How do I know summer is over? By 8:30 am I had the washer and dishwasher running, breakfast and lunch made and cleaned up (I kind of freaked out and made everything), and dinner started. After an entire summer together, the girls and I don’t separate well, so Daddy always makes the school commute the first day; as I stripped the sheets off their beds (now covered in “jitter glitter” which is placed under pillows the night before school starts), I laid my head on Kelly’s bed and had myself a good cry. The house is so quiet. The kitten is dashing about, trying to find the girls. I found him in their bathroom sink a few minutes ago. Nope, not there either. And as much as I stomped around these past 2 weeks, declaring this day couldn’t come soon enough, when they’re gone…I’m stunned by the surreal feeling that the summer was only a dream.
Of course, it wasn’t, because you witnessed it, in all its unplanned madness. While the Summer of Science wasn’t quite what I had envisioned, it was a worthwhile endeavor. Science in a house with scientist parents is less of a curriculum, and more of a day-to-day reality. I will not stop sharing the stories of our messes, explosions, and unscripted mayhem, just because the school bell rang at 8:15 this morning.
SO, onward: our last lesson was created by Daddy, who thought Sara might enjoy a trip to Fair Oaks Farms for her birthday. According to her, she is “really into this whole pregnancy thing, what with Princess Kate having a baby.” So where can we see babies being born? At a farm. Good one Daddy. Fair Oaks tag line is, “Responsible and Sustainable Dairy Farming Is What We Do”, and that’s no lie. I’ve seen A LOT of cows guys. No…seriously…I cannot begin to imagine how much livestock I’ve seen in my 41 years, and I’ve never seen barns like these. 32,000 cows, in the most organized and sterile feeding, raising, and milking production I’ve ever witnessed. What you see above is a milking carousel, which runs 7 hours on, 1 off, milking cows in 8 minute rides, 3x per day. As it turns, the cows step onto the carousel, and back themselves off. Cows are notorious creatures of habit. Underneath the platform are people methodically cleaning teats and attaching milking apparatus. Computers track how much milk each cow is generating…it’s wild how much data they collect on each cow.
The cows spend their lives in the same herds and rest and eat on sand beds which are softer, cleaner, and works well as a conduit for sifting out manure, which they use to power the entire farm. These cows don’t receive growth hormones, nor do they receive unneeded antibiotics. And how much milk do they produce? 4 million glasses of milk per day.
My favorite part was tasting the cheese. So, so much cheese. It was just yum. I loved the Hickory Smoked Sweet Swiss. The girls have already devoured nearly a pound of Provolone (it tastes nothing like what I buy at the store…far more creamy and rich). The spicy bacon smoked Havarti I brought home? Gone. I can confirm their grilled cheese and french onion soup are indeed, award-winning. We didn’t leave without ice cream either, because that would just be wrong. I can’t share it because we ate it all.
It was a day filled with cow adventure tours (we didn’t have time for the pig adventure…next time), this gigantic jumping pillow-thing, train rides, a milk-jug climbing wall, and a Cow-A-Bunga (bungee jumping). So you see, we needed to eat all that food for fuel.
But the reason we made the trek was for one thing: to watch calves being born. They deliver 80 per day, so it’s a guaranteed feature of the farm. By watching the stop light outside of the birthing barn, you know when to walk into the dark and hushed theater to watch a live birth. This cow needed assistance from a woman I assume is named a Bovine Midwife, but less than 5% of their births require any human intervention whatsoever. It’s not the most appetizing thing to witness (Kelly will tell you it’s disgusting and boring), but Sara thought it was the coolest thing on earth. She announced she’ll be growing up to become a Cow Midwife. Too awesome, greatest birthday ever. Auntie Amanda was with us, and as a Labor & Delivery & Postpartum RN? She was about as moved as Kelly. I, much like Sara, thought it was super cool to witness.
We stayed to watch the calves take their first steps, and we visited the nursery, filled with 75 lb-ish newborns. I guess I can stop complaining about putting on 75 lbs with my pregnancies, because I didn’t give birth to a 75 lb COW.
It was a beautiful and sunny 75 degree day, and Sara yelled into the sky, “Thank you God for this beautiful day on my birthday!” I think it was a great way to end the Summer of Science, while also paying homage to last year’s Culinary Summer. So what’s in store for next year? Of course they’ve picked their theme already. They have my DNA.
Rest up and prepare yourself for 2014′s SUMMER OF GAMES!!!!