Sunday, April 24, 2011


First off, Happy Easter to everyone.  Hope you are having as beautiful a spring day as we are.

There's a lot of things about the internet that I don't understand (Courage Wolf, for example.  Can anyone explain the appeal?), but I am a sucker for baby animal squee.  Actually, now that I think about it, I kind of hate the word "squee".  I retract the previous sentence.  I am a sucker for cute baby animals.    

So with the promise of seeing baby goats bottle fed on the 10am tour, Daniel and I journeyed out to Hinchley's Dairy Farm  east of Madison Saturday morning.  During the drive, I was contemplating how actual farmers must view farm tourism.  Every morning they get up to milk the cows and feed and care for all their animals, and we will pay $10 a person for the privilege of pretending to do just that*.

Hinchley's is a real working dairy farm that supplies milk to Dean Foods.  They also grow corn, wheat and alfalfa to feed the cows and raise a variety of other animals, mostly as 4-H projects for the kids and to supplement the family's income.

First stop, the baby goats:

Most of the kids did well on the tour, but there was one little girl who screamed and cried almost the whole time.  Poor thing is going to grow up to be a vegan and have an irrational fear of cows.

Next stop was the baby cows.  This one was born just the day before.

This "little" one was two days old.  It was chilly out so the calves had to wear cow snuggies.

Then it was cow milking time.  I was kind of afraid I'd hurt the cow because you have to squeeze pretty hard to get milk to come out.  Juicy the Cow was unimpressed.

Then we went back outside to see the other animals.

Gigantic fluffy geese:

Mean, nasty, ugly geese:

Bessie the Dog, who we nicknamed Hambone, who followed us around during the tour:


When we pet the chicken, we were allowed to touch the comb and the waddle, which the woman running the tour described to the kids as feeling like a hot fruit roll-up.  I'd agree with that.

Newborn baby chicks:

Baby lamb:

After the animals, we saw a bunch of farm material and equipment, including a gigantic $350k combine.  That thing would be like driving our 2nd-story apartment around.  The whole tour took about 1.5 hours, and was fun for kids and adults.  The only downside was that it was pretty cold out, and I was glad when we got to go inside and defrost my feet.

It was neat to see the animals and get a glimpse of the hard work that it takes to keep a dairy farm running.  Although this is exactly the kind of non-organic, large-company supplier farm that people like Michael Pollan love to hate, it was certainly clean when we were there, and the animals seemed well-cared for and happy.  And the farmers seemed to enjoy being able to carry on the family tradition.  If you live in Madison and are looking for some relatively inexpensive family fun (with our without kids), I'd recommend it.  They have a corn maze in the summer, and a pumpkin give-away in the fall.    

Today is just a relaxing day.  We went to church this morning, did some cleaning, and will go to yoga and Easter dinner at Samba tonight (gotta use up a Groupon before it expires tomorrow!).  Tomorrow begins the final push before our trip to ARVO.  Have a good Sunday, all.

*Well, I didn't have to shovel any poo...  Probably couldn't get $10 a person if poo shoveling was involved.