So we did something pretty cool this morning. We took a holiday tour of the Shamrock Farms dairy farm! Of course, I got us crazy lost -- we overshot the offramp by about 20 miles; oops -- but we made it in time to catch the tour, which was, conveniently, running about 15 minutes late. Sadly, Lisa was still later than us, so she and Chris missed out on the tour. I'm still bummed by that. Anyway, the tour took us on a tram ride through part of the cow pastures first. But then it dropped us at a little play/adventure park where we could: put our fingers in a milking machine to feel what the pressure is like (not unlike a massage, actually; that's mine and Katy's fingers being milked to the left); take pictures on large, life-size plastic cows; walk through a wall maze to a raised platform (where Sydney knocked off Brian's glasses and they broke); and play in a small, children's area. Following that, we "hoofed it" over to the milking area, where we got to watch the cows file into the milking stalls and get milked, and then leave. We watched a video there, too, on the process of getting milk from the cow to the grocery store.
Interesting facts: The milk is never touched by human hands; the cows are pampered like queens; there are 25 to 30 calves born every day; the cows establish their own pecking order and follow that order moving in and out of the milking area; Shamrock makes more flavors of milk than any other company in the country; and milk goes from cow to bottle in three hours.
We took the tram around more of the farm, past the nursery where the baby cows live, around more pastures, and finally, back to the main barn. There, we were offered Krispy Kreme donuts and milk (of course), and were joined by both Roxie the cow and Santa Claus! Sydney didn't want any part of either of them, though we did manage to get her to interact with them a bit ... from a distance. We had some fresh, fresh, fresh ice cream; Lisa bought Sydney a bunch of stuff at the gift shop; and then we got to play in the "snow." I quote that word because even though there was supposed to be tons of snow made at the farm for the occasion, the snow-making machine was not working, and all we got was a good-size pile of soft ice, really, in the middle of the parking lot. As disappointed as we were, Sydney totally dug it. She threw all kinds of snow at her mommy (at Daddy's urging, natch), and climbed, played and threw some more.
The smell? Not so bad, actually. Of course, it was ick, but it has to have been less toxic then rolling through that place in July or August. (Tara assures me that this is true.) Really, I think I'll make the holiday tour an annual event. Yay cows!