Thank you to Indiana Family of Farmers for sponsoring this post, and Liz and the entire crew of Kelsay Farms for your hospitality!
The past few days have been HOT, which is an unwelcome temperature once September hits. I don’t know why I always expect September to be cool. My Big Boy was born in mid-September of 2005, and I can guarantee you that spending my last couple of pregnant weeks in September was NOT the cool break from summer temps that I’d been hoping for.
Never fear, though, because today I am going to give you the perfect activity to cool things off AND keep your kids entertained. But first, a story…
When my Big Boy was born, we had a cat named Maya. Maya (who is still with us, by the way) went to live with my mother-in-law for the first few months of Big Boy’s life, because I was a paranoid new mother and convinced the cat would suffocate him in his sleep. She came back once Big Boy started crawling. Immediately, my boy thought this was the GREATEST THING EVER. From that moment at six months old until this day, that kid loves animals. He’s walked dogs at the Humane Society, cuddled with friends cats while they’re on vacation, and one of his favorite places to visit is the animal barn at Conner Prairie. So when Liz Kelsay invited us out to Kelsay Farms to tour their dairy farm, let’s just say my Big Boy was over the moon excited.
Kelsay Farms is located in Whiteland, IN, and is home to about five hundred dairy cows. Can you even imagine? I have a hard time keeping up with 2 kids, let alone keeping up with the needs of 500 living creatures. Not only do these cows need to be fed and milked, there are new calves being born every single day of the year at Kelsay Farms.
Happy Cows Don’t Moo (but Little Man Does)
Another side story: when Little Man was a tiny boy, his nickname was Moo. This came from Big Boy, who is 23 months his senior, saying one day, as the baby Little Man was crying, “he’s a grumpy moo today.” What he MEANT to say was, “he’s in a grumpy mood,” but two year olds say things adorably wrong. Hence Little Man became our Grumpy Moo for a couple of years, before he grew into daredevil ways and the nickname Monkey, which has stuck better than Moo. However, one thing we learned on our visit to the farm was that happy cows don’t moo much. If a cow is content, it’s usually pretty quiet. So the most mooing we heard on the farm came from the new babies, who have to be bottle fed and are therefore a little grumpier than their mommies and big sisters. I jokingly pointed out that Little Man constantly whines for food, or whines that the food I give him isn’t good enough, making him the moo-er of our family. Now every time he whines, I moo at him. I don’t think he’s as amused by this as I am.
While on our visit, we had the opportunity to feed those baby calves, which was definitely the highlight of the day for all of us. There were seven or eight calves on the day we were there. It was so neat to see their different personalities. Some wanted their food right that moment, others were content to wait. Little Man thought it was hilarious that all of the calves he fed were stinkers. The first was kind of a jerk and was prepared to push all the others out of its way to get to that bottle. The second was picky and would only eat if Little Man held the bottle in the exact right position.
In addition to feeding the calves, we got to see where the adults live and the food they eat. Both of these things depend on their age and where they are in their cycle (if they are pregnant, they need different nutrients than cows that are “normal,” or ones that are still maturing to adulthood). Kelsay Farms has vets and nutritionists come out every couple of weeks or so to make sure the cows are healthy and are getting all the nutrients they need at the different stages of their lives. We also got to see the cows being milked. Because there are about five hundred cows, milking is a full-time job. Well, the full-time job of a few people, I guess! There are three different shifts for milking. I was overwhelmed by how efficient the milking process is, and am pretty sure I would never be good enough to do it. The cows file in, teats are cleaned, pumps are attached to said teats, the milking happens, then everything is cleaned again and the next group files in. Whew!
Through the month of October, Kelsay Farms is a great destination in agritourism. They offer a 7-acre corn maze, rope maze, hay rides, play areas, and SO MUCH MORE. Beginning October 2, they are open from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Fridays, noon – 10 p.m. Saturdays, and noon – 6 p.m. on Sundays through November 1. During the weeks of October 12 and 19 (Fall break), they’re also open weekdays from noon – 6 p.m. Cost is $8 per person (children 1 and under free).
Kelsay Farms offers homeschool tours! Here’s what you need to know:
They offer Spring or Fall field trips. Spring is 1.5 hours and includes a tour, game, dairy treat, and goodie bag. Fall is 2 hours. It is the tour, treat, goodie bag, and then an hour’s worth of free play in their fall fun areas.
The field trip cost is $5 per person (23 months and younger free), with a minimum of 15 people. The coordinator of the trip collects all the money beforehand and makes one payment on the day of the trip (cash or check).
They can accommodate groups of any age, whether elementary, middle, or high school students.
Make your reservations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Ice Cream in a Bag
Inspired by our visit to the dairy farm, we gathered up all our favorite dairy products and went outside to make some ice cream in a bag! This is one of the quickest, easiest, and tastiest ways to entertain your kids on a hot day. Or any day, really!
First, gather up your ingredients. You need heavy cream, milk, vanilla, and sugar. For strawberry ice cream you’ll also need 2 Tbsp of strawberry puree. For chocolate, add 1-2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa. I’d sift the cocoa first. We didn’t and Big Boy ended up with some unsweetened chocolate chunks in his ice cream. He didn’t seem to mind much, but, eww. You’ll also need a quart size ziploc, galloon size ziploc, and a lot of ice and rock salt (per serving). We used Kosher instead of Rock salt and it worked out just fine.
Next, put all your ingredients in the quart size Ziploc bag. Seal it really well.
Place the quart size bag full of ingredients inside the gallon size bag. Again, make sure the quart size is sealed well or this could get messy fast. Now fill the gallon size bag about 3/4 full of ice. Dump about 1/4 cup of salt on top of the ice, then seal the gallon size bag.
Finally, in the immortal words of Outkast, “shake it like a Polaroid picture!” Shake your bag for about 10-15 minutes. Throw it up in the air, toss it to your brother, do a little dance, whatever works for you. When you’re done, open it up, stick a spoon in it, and enjoy!
- 1 quart size Ziploc bag
- 1 gallon size Ziploc bag
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp pureed strawberries (optional, if you want strawberry ice cream)
- 2 Tbsp sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (optional, if you want chocolate ice cream)
- rock salt
- Combine all ingredients (except ice and salt) in quart-size Ziploc bag; seal well.
- Place quart bag inside gallon-size Ziploc bag.
- Fill gallon bag 3/4 full with ice.
- Cover ice in salt, about 1/4 cup; seal bag well.
- Shake bag for 10-15 minutes.