Real Milk .. Happy Cows

We have been buying real, unpasteurized milk for a few months now from another homeschool family. As we had recently enjoyed a field trip to a local dairy processing plant, Eberhard’s Dairy, I wanted to show the kids the alternative.  I thereby made arrangements with the family and we were encouraged to invite a few friends to join us. 
We arrived early in the morning, just in time to see how the milking machine is hooked up to the cow.  I didn’t get a picture, but the young woman pictured here moments before took the time to prep and cleanse the cow with iodine.  Notice, she also tied up the cows tail to keep it out of the way. 
The milking machine was underway and the kids then entertained themselves observing the young calf and playing with the barn cat.  It was cold and snowy outside so the heat lamp was on for the calf’s comfort.  

After the 3 gallon tank (if I recall the volume correctly) was filled, it was taken into the kitchen and poured into smaller jars for those (like us) who partake in the herd-share program.  It was fun to watch the kids’ enthusiasm and interest in the entire process.  The kids that had also taken part in the trip to Eberhard’s were especially intrigued.

When the trip concluded, I treated the kids to hot cocoa with real milk.  It was delicious and the perfect way to culminate the experience. 

Eberhard’s :: Field Trip

Earlier this week, we had the delightful opportunity to visit our local dairy.  The family owned business was started by Jack and Nelda Eberhard in 1951, and today is operated by 2nd generation, Bob, and 3rd generation, Mark. The experienced staff at Eberhard’s Dairy Products, consisting of 50 people, has over 460 years of combined experience in the dairy products business.  Eberhard’s offers a full line of locally manufactured milks, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter and ice creams under the Eberhard’s Quality Chekd label (since 1983).

In the photo above, Bob Ebherhard begins our tour showing us the room where the temperature of the storage tanks (pictured at top) are controlled. The raw milk is brought to these tanks daily and they process the milk from one tank at a time.

From here, we all donned hair nets and proceeded into the processing plant where we followed the milk through the process of pasteurization and homogenization.  We also visited the room in which sour cream and cottage cheese is made. The picture below shows where the pasteurized milk is poured into the jugs (background) and the label is attached (foreground). 

The picture below shows a portion of the machinery with which ice cream is produced.  Bob explained that they now use ammonia as their freezing agent (which is still the most efficient way to operate).  We learned that at Eberhard’s 20 different flavors are manufactured, 13 of which are available only in gallon sizes.  The most popular flavor, making up over 50% of their ice cream sales, is vanilla.  Three vanilla varieties are made … vanilla, french vanilla and vanilla bean.
 

We were shown how the milk crates are sanitized before the product is loaded (a mechanized case washer that transports stacks of crates along a conveyor belt), the dry storage area, and the cold room.  We also briefly stepped into the freezer storage, the largest (7,000 sq. ft. + 24’ high) and coldest (20°) storage freezer in Central Oregon.  

It was a very informative trip and we enjoyed every moment. Bob was very gracious to open his plant to us and the kiddos now feel a special bond with Moo Moo Belle, pointing her out when we see her face on the trucks and product labels in the stores.