Earlier today we visited the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Now we're heading further West to a working dairy and cheese farm. We're headed to Shelburne Farms in Vermont!
I parked the car, we opened the doors, and pee-yew! It stinks right here.
We met someone a short time later and he said it was the Dairy-Air (derrière).
Shelburne Farms is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and cultivate learning for a sustainable future. They are a 1400 acre working farm and there's quite a bit to see and do here.
There's also 10 miles of walking trails available to guests of the farm. There's no entrance or general admission fee. They just ask for a donation.
We need some walking miles, so we hoofed it over to their Farm Barn. It looks less like a barn and more like a castle, with walls surrounding it and a large forecourt.
A map of the Farm Barn.
What we're really interested in is the Cheese Making! Once the kids figured out which door to go in, they took off.
Their cheesemakers use milk from the Brown Swiss cows in the pastures here to make 170,000 pounds of cheddar each year. They make cheese daily from May to October and we get to watch!
They've been at work since 10am today today and we're here at 2:30pm. They're already onto step 5 which is the milling and salting of the curds.
Cutting the curds into fingers increases the surface area and helps things get salted evenly.
There's a view into the aging room where they put the cheese to develop flavor.
Reading the dates on the packaging, some of these have been here going on three years! I bet they're tasty!
The cheesemakers went on a break, so we're going to explore the rest of the areas around here. Like the Children's Farm Yard!
There's a lot to see!
Like these chickens that are just wandering the grounds.
And a Red Tailed Kestrel, the smallest and most colorful falcon in North America.
These chickens are very tame. I even saw some other guests picking them up.
We wanted to go see the horses. The worker said we'd have to brave the Turkey Gauntlet if we wanted to see them. The turkeys are tame here too!
There's two horses here! Georgia is a Georgian Grande. She's as big as a draft horse and has a super calm demeanor.
And there's Tess, a Belgian Draft Horse. We're told that she's the boss. She decides which stall she eats from and Georgia has to do what she says.
Her handler happily answered any questions the kids had. How old are they? 20 years old and the live to their mid 30s. How much do they eat? During the summers they eat in the pastures so it's hard to tell. In the winter they each eat an entire bale of hay each day!
The turkeys are still handing out on the fence post and the worker was happy to tell us about them too. How old are they? Only 4 months. They were born in May. How did you get them? They come in the mail in a box with lots of holes in it. There were originally 10, but turkeys are not the easiest birds to care for. What are you going to do with them? They are raised for their meat. It's a hard day, but that's what they are raised for. Where do they sleep? They get to roam free all day. But when it's nighttime, they get herded to a roost near the sheep.
The cheesemakers are ready to move on to the next stage of production. Forty pounds of the cheese fingers are placed in these containers and they are squeezed overnight for all the whey to come out. Then the 40 lb blocks of cheddar are wrapped and ready for aging!
Thank you cows!
There's also a woodworking shop on the farm, that makes furniture from trees that are harvested here on property. In the lobby there is an interesting display with the different trees on the property, showing the bark, the rough wood, the finished wood, and then what it's good for making.
It's a cool way to see the differences between the different trees.
A little dog was more interested in us than what was going on in the shop.
These big barrels of sawdust would be great for helping us start campfires.
Back outside we'd planned to explore the rest of the Children's Farm and Theresa noticed this sign. "Strawberries/Blackberries for tasting with clean hands." Time to go find them!
What a beautiful location!
We found sheep! The kids desperately wanted them to come close enough to the fence for them to pet. We noticed one had had its wool sheered off. That let us talk about what wool could be used for. And Theresa really wanted to watch the Pixar Short Boundin' when we got home that night.
Behind the Farm House at the garden, the kids found a small apple orchard. We weren't sure if apple picking was allowed, so they just admired them on the trees.
Alli asked if these were mini-golf courses. They do kind-of look like it, don't they.
Here's those blackberry bushes! There's not a lot of blackberries on here, but there's some. Enough for a taste.
Mmm. Ian thought they were good.
As did Alli. They love fresh berries. Theresa was wondering if they have chiggers here. I was really trying to avoid them when I picked blackberries in Missouri for my Wild Blackberry Pizza.
It's gorgeous here! The bright blue skies, green rolling hills, and fresh flowers and plants.
Here's the strawberry patch!
There's not too many left, but if you lift a few more leaves and get to the very bottom, sometimes you get lucky and find a hidden berry.
Mmm, and they were tasty.
I caught Theresa in the middle of finding a really good one.
That looks like a good one Theresa.
We were in such a rush to get going, we neglected to bring water. Time to head back to the car. It's been a fun time at the farm and it's been super informative. I love places like this.
On the mile walk back to the car, the turkeys from before have come quite a long ways from their pen for the night.
Before we go, we've got to buy something from the Farm Store. You can't go inside due to Covid, but if you tell them what you'd like, they bring it out to you.
I know exactly what we're getting though. We saw them making cheddar cheese, so we're going to have to give that a try!
Those 2 and 3 year cheddars will be perfect for us!
Ian - My favorite part was seeing turkeys. People made cheddar cheese there. We saw chickens. The horse was pushing the other horse for her spot. It smelled bad. We saw sheep. It was fun.