You may not know it, but today marks the start of a special month. Dairy month!
Yup, June is dairy month.
As a dairy farmer and dairy blogger I guess that means I can pretty much carry on as normal. 🙂
Honestly though, it is a fun time of year when dairy promotions abound. In year’s past I’ve seen everything from free chocolate or white milk at our local bank all month to tasty string cheese being handed out at area parades.
Today if you’ve found my blog for the first time as a link from your Supervalu supplied independent retailer I want to say a special welcome. I’m so glad you’ve stopped by!
The short version of me is I dairy farm with my husband and his family in rural Minnesota. I also love running, and I train and race distances from 5K to the marathon in my “spare” time! Farming and running are the mainstays of my blog, though my attempts at cooking and gardening enter the mix from time to time. Family is super important to me, and I chronicle a few family happenings here too.
But back to dairy month. These grocery stores have an exciting June dairy month promotion happening, and part of that includes linking to dairy farmer bloggers like me.
Me, a featured blog! Who would have thought?
Another part includes great coupons and a chance to win free General Mills cereal or Pillsbury cookie dough for a year. For a link to the coupons and a listing of participating stores by state, just click here.
As a way to start off this exciting month of dairy celebration I thought we should take a little journey. It’s not a long journey, but it’s an important one that happens everyday. Let’s follow along on the route my farm’s milk takes as it goes from the cows in the barn to you at the dairy case in your favorite store.
The cows. It truly all starts with them.
I took this picture just this afternoon as the cows were partaking in one of their favorite activities — eating.
Cows need to eat and drink a lot to produce milk, and as farmers we make sure they always have nutritious, balanced feed and fresh water available.
We keep our cows indoors in free stall or open pens, which helps keep them warm and draft-free in winter. In summer we use fans and sprinklers to keep the air circulating and keep cows cool. Some of our cows and heifers also go out on pasture in summer. (The cows at the top of my blog lying in the grass were photographed by yours truly.)
The actual milking process takes place in our milking parlor. Cows enter through the back and walk up into the stalls and put their head through.
Milking machines, or units, from the back…
Before we attach the milking machine we clean the cow’s teats with an iodine-based solution and wipe them dry. We also squeeze out or strip a little bit of milk from each quarter of the udder. This lets the cow know she’s going to be milked soon and helps start milk flow.
As the cow is milked the milk travels through a hose attached to the milking unit and then stainless steel pipes to our bulk tank where it’s cooled to 40 degrees or below. It continues to be cooled and stirred in the tank. Then, once daily the milk truck pulls right up to the barn to get our milk.
A thick hose is connected to our bulk tank to move the milk into the truck. The truck is also refrigerated so the milk stays cool on its journey.
After our milk tank is empty then it goes through a wash, rinse, and sanitize cycle before we start milking again.
Our milk travels about 30 miles away to a dairy processing plant. It’s first pasteurized to kill any harmful bacteria that could remain in the milk, a very important step. At this particular plant most of our milk will be made into cheese.
Whether it’s a gallon of 1%, a carton of strawberry yogurt, or a pound of sharp cheddar, every dairy product you choose is held to a high standard of food safety, nutrition, and quality.
It all starts with caring well for cows so they produce good, quality milk. Then that milk is handled and processed in a clean, safe manner so it can be made into delicious products and delivered to a store near you.
It’s a pretty amazing process when you think about it. I suppose that’s why we get our own month to celebrate!
For my regular readers, I’m going to put my “Running Tales” on hold for today. I’m all blogged out. But I’ll be back with more dairy and running updates soon.
Feel free to comment with any questions or feedback. I love to hear from you.