I think this is the last sight-seeing post for our Bradenton trip. Sadly the month is coming to a close and we’re in wind down mode. At this point we’re trying to finish a few chores with the RV, and start cleaning up for bug out day on Tuesday.
I did manage to work in a crafty day with friends Barbara & Patti at Whim So Doodle in Downtown St. Pete. This fabulous craft store let us camp out and be creative all day on Saturday for free! Buy something as a thanks if you are in the area. I finished 10 cards and a few of you with upcoming birthdays will see my handiwork.
Dakin Dairy Farm
I’m sure you were curious about the name of the post. Holy cow seemed appropriate since we went to a dairy farm with 2400 milking cows. That doesn’t count the calves, heifers and other animals. My family will probably think I’m crazy paying money to tour a dairy farm, but the farmers in the family raise beef cattle and not dairy cows.
We bought our tour tickets and then wondered if it was worth $15 each. Oh yeah it was! We had a grand time and each got in touch once again with our inner child. Visiting those kids a lot these days.
The first part of the tour was on a tractor drawn hayride. The guide explained what goes into the feed and these cows were chowing down. It has silage, hay and a bunch of other things approved by the farm nutritionist, and all grown on site. Yes, these cows seem very well cared for. There are too many cows to name them all, so they have numbers. 6647 is not sure about the likes of us. Actually they were pretty curious and we even shared the cooling water mist spray with this lot. I covered up my camera for that part.
Getting ready to race
For the next part of the tour, we disembarked from our hayride and made a stop at Squealer Field. You guessed it – pig races.
My money was on B&W (he had a name, but can’t remember it, so B&W – for black and white of course). He started out behind, but came up from the rear for a photo-finish win. Alas, no photo since I was in the moment.
The farm hand says they train the pigs to race by starting out with kids chasing them around the racetrack. At the end of the race they get fresh milk to drink. After a while no kids are required, just milk at the end. The pigs are super excited to race, so guessing they really like the milk.
With the race complete, we turned our attention to the calves. Soooo sweet and happy to see us. I think these sweeties were only a few weeks old. Turns out we weren’t the attraction. The giant bottles of milk we got to feed them were just the ticket.
These guys had some good suction and the guide said to hold on tight or they’d take the whole bottle away. I fed one, too, and it was definitely two-handed feeding. Little piggies.
There’s also a petting pen with sheep and goats. The sheep were sporting interesting haircuts this day.
Next stop, the picnic pavilion so we can make our own butter to put on crackers and drink with our fresh chocolate milk. I can’t tell you the last time I drank chocolate milk and it was yummy.
Shake it Baby, Shake it!
Our tour guide provided a mason jar full of fresh heavy cream and we took turns shaking it up. We got past the whipped phase and almost to a solid chunk of butter. We then spread the lovely stuff on saltine crackers and plotted our purchase in the country store.
Back to the cows and now the milking area. Just so you know, the dairy cows produce up to 8 gallons of milk a day – each! That’s a lot of milk given that they do have 2400 cows to milk each and every day. They accomplish this in 3 sessions per cow per day.
The Ladies Getting Milked
Overflow Maternity Ward
From the milking area, we could see a field across the way. Turns out the covered maternity area was full and this is the overflow. Lots of ladies in waiting and these gals were likely to calve within 24 hours.
Once the calves are born, they stay with mom for the first two weeks or so. After that, they go to another farm to raise them up until they are either 4 months old or 400 pounds and then they return. They’re now at the heifer stage and aren’t truly cows until they give birth. The cows are all artificially inseminated so we didn’t see any bulls around.
Baby Cheeses – Just 6 months old
Dakin Dairy Farm just started making their own cheese. Oooh, this caught our eye during the tour and we got to sample some of the cheddar and mozzarella curds.
We also saw the processing area for the milk. This is the only dairy farm in the state of Florida that processes its own milk. They pasteurize, homogenize, package and ship right from this location. They were bottling this day and we got to see the gallons being filled. My picture stunk, so nothing to show for it.
Our last stop was the cafe and gift shop. We purchased fresh white milk, chocolate milk a huge chunk of butter and mozzarella. (I’m going to try my hand at fusilli al telephono)
Hay bale symmetry
Our day on the farm was truly fun and I highly recommend it for the young and old if you are ever in the area. (About 25 minutes East of Bradenton, just off 70)
I’ll leave you with the hay bale photo. I liked the big stack for the shapes and texture. Did you know one of these babies weighs 1000 pounds? Yep – a lot of hey for a lot of hungry gals.
The next two months in DeLand won’t be nearly as much fun, but I’ll keep you posted. See you on the way.