then added, “but it’s really low.” I made some joke about, “Oh, ok, so I’ll just toss the kids right over it then!” and he sort of looked at me oddly and said, “Yes.” I don’t know what the deal is with pigs, but the electric fence was seriously about four inches high. So, yes, I did just toss the kids right over it so we could get some close up pig lookin’.
I felt really sorry for this chicken. He was totally on his own, ostracized from all the others. What did he do wrong? Or maybe he just wanted some quiet time.
This little scene prompted Zuzu to spontaneously utter her first animal noise. “Ba-dawk!”
We were all quite taken with this big friendly dog, though I don’t know why he was penned in with cows and sheep. Maybe he is the watchdog. At any rate, he was enormous and very sweet.
Of course we went back to the lambs.
Some lovely indoor sheep that we discovered right before we left, mostly because one came out and yelled at us for being so close to her baby lambs. I’m still not convinced that mama sheep was real, as she sounded way too much like a human just saying, “Baaaa!”
And lo, the light did shine upon the sheep and the lambs, and call to them to lie in the hay and be wooly and regard the humans with great skepticism. And they did, and it was good.