This past week I had the privilege of venturing to California to learn more about what it takes to bring milk from the farm to my kitchen table. I met a handful of men and women that work tirelessly day in and day out to provide a wholesome delicious product and learned about the love and passion that goes into each and every gallon we buy. I witnessed a baby calf being born, saw 52 cows being milked all at once, observed a multitude of milk jugs spinning through the creamery’s production line and tasted the most A.mazing frozen yogurt, cheeses, and creams. I stayed at a breathtakingly beautiful Inn steeped in history and grandeur, and experienced meals that would rival even the finest five star restaurant. Best of all, I met new friends. Generous, beautiful people who welcomed me into their state, shared their knowledge, answered my questions (even the dumb ones, not that there’s any such thing of course) and treated me like I was one of their own. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.
Our first stop upon arriving in California was to the Scott Family Creamery, a multi-generational business run by Brad Scott and his family. I could gush on and on about how dedicated and devoted they are, but I think if you simply listen to Brad talk about his farm, you’ll hear the love and passion he has for what he does.
After touring the farm, we headed over to the Cheese Cave in Clairmont for a beer and cheese tasting; definitely my speed.
The shop is run by two sisters, Lydia and Marnie, who were so warm, knowledgable, and just plain real, that they somehow made the beer and cheese taste even better than I imagined they would.
The next day we headed down to Brad Scott’s farm and took a tour of the actual dairy. We learned about feeding practices, sustainability, and everything that goes into making sure that all the cows are healthy, and above all, happy.
We even had the privilege of watching a baby cow being born. This is about 10 minutes after the calf was born. The mama was cleaning her off and already working to get her up and walking around.
And speaking of babies, check out this cutie – just a day old and already a looker. I wanted to pick her up and bring her back home with me.
After finishing up the tour at Brad Scott’s farm, we headed over to Essie Bootsma’s ranch to tour another modern dairy farm. Here we were able to watch the milking process in action. Each cow is milked twice a day and can produce up to 9 gallons. Essie has the ability to milk 52 cows at one time. Here you can see one side of the milking area with 26 cows being milked. The whole process takes about 4-5 minutes per cow.
After the tour we were fed an amazing lunch created by a local chef featuring California dairy products and were treated to a 60 minute roundtable where we learned more about bovine nutrition, sustainability, and health procedures from experts in the field.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t make a mention of the stunning hotel we stayed at; The Mission Inn in Riverside.
Built in 1876, this hotel is brimming with history, stories, and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. With multiple presidents as guests and perhaps even a ghost or two in residence (you didn’t hear it from me), charm and character oozes from inside each of it’s aged and manicured walls.
Food, hotels, and tours aside, the bottom take home message is that the farmers who supply us with the milk we drink are real people. They work hard, are proud of what they do, and have a strong passion and love for the dairy business. They pride themselves on providing you and me with a wholesome product filled not only with vitamins, minerals and other healthy bits, but with the devotion and dedication that they bring day in and day out to the dairy business. For us it’s a glass of milk. For them it’s a mission, a family legacy, and an incredible sense of pride that comes from within. It takes a special person to be a farmer and I for one, will be appreciating that glass of milk all the more from this point on.