Wednesday, September 3, 2008


This weekend, we took a trip an hour and 45 minutes north of the city and visited Fair Oaks Dairy Farm. We headed out of town around 9:00 am and arrived early for the first tour at 10:00 am. No, we didn't drive THAT fast, the time zone changes once we get closer to Chicago. Yes, I know, it is still funky that Indiana has a couple of different time zones within the state. I'm just glad we have stayed on Eastern time. Until of course, I get tired of it being still sunny at 9:30 pm in the summer. I'm digressing....

Anywhoooo - we arrived and the kids played in the Adventure area while we waited for our bus tour to start. We also had time to watch a 3-D movie about the farm, complete with glasses and spray holes in the seats, like Disney, which sent Olivia into hysterics when she was sprayed with water and a shot of air. Lovely.

Come along on my photo journey... you will be jealous that you didn't get to go with us.
Remember, you can click on any photo to enlarge it!

This is Carter playing around with the giant cow display, which teaches one the process of how to properly milk a cow. Complete with a timing device that lets you discover the length of time it takes you to figure out how much you are NOT a farmer.

Here we are pulling up in the bus that took us about 5 minutes across the farm to the dairy barns. That very long building is just one of the several set-ups they have on the farm where the cows are allowed to free-roam in their stalls to eat, drink and be merry.

Here is a shot of some infant cows that are lined up outside of the Mommy stalls. You can see in the background, one of the areas explained above. These cows were so darn cute you just wanted jump out and give them a head scratch!

Here we have a shot of the feed silos. This farm grows all their feed for the animals, stores it and processes it into fine dining for the dairy cows. It is amazing how everything works off the farm by using renewable resources to power all of the different buildings. I spared you the pictures of the sludge ponds where the manure is kept, recycled into gas and used for fuel and fertilizer. Pee-ew!

Here we have an enormous mountain of grain being kept under special covers, sort of like a compost pile, with rubber rings holding the covering down. This is where they get the food to feed the animals. Large tractors and bulldozers were hauling feed to the barns, as well as continuing the processes of harvesting the corn from the fields, filling silos and chopping up the goods.

Here's where the action gets amazing! The picture is not that great which disappoints me, but if you can imagine trying to balance a toddler that wants to get down, beads of sweat dripping from my brow from trying to keep her quiet and my son from weaving in and out of the crowds, then you'll understand why there is only one picture here, and it looks like this.

Anyway, this is the milking building. If you look at the picture near the top, you'll see gobs of cows coming down a hallway of sorts. That is outside of one of the free-roam stalls. The cows know to walk themselves down this row and get into line. Where you see the highlighted circle, is where the cows enter this turning circle. There are probably 100 cows in this motorized pez dispenser as I liken it to. Each cow gets on when there is an empty space, a farmhand puts on the hoses to milk the cow and the cow takes a spin in this carousel. Once it makes a complete circle, another farmhand takes off the hoses, dips each teat into a antibacterial solution and the cow backs out of its spot off of the twirl and heads back to the barn. I was so impressed that these animals knew just what to do without their parents having to tell them 5 times to do it. I kept telling that to my son. Maybe if I branded his date-of-birth on his hind quarters he'd know I mean business. Or send him to live on a farm. That might do it.... anyway...

This photo was taken in the Birthing Center. There is a building that is just for pregnant cows ready to give birth. Complete with two birthing rooms on view for all of us to see. There was staggered seating that went at an incline so that you could choose to either sit up high and watch the birthing process, or stand down below at eye level and behold the power of fresh baby-goo. Here is Mama Milker licking her newborn. There were 2 babies born while we were sitting in there. My kids only cooperated long enough to watch the first one finally get up and stand. The second birth was witnesses by my parents who stayed inside while we took Carter to go let go of some energy. I'm glad we didn't see the second birth though because it was apparently pretty graphic. The last part we watched was the Mama struggling to get the calf out, with only the baby's legs sticking out for over a half hour. We saw the light turn green outside (which meant a baby was born) and found out that the Vet had to pull the calf out of the mother. First she used her hands and some straps, and apparently that was not working. So they had to use another contraption and with all their might, they pulled the calf from Mama and all was well. I'm glad I didn't have to explain that to my kids! By the way, approx. 80 calves are born at this farm a day. Pretty cool to be able to witness that anytime you visit!

Here's just a cute shot (and the only one I remembered to take!) of the kids before heading back to the Cafe to enjoy some of the best ice cream we've ever had!

Does this need explaining? Mmmmm, chocolate! She's all, get the camera out of my face woman and feed me more chocolate before my eyes beam you with my burning lasers!

We need one of these bouncy things permanently installed in our backyard. I wonder if the neighborhood Homeowner's Association would approve it? Man, he loved this!

Carter's first time climbing a rock wall. He's always been too apprehensive to do it, so we were very proud of him for getting up there and ringing the bell on his first try!

Olivia being cute - wearing Grampy's hat...

Heading back home after a long long day at The Farm. Always nice to see a familiar exit sign!



Wendy said...

Andrea - that places looks like a lot of fun - we have something sort of like that here about 40 minutes away but on a smaller scale but the cows give birth, get milked etc., but not that many at once and births are not daily. LOL But to keep a dairy farm going you have to keep the births coming. :O) Glad the kids and you enjoyed your day and it was fun to experience it with you!!!

JoEllen said...

Hey went right past my parents house on the way there! We went there 2 years ago. It is amazing!! Cute pics!!