Speaking of cows

Now that RSV season is over and the flu season is winding down (kind of), we are venturing out in public with the girls. With the down economy I'm looking for inexpensive or free things to do that would be interesting for us as a family. It would be nice for us to go on an "adventure" every weekend if possible. The day before Mother's Day we went to a local farmer's market. The girls LOVED it! They pretty much set up camp in front of the live music, danced, and smiled at everyone who smiled at them. According to Avery there were "yots and yots of vegetables" at the market.

For today's adventure I zeroed in on a free tour of the local Mayfield Dairy. This is the same Mayfield Dairy, if you live in the southeast, that produces milk sold in the golden yellow jugs and the yummy, yummy Moose Tracks ice cream. The girls were so enthralled with Guwampa's farm I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to see some more cows, see the milk the cows make, and eat some ice cream. I should have gotten a clue that things may not be as they appear when the website gave no pictures or description of the tour but instead focused a lot on the merchandise one might purchase in their gift shop. Ah well.

So the girls wake up and are excited to go on a "dairy farm adventure"...yes, I assumed we were actually going to an actual working dairy farm. I had visions of walking through and seeing the cows in the field and some more cows hooked up to those things that milk them, then we'd see the milk being put into glass bottles (I know it's not 1950 but this was the image I had in my head), and maybe we'd even see where they make the ice cream and get to taste free samples of new flavors. So we all eat a good breakfast, the girls got dressed with little protest, and we all hop in the car, eager to see what lies ahead just a few towns away.

The doubt begins to settle in when we pull up to what looks like a manufacturing plant with a "country store" looking entrance. Not a cow in sight, except for the 15'-0" tall plastic one next to the ice cream shop. Lily says from the back seat "we're gonna see cows" in that sweet sing songy voice of hers. I look at Richard with a little concern in my eyes, not wanting the girls to be disappointed.

We get out of the car and head through the front doors of the "country store" and enter a gift shop wonderland with all things Mayfield...keychains, stuffed cows, coozies, t-shirts, mugs, glasses, you name it...it said Mayfield. There are also any number of toys from Gund stuffed animals and Webkinz, to a very chic looking play country kitchen. I see an employee at the front desk and say hello and tell her this is our first visit, she tells us the next tour will begin in 40 minutes and we should line up under the yellow sign at the entrance to the theater. Theater...hmmm...with two two year olds...not quite sure how this is going to go.

Well we walk around the gift shop a bit, saying repeatedly "be careful", "don't touch that", "we can't hold that", "that's dirty", you get the idea. Richard and I decide to go ahead and get the girls some ice cream to pass the time. They get a scoop of birthday cake ice cream in a cone - why did I order a cone for two toddlers? I suppose I wanted that picturesque, quintessential "experience" of eating ice cream that they of course make right here where we were standing.

The girls spend some time licking away at the cone and then running around the courtyard area. They stare at all the other kids around, smell the flowers, and point out the very large plastic cow. The call comes over the intercom for the next tour and we head back inside. We sit in the first row in front of a fairly large screen. While we are sitting there, waiting for the other people to file in, I notice two bins near the exit door labeled "hair nets"...hmmm...this "adventure" is becoming more adventurous by the second.

The nice tour guide comes in and says we'll watch a 10 minute video before starting the tour. The lights go down and a video comes on showing a brief history of the Mayfield Dairy and how the milk is processed, tested, and bottled. The one good thing about the video was that it was made very clear that Avery and Lily are no where near ready for a movie at a movie theater. Two minutes in Lily was squirming and trying to run away...for Avery it took about 5 minutes. Granted the subject matter had nothing to do with Loonette, Molly Dolly, Dora or Mary Poppins...but still, it was a pretty good indicator that the big screen will have to wait for a while.

The video ends and a supervisor comes in explaining that this is a working plant (he didn't say dairy farm) and OSHA requires all visitors and employees to wear hairnets. Yes, even Avery and Lily had to wear them. This was probably the highlight of the adventure...seeing all four of us in our yellow hairnets, I'm sure we were quite a sight! Photography was not allowed so unfortunately you'll have to use your imagination.

The tour begins and we see a big room with lots of stainless steel piping and machinery...no milk or cows in sight. The next window we get to shows three people shooting the breeze in the "laboratory"...ok, still no milk or cows. We move on to the next area which is the receiving area. Receiving? I thought the cows were around here somewhere so what was there to receive that we would have any interest in seeing? The receiving area, I quickly learn, is for the trucks to come in with the milk!


No cows?

Nope! Just big refrigerated trucks full of milk from cows that don't even live in Georgia! Some of the milk comes from Georgia or Tennessee, but most comes from Indiana. So now I'm bummed and the girls still are looking into these rooms that are mostly stainless steel tubing and stainless steel trucks and stainless steel tanks. We continue on to the next windowed rooms...the first is where the jugs are made, the next is where the milk is put into the jugs, and the last one is where the jugs are put in the milk crates and sent into the refrigerated warehouse. I was so disappointed! It wasn't even a fast paced, jug after jug along a busy conveyor belt with busy workers slapping labels on the jugs, like you see in the movies. It was all just a bunch of stainless steel, there were hardly any people at all since the processing is all automated, and it didn't even look like it was moving all that fast either.

Ok, so I'm 1 for 1 in the "adventure" planning department (I can at least attest that I suggested the wildlife zoo, but I can't take credit for the farmer's market, that was all Richard)...I guess I need to do more research next time. Despite how boring the tour was, the girls were very well behaved and as we were driving away Avery says "this was a fun day mommy and daddy." I guess they really don't need much more than being with mommy, daddy, and eachother.


Jennifer said...

I was reading your post to Justin, who took Brice last year one day when I was newly pregnant and not feeling good. He thought the same things you did and had the same visions in his head. He was laughing while I was reading your post and saying, "EXACTLY!". He and Brice were bummed. If you are up for a real adventure, I hear there is a better "working dairy farm" in Cobb County some where. Bad part=the drive!

Dorinda said...

I'm sorry your adventure didn't turn out like you planned but good for you for getting the girls out and about! I still dread taking them places though we are trying.

And I'm so sorry I missed your visit to VA - next time I swear!

All time favorite video of Zoe!

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Bible verses that comfort me

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children....Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them"
~ Mark10:14 & 10:16

"...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint"~ Isaiah40:31