Recently, I had the privilege to visit the dairy farm of Kevin and Holly Blood and family, of State Center, Iowa. I was inspired to do so by my efforts in working with The Iowa Food and Family Project and their “Join My Journey” program. June is Dairy Month and as a guest blogger of IFFP, I wanted so badly to do a dairy story. My family has always had a special relationship with the Bloods which began with my Dad and Kevin, who were college friends at Iowa State University.
For my Iowa Food and Family Project story (the first part with more details and info): “Truly Rewarding Work: A Visit to The Blood Family Dairy”
Back to the EXTRAS!
Kevin is a dairyman and row crop farmer, my Dad raises beef cows and is too, a row crop farmer. I promise there are few harder workers than these guys that I’ve ever met in my life. IN MY LIFE! (Thank goodness their wives put up with their antics so well.)
Let’s start from the beginning. We arrived on the dairy and all of the Blood grandchildren were at my vehicle with open arms ready to carry my diaper bags, the prize winning Sour Apple Pork Burger ingredients (I promised Kevin that I’d make them for him) and my children! These children really wanted to help, they were hard workers and helped me prepare the burgers, I had amazing sous chefs!
Hi Cody! Ready to serve some burgers, check out those skewers!
Here are all of the kids we had in tow during the tour, this picture takes place later, but I didn’t want to hold all of this cuteness out on ya. They were all adorable, helpful, sincere and bright.
They even got out these fancy pedal tractor riding toys. Saved this crabby baby (my son) from totally freaking out. Can we say no nap?
She (my daughter) loved them too. At one point there was a young Blood granddaughter riding along on the back of the frame behind her, totally enjoying herself. PS: We had to be sure that proper western jeans were worn, boots were shined up and ready for a big day on the dairy. She was HOPING she’d get to milk a cow but that was something this Mama couldn’t promise. Stand by…
Fast forward… we had a delightful dinner with the whole family and then we loaded up the ‘tour vehicles’ for the dairy tour. (FYI: I’m not endorsing that this is a safe way to travel but the kids loved it and we drove right down the center of the barns at about 3 m.p.h. The alternative was a hayrack. This is just how we do things on the farm, k?) These rides were nearly the highlight of my children’s experience on the dairy.
Kids in the truck bed.
Alas, the tour has begun. I do apologize for the lack of photographs. I was so into the experience I forgot to lug my big camera to my face.
First up, the long barns where the cows are kept, they are big and bright. The cows are roaming about, some laying in sand bedded areas, others happily chewing their cud. All were curious of us, especially this one. Those Holsteins are just beautiful cows.
Second stop: the newborn calves. All of us couldn’t believe the setup, it was wonderful. We don’t have a setup like this for our beef calves. We need one. All of the calves were warm, had dry bedding, were protected from predators and the elements of weather and were totally safe. They were sweet and my daughter loved up on them.
Loving those babies.
These kids were a mass of motion all night. I loved it!
Moving right along… to the milking parlor!
Holly Blood with her grandchildren (and my daughter, in pink) showing them the office. She also showed me the magnificent technology that is used to track details of every cow from milk production to reproductive stats, health and well-being, and more. It was fascinating for me. The small tag that holds the information sits in their ear and Holly said she could wave this device with a wand on it, over the tag and it would show the details in real time. This system is paramount as the Bloods are milking 2000 cows, with plans to expand their operation over the coming years.
This is Dresden, she is showing me where the milk comes down from the parlor deck up above and is delivered into the large stainless steel tube she is holding. It is then sent through that tube on over a series of ‘plate coolers’ which chills the milk very quickly so it is prepared for shipping. The milk truck visits the Blood Dairy 3 times per day! (The stainless steel tube was warm from all of that fresh whole milk.)
I had a great time with these kids! One of them sent me this picture via Twitter @FoodSwineIowa
Here’s one of the large drums the cooled milk travels to. It is ‘whole milk’ at this point and a COOL dairy term (if you want to sound like a big-leaguer not a bush-leaguer) is “FLUID”. This milk is considered by my dairy friends as ‘fluid’. I like it, sounds important… and I love to feel important.
I wish you could see the picture (I had a big lens on, not enough room to move back) but one of the Blood grandchildren had seen that the milk-truck guy had made a mess with his hose (like a 2″ area of ‘fluid’ milk), they turned on the cleaning hose and spiffed it right up! The whole parlor was immaculate.
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. My daughter DID get an honest-to-goodness milking lesson from Kevin Blood. She was so excited I couldn’t wipe the smile off of her face. She loved it and I was so thankful that he took the time to show her. Kevin and Holly have a huge heart for children, they see many groups through their dairy each year and the children are the favorites.
Until next time Blood Family… and yes Kevin, I’ll be making you those winning BEEF sliders you asked for.
For more delicious dairy info visit: www.midwestdairy.org
*My opinions are my own.