Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amish Farms -- Tuesday Part 1

We had to get up EARLY today so we could help the farmer on his farm. Nicholas has really been looking forward to this part of our vacation! He could't wait to milk a cow!

When I went in to wake up the boys, Nick was sound asleep. I whispered, "Nick, it's time to go help the farmer," and he bolted up!

Several other families were staying at "Verdant View Farms" Bed & Breakfast. There were other kids all helping out as well. When we first walked into the cow barn, a horrible smell nearly knocked us out. It wasn't manure and I couldn't place the smell at all. However after a few minutes we got used to it.

We all got to help milk a baby calf with a large bottle. It's mother stood by watching and of course I have ethical dilemmas with a mother not getting to feed her own baby, but that not being the time or place to worry about it, it was fun to help milk the calf.

Then we checked out the milking room and they let us all help milk a cow. After they let us try the old-fashioned way (by hand), they hooked up their fancy milking machines that can milk 3 or 4 cows at a time. Every mother that's nursed a baby has used a version of a milking machine before and I was kind of happy for the cows that they got to have all their teets milked at the same time by the machine because every nursing mother knows double pumps are fancy and so efficient! The milk went from the cows through clear tubes then into clear pipes above our head and out the wall into a huge stainless milk cooler. While we were there the milk truck came and picked up the milk.

They also had a big herd of geese wandering about the farm, 5 or 6 kittens, rabbits in a hutch, hens and roosters and a dog. After playing on the tire swing and with the animals, we waited for breakfast. I sat on the front porch and watched the Amish families go by in their buggys -- mom and dad up front and several little kids in the back facing backwards. You know everyone fights over that seat! Also watched the Amish family across the street. Mom was working in her garden and little girls were riding scooters. All the homes were so well kept up with beautiful yards and gardens. Maybe that's what you do when you don't waste time on the internet or watching TV or running your kids to after-school activities all day. Hmmm...

At breakfast they sat everyone in a big open trailer for fruit, muffins, fresh scrambled eggs, homemade yogurt, sausage, coffee cake and raw milk, straight from the cows.  I've always wanted to try raw milk so was excited even though I'm not a big milk drinker. As soon as I put the cup to my lips, I could smell it and realized that was the smell from the barn--milk. Didn't like the smell at all and while it wasn't such a bad taste, it was forever associated with the smell. We all could kind of smell it in the back of our sinuses all day.

Aside from that, everything was wonderful! We took a tractor/trailer tour of the corn patch -- 50 acres of corn, all to feed their 80 cows for the year. Wow! It was all very interesting. We left and took back roads winding through the most picturesque country I think I've ever seen. I couldn't get enough of the rolling hills and quintessential farms, barns and silos and we all got really excited when a buggy passed.  I did take a photo of some Amish laundry hanging out to dry, but Marty said I was invading their privacy. So won't post it!

A couple hours later we were on the campus of University of Pennsylvania!

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