The other day we got the privilege of taking a field trip to a dairy farm in Sterling, ND. The dairy farm, the Goetz Dairy Farm, has been in the family now for three generations. The second and third generations are the ones running the farm right now, and a few years ago they decided to start a processing plant to provide a natural hormone free milk product called Bessy's Best.
Apparently, the production of the milk was well received in the surrounding areas so last year they decided to add cheese curds and yogurt to their product line. They process whole white and chocolate milk, original and pepper cheese curds, and vanilla and strawberry yogurt. The yogurt is sold in quarts and you pour it – I pour it into small juice glasses and drink it.
Before we could enter the processing area we all (over 75 of us) had to put on hair nets. This is what we could see as we walked in.
The big cylinder shaped thing in the back corner is the pasteurizer. While the owners got things set up for the bottling process, their son took questions. He talked about how long the days are for all of them. They start as early as two in the morning and work till late into the evening sometimes as late as ten p.m. He said a day off is a day when they work less than six hours.
This girl, who is an exchange student (of some sort) from Brazil placed the unmarked bottles into the label area so before they were filled the labels were adhered to the bottle.
The bottles then traveled to be filled.
Once they were filled they made their way around and before being pushed off a bottle top was placed on the bottle.
Then the bottle was rinsed off and then this guy, an exchange student from Germany, dried the tops off (with the leaf blower) and then pounded them with a mallet to make sure they were sealed. He would also squeeze the bottle to make sure it didn’t leak, if it did he removed it from the line. If it passed he handed it off to one of the younger kids who got to help put the bottles in crates for the cooler.
Towards the end of the bottling process, the husband hosed down the inside or at added water to the pasteurizer.
After they had finished bottling all the quarts of chocolate milk they started preparing to bottle half gallons, but at that point we headed out to tour other parts of the farm. The kids, those that could fit on, climbed on to the wagon to get a tour of the farm.
They took the kids through the different fields and they got to see a lot of cows, but we walked over to the building where they milk the cows and keep the calves.
We learned that they take the calves away from their mamas between one and five hours of birth. They have to hand or bottle feed the calves until they can eat on their own. They talked about what they do with the calves at different stages, and what happens to the male calves.
Since the calves are hand/bottled fed from the beginning, they are not afraid of people. Matter of fact, they would chase the kids, as far as their tie would let them (they had one leg tied to the little hut). Plus they would suck on anything! Hands, fingers, jackets, pants, etc. The kids were all having a good time playing with the calves.
This little one was Mackenzie’s favorite, and she got a kick out of letting her suck on her hand.