Last Sunday, with our friends the Breaults, we drove out to Carlton Family Farms, the place that grows the cows that make the milk that we drink. They also grow the chickens that lay the eggs that we eat. They have a pumpkin patch, too. And a corn maze. That day, it was about 80 degrees out and sunny. The corn maze, it turned out, was a poor choice. The sisters Drueke whined and whined. I considered leaving them there.
The hay ride, however, was worth the wait. The farm really is family owned, and has been since it was established way back in 1919. It's been a dairy farm since 1946. They have 40 cows, each of whom are milked twice a day, every day, all year round. The cows spend their days out in the pasture, munching on grass. They aren't fed anything else, especially not hormones, antibiotics or swill. Am I sounding preachy? Sorry. So anyway, the farmers hook a very long flatbed onto a big ol' tractor. The flatbed is fitted with benches all the way down the center, and a nice rain and sun-blocking pavilion-style roof. The floor is covered with a foot or so of hay.
The farmers drove the lot of us out to the cow pasture and the cows recognized us as the portable hay buffet. They sauntered up to the trailer and we all fed them hay. Sarah got a loving, wet kiss from one of the cows. The kids loved it, and as a city girl, I found it thrilling (yes, thrilling) to get to feed the same cows the make the milk we drink. The bovine ladies were also very receptive to some rubbing on the forehead. Among the herd out in the field, Kate spotted one Holstein and declared from the diaphragm "Hey, I see a real cow!" I sighed when I realized all the kids considered the black and white cow the real one, because she looked like the Chick-fil-A cow.
When we exited the hayride, we went directly to the little barn where the baby animals live. They had pink piglets, 2-day old calves, turkeys (those weren't babies, they looked big enough to be concerned about the upcoming holiday season...) and Kate's favorite, the chicks. She was captivated by them. Sarah seemed to favor the pigs.
They'd once done a stint as a commercial dairy, the Carltons, but it wasn't for them. That left them with a large grain silo they no longer used. They were planning to tear it down, but the neighbors protested, stating they would have no way of directing visitors to their houses if the "big silo" disappeared. So, the cut a door-shaped hole in the bottom, connected it to a small building and made it a little store where we bought some eggs and milk, and then wandered around in the empty silo. Trying to imagine it full of corn was amazing. I mean, that's a lot of grain, right there.
Then it was off to the playground, with it's mini-hay bale maze, big slide made of the stuff that's used for drainage pipes (rubber, not metal) and a lot of chickens just waiting for us to feed them. Those birds never seemed to fill up. Finally, a place where the attitude is - Yes, Fat Chicks! After all that excitement, we were tired. It was time to make the hour long drive home. We wearily loaded the children into the car and realized.... we never picked out pumpkins. Ah, forget it, we'll get them at the grocery store.
See that one gap in Kate's teeth? Now there are two! The day after our farm visit, the tooth to the right of the gap, finally fell out, at school. This time, she kept it long enough for the Tooth Fairy to come buy it. That left the Tooth Fairy wondering to herself "what do I do with these teeth?" After she overcame that initial sweetness of her child's baby tooth, she realized it was kind of gross.