How many of us have been driving North or South on I-65, seen a sign similar to this one and thought, “I should really stop there sometime”? Well, folks. I took one for the team and I decided I was finally going to do it. I was ready to learn all about dairy, the milking process and stare at some cows.
Okay, fine. I was really just in it for the sampling of all of their cheeses. So what?
I started my dairy adventure at the front desk. By forking over a small adult fee of $12 ($10 for children), I was given an all-inclusive run of the farm. This included the exhibits in the main building, the 3D/4D movie about the milking process, the bus tour that takes you through the entire farm, the birthing barn and the fun activities they have on the rest of the grounds. If you’re short on time, they have a $10 fee that includes the birthing barn and the remainder of the grounds.
Once I paid my way, I took a stroll through the first portion of the exhibit. There they have scale statue cows that have facts written all over them including their weight (1500 pounds), how many stomachs they have (four) and why they wear “earrings” (to be used as identification). After I was done learning all that I could, I moved on to the 3D/4D movie to learn the thrilling process of how milk starts at the cow and ends at the super market (you might want to skip that if you’re not one for water in your face when you least expect it).
Feeling refreshed, I walked through the next exhibit showcasing how the process has developed over the centuries. I also learned how and what the cows are fed and what goes into storing their food. Did you know that they eat up to TWENTY TIMES THEIR WEIGHT in a whole YEAR? It felt like an exhibit at a pricey science museum, but you barely paid anything to learn all of it!
I was so full on learning that I hardly realized I was hungry. That is, until I walked out of the main building outside. I made a quick check to see if the green light was lit at the birthing barn (meaning a calf was at that moment being born), saw that it was red and made my way straight towards the gift shop and café. The second I walked in, I was assaulted with the smell of melting cheese on bread. It was like God smiling down and saying, “Yes, my children. Cheese is one of the best gifts I’ve given to the culinary world. Indulge yourselves.”
Oh, but I did. I mean, look at the choices!
Sweet Swiss, Harvarti Pepper, Mozzarella, Smoked Provolone…I’m getting hungry just typing these delicious cheese selections. Before making a purchase of any of these bad boys, you are welcome to try everything. Then, if you still have room, you can make your way to the other line that is waiting to make your grilled cheese dreams come true. That or you can sample their “we’re mean and only sell it at the farm” ice cream. I guess what I’m saying is that you have a fat kid’s dream at your disposal.
With my bag heavy and full of four of Fair Oaks Farms finest, I saw that the light had turned from yellow to green and a calf was on its way. I made my way over there and quickly realized what a poor choice it was. The last time my sister and I had visited, we watched one of the most excruciating births the farm had seen. (Un)Luckily for the heifer this time, we had shown our faces once again and she was in for one rough birth. Sensing that it was our fault, we hightailed it out of there and realized it was time to go home.
We didn’t think we could handle all the sights and sounds of the bus tour this time around, but if you are interested in spending a fun afternoon learning something new and tasting some good eats, you can find the hours, prices and everything else that Fair Oaks has to offer here.
If you’ll excuse me, that Harvarti Onion and pita crackers won’t eat themselves.