Monday, December 8, 2014

Rewind : Got Milk?

Another "rewind" post as I get my blog caught up on life in the last few months...

In August, we made a trip back to Iowa to visit my family. It is always great to just spend time with them, but it's also fun to play tourist there.  We have found plenty of fun things for our family to see and do while we are there. The highlight of this trip was a visit to Hansen's Dairy in Hudson, IA.

Hansen's Dairy is a locally owned and family-operated dairy. Most days you can schedule a guided tour where you can learn about their farm, their cows, the process of milking, and get some "hands-on" experiences. To top that off, you can meet and feed their pet kangaroos and wallaby, as well as taste some of the delicious products. The kids absolutely loved this hands-on field trip, as did all of the adults.

After riding in a tractor-pulled wagon from the visitor's center to the farm next door, we first visited the kangaroos and wallaby. They are the mascot of Hansen's Dairy, added to the farm after one of their sons took a trip to Australia. You can pet and feed them.

Next, we got to bottle-feed calves. As a child, my brother and I often did this on our uncle's dairy farm. It was fun to see my kids doing it.

Aunt Steffoni taking a turn
The day we visited, a calf had just been born. They mentioned that they were looking for an 'A' name since they name the calves with the letter that begins the mother's name. They were thinking August since she was born in August. I suggested our last name, which is a rare name. There surely hadn't been another cow named Ardente in their farm's history. Sure enough, they took our suggestion and there is now a cow named Ardente growing up on the Hansen farm. We even got to take a turn bottle feeding her.

Next we learned more about how they care for the herd and manage the different parts of the farm and milk business. We visited the milking parlor and took a turn trying to hand-milk one of the cows. Both myself and Lillian were quick learners and could have gotten hired for an opening they had.

One of the highlights of the visit was the tasting back at the visitor's center. We got to shake a small amount of cream in a jar to make butter. Levi loved it and ate a TON of the butter with crackers. We sampled chocolate milk and each got to pick one flavor of their ice cream to enjoy. In addition, they had hands on activities for the kids.

We liked their milk products so much, we now bring them home to Illinois and have my mom bring it to us when she visits. The kids cheer when we have Hansen's Dairy "kangaroo milk". I'm happy to support a "local" business and get a better product too. If you're in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, I would definitely recommend a visit to both their farm and one of their retail locations.