With the cows on a winter day.

A cup of tea with Farmer Betty, that was all that Pippin asked for. Instead, five of us drank cups of the freshest milk at the close of a dairy-rich afternoon.

Nearly twenty years ago (we all pinch ourselves here to be sure this is real) Pippin worked on this dairy for a summer, and the intimate and intense dailiness on her part joined with the great hearts of all three current generations of the farmers to create a bond with our whole family.

Betty gave us a very hands-on tour and let the children help bring the cows into the barn for milking, carry dry feed and milk to heifers and calves, pet the cows who were okay with that, and peer into the giant tank to watch milk come straight from the milking machines through a cooling device.

This farm is not too far from the ocean, and when rains are heavy the tides affect the creeks on the property. The pasture was flooded only a few days previous, so we definitely needed our mud boots. Everyone except me had rubber muck boots, but my solid Vasque hikers worked well, and were easily sprayed off before we entered the milking parlor. All the kids enjoyed testing the feel of their boots in the varying muckiness of the terrain.

I liked the cow dog Lady, who looked just like a pet we had when I was a teenager; she liked to snuggle up to me. We heard from the other family farmers that she is affectionate with them, but only responds to Farmer Betty’s commands as to herding the cows.

Unlike the milk that the calves drank from buckets and bottle, what we got in cups had already been brought to a cool temperature; it wouldn’t be further processed until it reached the creamery. I hadn’t drunk raw milk in many years and it tasted pure and wholesome. Betty asked the children if they could taste alfalfa, or clover maybe? Or floodwaters? 😉

These farmers can still remember the old days when the milk warm from the cows would flow over exposed metal pipes containing freon, for quick cooling. When everyone went to fully contained conduits for more sanitary transport, the taste of the milk changed because it was not ever allowed to “breathe.”

I was soaking up the whole delicious atmosphere of the place; it will likely be a long time before I experience a milking parlor, with its aromatic mix of disinfectant and sweet milk, or a pasture wet with spring grass and manure. The air was chill, and our feet numb in the wintry mud. As we were getting in the car to go home Lady was still at the ready, and over the cow barns a full moon was rising.

7 thoughts on “With the cows on a winter day.

  1. I still remember how mud and muck sucked my boots and if I wasn’t careful my boots stayed behind when I took a step and my foot went right into the mud. What a great experience for the youngsters
    ( and everyone else as well).

    PS Do you have any idea why I have to fill in all the details every time I want to post a comment? This is only happening recently.

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  2. My husband grew up milking a small herd of cows with his dad, by hand. I think they had 12 or so. Then they would filter it, bottle it, and deliver it from door to door in a wagon behind a horse. Yeah. I’m not that old, but since Bob was 14 years older than me, he got to experience the olden days, lol.

    We had cows, goats, chickens, horses,etc. of varying amounts all through our years of marriage. Bob couldn’t be without them, though they never paid their own way. 🙂 I’m still not fond of muck, but I’m glad they made him happy, and my daughter thought it was heaven! Glad you had fun!

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  3. Lady looks just like Sasha. I will always want a Border Collie in my life. I miss cows. Seeing all of your pictures just makes me miss that kind of life so much. Well except for the mud.

    I love seeing the kids drink milk like that. I remember doing that too. Not to mention feeding the calves with bottles.

    I guess I have to settle for chickens. I am so glad you all got to visit. I have loved seeing all of the pictures you have posted. I guess you can never take the farm girl out of the farm girls.

    Have a wonderful day.

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  4. Aren’t you the blessed one to have such an experience! It almost seems like a foreign world to me…but I would love to go and visit a real dairy farm like this one. Sadly, in our state so many dairy farms struggle just to stay afloat…I love the photos too.

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  5. What a wonderful soul fortifying day to share! Daddy’s grandpa was a dairy farmer. I remember riding out to feed the cows with him. I was afraid of the cows because their eyes were so unreadable! It makes me smile to see your pictures and read about this adventure knowing that the little ones collected “good” memories!

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