Sunday, January 8, 2012
the romance is gone
The vision I've had since my days in elementary school was tested; a dairy farm is not quite as romantic as I thought.
A classmate's family owned such a farm and one day my third-grade class took a tour. The faces are what I remember; soft swirls of tan and white with huge eyes framed by long lashes. I've loved dairy cows ever since.
So on a beautiful day back in October, when I read that Lucky Layla Farm was having a Customer Appreciation Day, I threw my rubber boots in the trunk, grabbed my camera and drove over to the farm which is just a mile or so up the road from where my dad spent his last couple of years.
On my drives to visit Daddy, I'd always scan the fields to see if they were out and if they were and if we decided to go for gelato, I'd detour by the farm so my dad could see the cows. They were often at the very edge where the fence meets the road and one could not have painted a more idyllic scene for us as we slowed to get a close look.
Midday on this Saturday, the cows were far from the road and huddled together at a trough, taking turns before it was time to head to the barn.
The gentleman tending to them truly has a gentle way about him. With a simple gesture or a soft whistle, the Guernsey's and the Jersey's were off to the barn for their afternoon milking.
Inside, they stood around in a central section, mingling as if at a cocktail party, biding time, chewing their cud, while the caretaker prepared the milking stations.
There's much cleansing to be done which involves dipping certain body parts and hosing others, as well as sterilizing the equipment.
I won't describe the smell but our wonderful guide, a tall and lanky man with a dry sense of humor, assured me you get used to it.
By the end of the informal tour, I had learned much about what it takes to run a dairy farm and I had gained a great appreciation for the dirty, daily grind.
Somewhere in the process though, I'd lost my appetite for anything dairy. It was a shame because the farm sells several Lucky Layla products on site; drinkable yogurt, milk, caramel, butter, and cheeses, all very popular and sold locally at retail outlets too.
But I was calling it a day so the cows and I said our goodbyes.
Walking back up the gravel path to my car, I stopped by the pen where I'd been told there were two calves born just a couple days earlier.
I found myself talking to the tan and white faces, blabbering baby-speak, grateful no one was around to hear. I wanted to climb into the pen, stroke them and shoo the flies off and forever away from the precious creatures.
Out of the blue it had happened...
The romance was back.
I was in love again!
I put my camera in the car, changed from boots to shoes and walked into the Lucky Layla Farm store where I bought some bright yellow, farm fresh butter and a dozen fresh eggs too. On the drive home, I thought about the rich, delicious, buttery omelets I'd make for dinner.