by | Jul 8, 2010 | activities, Food | 5 comments

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.


  1. Christina

    This sounds like fun. I too had no idea about the different cows having different quantities of milk. I showed Zuzu’s picture to Nora and she said “she’s all grown up!” Eli looks like he’s a real cowboy with his cows in that first picture. Not so much in the “Embassy Suites” butter making room but that’s just the setting.
    We went through all sorts of issues with Nora having possible allergies as a newborn (she kept having blood in her stools which was obviously concerning) and I went through complicated diets trying to cut out everything and anything possibly irritating from my diet, but when we took her to the pediatric allergist he told us that there is no evidence for the mom’s diet really effecting anything. So I just ate everything and it seemed to be fine- the blood stopped and she doesn’t have any stomach or allergy issues now.

  2. Kate

    What a neat trip – wish we had something like that around here (maybe we do, I don’t know).

    About Ramona – Ian’s skin was a train wreck for what seemed like the longest time. He had awful baby acne and case after case of diaper rash that was hard to clear up. I never did change my diet but tried to use hypoallergenic soap thinking that having his face against my skin while nursing all the time could be the culprit. His skin eventually cleared but he wound up having a cow’s milk allergy that he has thankfully outgrown. Maybe there’s something to it and maybe it’s just coincidence.

  3. Julie

    Christina, that’s interesting, and good to know, about diet not affecting anything. And Kate, that’s good to know that Ramona’s not the only one with serious skin issues!

  4. Beth

    Julie, very cool field trip! When I see stuff like this I get seriously bummed about the fact that I can’t have dairy anymore. (Though trust me, I do cheat from time to time!) I love the Jersey vs. Holstein thing, which I did not know. I will give you a weird factoid about tea: All tea comes from the same plant–just different parts/leaves are used. Green tea comes from the leaves on top of the bush. You may have already known this, but somehow your cow trivia brought this out of the deep caffeinated recesses of my mind. Now I’m going to go make some tea (without milk) and drink it.

  5. clairefalatko

    You all were s o smart to make your own butter – it must hav been pretty good to bad you couldn’t make some cottage cheese. guess fancy cheese would take some time.
    I’ve been enjoying you worldofjulie and would love to respond.
    We received a delightful letter from Henry today good for him


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.