Getting to Know Food
Jacob Schmicker visits a dairy farm that has turned itself into a tourist destination
The state of Indiana has a long history of raising various domesticated animals . These domesticated animals are often referred to as livestock, which are essentially animals that are raised in an agricultural setting for the purpose of producing various resources and commodities. These resources and commodities can be things such as: meat, fiber, fertilizer, and dairy products to name a short list. The last item listed, dairy products, is a key commodity that nearly all individuals consume. Fair Oaks farm is a large farm located in central Indiana that produces all sorts of dairy products and openly invites the general public to come tour their massive facility in order to understand how this farm produces dairy products that it makes available for purchase by consumers.
Fair Oaks dairy farm is conveniently located right off of Interstate 65 in between the cities of Indianapolis and Chicago. Its location makes it a viable travel option for many young and old individuals from all walks of life. This central Indiana attraction truly does entertain guests from an array of ethnic backgrounds and I personally experienced this during my time at the dairy farm. It was quite apparent that there are many individuals that have a vested interest in how various dairy products are produced and distributed for whole sale here in Indiana. I experienced this particular phenomenon by observing the large charter buses that brought individuals from hours away in order to educate themselves and tour this massive dairy farm. I believe it is obvious from this occurrence that individuals care about how their food is processed before they as consumers purchase and ingest it.
With the up and coming attraction known as the “Pig Adventure” further bolsters this assumption that individuals truly care about how their food is handled and processed before landing on their dinner plate. The “Pig Adventure” is essentially going to be an attraction that allows visitors the opportunity to tour a large pig farm at one of the Fair Oaks Farms. After speaking with the employees at the dairy farm, they explained that they are expecting just as high attendance with the “Pig Adventure” as they have experienced with the dairy farm attraction. The employees explained that this new attraction has been gathering a tremendous amount of anticipation and excitement from large and diverse groups of citizens. It was obvious that the Fair Oaks dairy farm is anticipating this new attraction to be a tremendous hit for the farm and would not be creating it if they felt otherwise. At the dairy farm there was an array of activities that individuals could partake in during their time at the farm.
The adventure at the dairy farm begins in the central building at the farm. Here individuals can learn an enormous amount about a cow’s chemical makeup and its life cycle. One can learn things such as that a cow has four stomachs or that the cow’s milk that comes from this dairy farm is not pasteurized until it reaches another facility. Guest can also enhance their milking skills by practicing on an automated system that resembles something similar to a NASCAR pit stop. Here at this informative workshop we’ll call it, visitors learn how the cows are milked at the dairy farm and then get to race other individuals at milking a cow using an automated system. The adventure certainly does not stop there.
Visitors, as shown in the picture above, have the opportunity to ride in a comfortable bus while getting an up close and personal tour of the actual dairy farm itself that is located at Fair Oaks. The tour has a guild that explains the history of the dairy farm and all the relevant aspects of it. The tour bus literally drives right through the cattle barns. The cattle barns house thousands upon thousands of cattle and were extremely well kept. This bus tour also allowed for the dairy farms innovative creations to be seen. One interesting aspect that the farm utilizes is how it powers certain items using the cattle’s waste.
During this bus tour one is enabled the opportunity to observe how the milking process occurs at the farm. The cows step onto a very large rotating wheel in which the cows are milked on while it rotates in a circular motion. The wheel takes roughly eight minutes to rotate completely around and at the time of completing one rotation the cow is done milking and ready to step off the wheel. A picture of this process can be seen above. The cows at this dairy farm are usually milked twice a day. The milk that the cow produces is right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit and is almost immediately chilled to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Though, the adventure certainly does not stop there.
Fair Oak dairy farm visitors have the unique and exciting opportunity to watch an actual cow give birth. This activity takes place roughly once every half an hour. Visitors sit in a theater like setting for this particular event. This event was extremely interesting and intriguing and allowed visitors to have an experience that most individuals would otherwise not have unless they visited Fair Oaks dairy farm. This event is the epitome of the whole idea of getting back and involved with the farm and the various activities that take place on it.
After touring the facility, visitors have the opportunity to taste test and purchase an array of dairy products that the farms resources produce. Some of these products include all different kinds of butters, milks, cheeses, yogurts, and various flavors of ice creams. The dairy farm has all kinds of attractive and informative events that are scattered throughout the summer. Overall, Fair Oaks dairy farm is a great way for one to learn more about agricultural products and processes. By learning more about these areas individual consumers will be more informed about the items they are purchasing and ingesting.
Wiltrout, Nicole. “A Pitstop at Fair Oaks Farms.” The Indiana Insider Blog. N.p., 12 Nov. 2010. Web. 14 June 2013. <http://www.in.gov/visitindiana/blog/index.php/2010/11/12/a-pitstop-at-fair-oaks-farms/picture-096/>.
Wiltrout, Nicole. “Milk Cow Music Festival at Fair Oaks Farms.” The Indiana Insider Blog. N.p., 23 May 2012. Web. 14 June 2013. <http://www.in.gov/visitindiana/blog/index.php/2012/05/23/milk-cow-music-festival-at-fair-oaks-farms/fair-oaks-farms-3/>.