Over the past year, our family has been interested in learning more about where our food comes from, whether it’s locally or abroad. As a family, we’ve watched documentaries, tried new foods, and even cooked more meals together. When my husband and I were invited by the American Dairy Association & American Dairy Council for their November New York State Dairy Tour #NYSDairyTour2014, we were ecstatic.
The tour was located in upstate New York, around Lake Geneva and the beauty of wine country. While we were wined, dined, and taken on amazing tours (more on that later this week), spending time at Patterson Farms really opened our eyes.
Patterson Farms is located in Auburn, NY. This family-owned farm was founded in 1832, and has been a six-generation family business. The Patterson family was amazing to watch. Jon, Julie and their 3 kids took pride in every single facet of their farm. From the way their milking parlors worked, to the recycling of materials used and produced on the farm, the professionalism of the Pattersons was admirable. Jon and Julie affectionately calls the cows their “girls,” since they take care of over 1,000 females.
The humane treatment of the girls was astounding. They are milked 3 times a day, and are given 60 days of rest time each year, where they are taken out to pasture to relax. Did you know that cows create their own “clique of friends?” Jon also mentioned that the girls have their favorite stations where they like to be milked and will wait until that station is open. I love that! We even got to interact with a few calfs that were only hours old. Julie shared with us the mixture they use to feed the cows, and how each part is essential to the well being of their girls. They used fermented hay, cotton seed, and some other really cool ingredients.
During a special dinner, the husband and I were fortunate enough to sit with Jon and Julie. We bombarded them with a ton of questions, especially about their children. We learned how important the 4H club has become in their lives, that their children save up their own money to buy their own cows for 4H showings, and that they take their farm duties seriously. As parents of a newly homeschooled child, hearing how the Pattersons encourage their children to learn the family business was a discussion that we will treasure forever.
On Wednesday, I’ll share some of the cool things we got to do and see at the Cayuga Milk Ingredients Plant. Stay tuned!
I was invited on a #NYSDairyTour2014 press tour by the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council. The American Dairy Association & Dairy Council provided all meals, travel stipends and accommodations. While we were invited, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.