Initially, it’s all about the dairy air. Kids touring a working farm that’s home to 1,300 cows didn’t hesitate to vocalize what, undoubtedly, the accompanying adults were thinking as we approached the Country Dairy barnyard on the tractor-pulled wagon: “Ewwwwwww! What’s that smell?!”
But after that first shock to our olfactory systems the fragrance became a non-issue.
My Moo School classmates and I became absorbed in the behind-the-scenes peek at the source of our milk, butter, cheese and ice cream.
We started our 90-minute visit with a video overview of the fourth generation Van Gunst family farm in New Era, near the White Lake area and the mid-Mitten Lake Michigan shore.
Guide Ruth drove the tour tractor and explained the sights: the “dry cows” put in a pasture and are not milked for two months before they birth their calves; the cow barns and Holstein hotel for the top milk producers; the calf barn, where the kids loved petting the (relatively) little cows; the milk bottling room and the butter, ice cream and cheese making areas.
Our group’s timing was right and we were also able to enter the milking area to see one of the three-times-daily events that each day produce 17,000 gallons of milk free of rBST (bovine growth hormone).
Now if they could only come up with a fragrance-free solution to that other cow product…
Country Dairy offers tours four times each day through the summer months—no reservation required. Between Labor Day and Memorial Day tours are by appointment. There is a charge for the tours. Check the website for hours, fees and location.
After our tour we sampled cheese curds and oh-so-creamy chocolate milk. There’s an attractive cafe where you can buy sandwiches, pizza and ice cream (I tried the Udder Nutsense—chocolate ice cream with chocolate almonds and chocolate cashews. Delish.)
Visitor Info Click: White Lake Area