Family Field Trip: Dry Valley Dairy

“When you grow up on a dairy farm, cows don’t take a day off. So you work every day and my dad always said, ‘No one can outwork you.” ~Pat Summitt, Head Coach Emeritus, University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball

Awhile back, Big Daddy and I decided it was time for our now-suburban children to take a pilgrimage to the land of raw milk and farm-fresh eggs. For far too long, Big Daddy asserted, they’d been drinking milk and eating eggs that came from the evil corporate conglomeration known as The WalMart. After seeing a local friend post on Facebook about Dry Valley Dairy, I looked them up online. Big Daddy gave Charles, the owner, a quick call and, before you could say, “Moo,” we had packed up our kids and a cooler and were on our way to get milk.

Real milk. And eggs. From real chickens that we could see with our own eyes.

Here’s a pictorial tour (photo credit: me) and, afterwards, some tips for visiting a dairy with your crew. There’s bound to be one somewhere around you.

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Hey, guys…the hay barn’s empty. Um, guys? Somebody?

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I know you have food in there. And I see you.

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Mooooom! Not while I’m milking!

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Texas beauty.

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Twins.

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She thinks my tractor’s sexy.

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What to see: Cows, cows, cows. Cows in the pasture. Cows being milked. Cows eating. And pigs! Rabbits. And more cows! Geese. Wide, open spaces. Good people. Cheese. And…cows. Ask Charles to take you in his new cheese cooler and show you his cheese-making room. He was so gracious to explain the cheese-making process to our kiddos!

What to do: We called ahead to ask about milking times. Dairy cows are milked twice a day, usually about 12 hours apart. While we didn’t want to hoof it out there at 6:00am, 6:00pm was okay. We went earlier (around 4:30 or so), so we could see the other animals and tour the cheese room and cooler before the milking. We stayed for part of the milking and left around 8:00pm.

How to prepare: Talk with your kids about where their food comes from. Read books on the topic. Research Dry Valley or your dairy on the Internet. Prepare them for how to behave around animals that can be skittish at times. Borrow a farming DVD from your local library. I bought one at Half-Price Books, and Ty (2) watches that thing about once a day (minimum). He’s hooked on tractors…bigtime.

What to take: A camera is a must!  If the dairy you are visiting sells milk or other refrigerated goodies on-site, be sure to bring a cooler with ice. Dairies are often a bit of a drive for us city-dwellers, so the trek back might be a bit much for cold stuff unless it’s packed in ice. Snacks are a good idea. Convenience stores are not nearby. Also, consider the weather when dressing. Layers are best, unless it’s a Texas summer. Make sure the kiddos (and adults, too!) are wearing sturdy shoes. While boots are not necessary, closed shoes are appropriate. Cute sandals and cow poop do not mix. I took baby wipes for the after-the-touching-of-farm-animals wipedown. My OCD, and all. Don’t forget the money! Dry Valley takes checks or cash for milk, eggs and cheese. The tour is free! Free is in my budget.


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