Monday, July 02, 2007

Fair Oaks Farms
856 N 600 E, Fair Oaks, IN 47943 Toll Free: 877-536-1194

I spied this dairy on our way home from Chicago the end of May and decided that I would stop there on our return trip to Chicago in June. It is about 80 miles north of Indy or 80 miles south of Chicago on I-65 (located at Winamac/SR 14 exit 220). We highly recommend it if your travels take you up that way!

Visited on June 26, 2007 12:45 PM until after 4 PM

Admission: $7 adults $4 child 3-12 children under 2 free school groups $3 groups of 10 or more $5 . They offer a family pass for $30 which is 2 adult admissions, 2 child admissions and a $10 gift certificate to spend in the gift shop (we used ours to buy icecream and milk).

From their website: Operating dairy farm and museum where on average 80 calves are born a day. Discover modern dairy farming and the benefits of dairy products then shop the Dairy Store. The art of dairy is what we do, and on the extraordinary Fair Oaks Farms, our family is honored to make the freshest milk, award winning cheeses and fine ice cream, everyday, for you. We are so passionate about our extraordinary dairy; we invite you to visit us ­ any day and every day. Explore with us the Seven Wonders of the Dairy Adventure. The whole family is sure to share moo-mentous fun! Outstanding Field Trip. Open daily 9am-5pm, Sudays 10am-5pm.

Hannah wasn't too excited when I told her that we would be breaking up our drive to Chicago by stopping at a dairy farm, but she changed her tune within minutes of walking in the door! We began by purchasing our admission wristbands at the ADVENTURE STATION and we at first disappointed when we learned we would have to wait 70 minutes for the next tour bus (we got there at 12:50 PMand the 1 PM bus was full!) When we asked what we were supposed to do for the next hour the woman at the desk gave us the run down of activities, including that we could walk to the BIRTHING BARN and hope to see a calf born.....we were so IN LUCK because we entered the barn when one of the calves had just presented its hooves (for those of you that don't know, calves are born front hooves first).....very quickly the calf was out and the mom was licking it clean! The baby calf will attempt to nurse between 20 minutes and 1 hour after birth, the calves on the farm are not permitted to nurse, though, as it messes up the milk production processes of the farm, so the calves are bottle fed. After watching the mom and calf interact for a while, we headed to the Dairy store where you could see milk and icecream production and of course taste the products! We actually almost missed our bus, because we stopped to get icecream (yummy and all natural!).

We were loaded onto the bus and taken one mile to the actual farm. We were shown the feed area, the maternity ward (where cows are kept the 60 days prior to giving birth), the nursery pens (where the calves are kept for 8 weeks before before the females calves are shipped to a neighboring farm(the males are sold, they are of no use to the dairy) , the free stall barns and finally the milking barn.

The milking barn was something to be seen......the cows get onto what they foundly call a "dairy-go-round" where their utters are cleaned, wiped and they are hooked up to the milking machine, each cow is milked for approximately 5 minutes, their utters are dipped in a protective cream, they get off the dairy-go-roungd and then they are returned to their free stall barn. The whole process takes 8 minutes...during the second 8 minutes, the milk is cooled from 101 degrees( cows body temperature) to 34 degrees...they have two pipes you can feel to see the difference in the two temperatures. Everyone is then loaded onto the bus and taken back to the adventure station, where there are tons of hands on activities for the kids including practicing hooking up a cow to the miling machine and other fun interactive activities.

Before we left, we caught another birth...this one was a bit scarier than the first. The calf, whose head was completely out and sack was broken ended up back inside the mother when she shifted her weight.....the vet had to tie ropes to the calf's legs, hook them over the fence and force the mom to move forward fast to pull the calf out! It was really scary and the calf looked dead, but within seconds its head popped up and mom was over cleaning it off, it was doing fine!

We spend over 3 hours at the farm, and could have spent at least another hour or maybe even 2 without having been bored. We ended out visit by buying a 1/2 gallon of chocolate milk and 2 hunks of cheese (farmers and butterkase).

We highly recommend the stop. Keep in mind that the birthing barn might be overwhelming to some young children, Sophia ended up walking into the post birth area (where the adorable calves where housed for the hours after their birth) anytime she found everything to be getting to be too much for her!

BTW, this place is IMMACULATE...I couldn't believe how clean the ENTIRE place was! They use methane to power the entire visitors area, and by processing the manure into methane, they reduce odor on the farm itself by 90% (the only time you smell ANYTHING is when you exit the bus to see the milking building, and the smell isn't much of anything).

What do you call a cow that has just given birth?


Yes, there are plenty of cow puns on the farm...but you won't regret the stop!

Photos coming soon!

No comments: