For a fun, Autumn adventure we went to Van Ommering Dairy Farm’s Pumpkin Patch. We do consume dairy products so a behind the scenes look at how we get that milk is a great educational and fun experience for families with kids of all ages. Combining that with a celebration of pumpkins made for a perfect October adventure.
First stop was the cotton seed hill, which I have to admit is my kids’ favorite part. It’s a southern California farm version of sledding.
Then we gathered at the tractor ride depot for a lesson on pumpkin growing. I have to admit, I found the presentation lack luster. She seemed to be just going through the motions without much passion for the subject matter. It could be because I don’t think they actually grow the pumpkins on the property. Perhaps as homeschoolers we are spoiled in often learning things from people who are truly passionate about what they do, whatever their speciality may be. We had visited a true pumpkin farm the year before where the farmer was so excited and the kids absorbed all that information on the subject of gourds through her infectious excitement.
Next we boarded the hay tractor ride driven by the dairy farmer. This was, of course, a fun part of the experience.
This was the part of the day I was most looking forward to: the tour of the actual operating dairy farm. We had done this tour in years past and it was wonderful; we learned so much about the entire process. We drove through the cow stables, met the bulls and newborns, learned about the methane harvesting (so eco friendly), saw the showers, got out and walked through the milking barn, seeing a couple cows actually being milked, then saw the milk storage and the kids pen. I remember it feeling wrong to all of us that the children were separated from their mothers at only months old and so my son asked the farmer about this and she responded, “Because we’re running a dairy here! The kids would drink all the milk!” Obviously, I think the cows’ own children should get priority but I appreciate being shown everything and seeing how it all actually happens. This farm had been in the family for generations and it was obvious in a good way. It gave us all a lot to think about in making informed choices for our food sources.
This time, not so much. The tour only involved driving through the cow pen and then back to the station. He stopped in the cow pen and got out to talk and show us the new baby calf that had just been born. He jumped in the stall and shoved (we all cringed) the newborn away from its mother to a place he thought we could all see better. It was neat to see a calf so young. But then that was it.
I love the way families can be together bonding AND socializing with friends through homeschooling.
After the tractor ride/tour, we were again free to play around the huge property. Given the expanded play zones and the limited dairy farm touring, it seems the Van Ommerings have shifted to being more of a neat playground, which isn’t bad (my children had a blast – it was a really fun playtime), just different than prior years and not exactly what we were expecting.
All in all, it was a really fun day. The weather ended up being perfect, the children had a blast, and the adults all enjoyed themselves. I wish the Van Ommerings hadn’t lost so much of the dairy farm heart that made them a special place for us in their pursuit of attraction style income, but I do wish them the best. In past years I remember them talking a lot about family owned business and supporting small farms. That wasn’t present anymore but that moral still rings in my ears and I wish them the best.
When my kids saw me loading up these pictures for this post, they all said, “That was fun!” So there you go – kid recommended.