Today we headed up to Lindsay, Ca., to visit a dairy farm and learn about their artisan cheesemaking. Hilarides Dairy is a third-generation family farm. Their award-winning Three Sisters Farmstead Cheese was named for the farmer's three daughters, who do much of the cheesemaking.
Nine thousand cows live on the farm. Four times a day, they make their way into the milking barn, and line up for their turn on the milking merry-go-round. The dairy's two "cow carousels" allow 160 cows to be milked at a time -- 80 on each.
We watched the workers clean the cows' udders and hook them up to the milking hoses. The cows are surprisingly graceful and orderly as they enter and exit the carousel. They seemed almost eager for their turn on the ride!
Lindsay Hilarides, the middle of the Three Sisters, led our tour, walking us through the new "Cheese Theatre," and letting the kids hold the giant, moldy cheese wheels which were aging in a huge refrigeration room upstairs.
The farm is apparently the only dairy in the country to be generating all of its own electricity and biofuel using the manure produced by its cows. The Halirides' fleet of trucks runs on the farm's biofuel. Very cool!
But I think the kids' favorite part was just hanging out with the cows after the tour...
And, of course, I had to bring some of the delicious Serena cheese home to share with hubby. It's an Italian-style hard cheese, somewhat like Parmesan. Yum!
Edited to add: Go check out more fun field trips at Jena's Virtual Field Trip collection!