One of our days in Iowa was rather cow-filled.
Part of our stay at the Farmhouse B&B was being able to wander around the farm. The Engelbrecht’s rent their dairy barns and pasture to the Carr family who are getting established in the dairy business.
The milking area (parlor) reminded me of a ‘Jiffy Lube’ shop. The cows filed in to their slots. Harry worked from the pit, where he cleaned them up, attached the milking machine with all its tubes and ‘drained’ the milk, then he ‘lubed’ them with an ointment and sent them on their way.
These sweet little faces are the weanling calves… waiting for breakfast.
And this darling is “Hannah” – a one week old Brown Swiss. For a couple weeks the calves live in little ‘calf houses’ so they can have more attention before they are moved with the ‘big kids’.
“Good til the last drop!” When she finished her milk bucket, this little girl would throw it out of her pen.
Then we headed over to the Hawkeye Buffalo Ranch. Dan McFarland offers tours of his bison ranch. Once you arrive he tells you a bit about bison and their history. Then you load up into his tractor pulled wagon and head out to the pastures. It takes a bit to find them.
It had to imagine having to search for something this BIG. This is Victory, the herd bull. He weighs about a ton!
And he loves corn on the cob…the whole thing. He sounds like Darth Vador as he breathes
Himself fed one of the girls.
This cow is known as “Phyllis Diller” for her wild hair!
Our final bovine visit was to Hansen Dairy in Hudson.
They are a family run full process dairy – cow to bottle (or ice cream tub!). We participated in their “hands-on tour”, which was fantastic!
We started the tour visiting their mascot – the wallaby. I didn’t realize they were so soft.
We went from the milk processing area…
Out to the dairy barn where we met “The Girls”. This group is waiting to go into the milking parlor.
This is “The Boys”.
We got to try milking. As Jeanne explained how to do it, I realized it is the exact same hand action as piping frosting on a cake! I can do that… and was able to milk at my first try. Himself grew up with dairy cattle and of course was perfect at it.
Then we went over and bottle fed some babies. This was my little girl saying, “FEED ME!!!!!”
After our tour we had a milk tasting. This dairy does not homogenize (break down the milk fat) the milk, so the cream will rise to the top. It makes a much tastier milk… the skim tastes as good as 2%.
As Jeanne explained various things about the dairy industry, she had us shaking a little jar of cream. In less than 10 minutes there was a nice little lump of butter. We rinsed it, added a bit of salt and had it on some crackers. Mmmmmmm…
The final part of our tour was seeing how they use the waste from the cattle to fertilize their fields. All the manure is collected in a liquid ‘pit’ and twice a year it put out on the fields. They have a system that connects a LONG (1200’) hose from the pit to the tractor which drags it along as it plows.
The hose to the tractor is connected to other hoses at the back of each plow blade, so the liquid goes directly into the ground as they plow.
By the time we finished with our tour, the sun was setting. I quickly made a few purchases at their farm store of some whole milk (what a treat!), cream for our morning teas, butter and a package of fresh cheese curds. Jeanne added an individual size container of their vanilla and raspberry ice cream as a treat. Thanks Jeanne!!! It was delicious!!