It was their grand opening celebration, so we were treated to not only free milk, ice cream, and cheese, but a tour of both the farm and the processing plant as well. They have a stock car sponsored by them and Thonys Think Tank, which has the unfortunate distinction of having poor grammar on their portion of the car. I immediately thought of "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" when I saw this one.
It was a fantastic time, and I was happy to see a thriving family farm. There was a 5 day old calf, and they had a contest to name her. M chose "Mary", which I suppose we could consider a deceptively simple selection. Later on we got to see some just-about-to-calve cows, including one who was about to give birth - was actually starting to give birth. I myself was a bit freaked out by it, if only because it reminded me of the last time I gave birth (to M). It was a long time ago, but I won't soon forget the experience. Ah, the circle of life.
The Sassy Cow Creamery processes milk from Baerwolf Farms. Brothers Rob and James are the farmers, and only milk from their cows goes through the dairy. Chuck the Plant Manager took us through for a tour of the processing facility, which is right behind the retail shop.
They process both organic and conventional milk there, and it all starts here, where milk is pumped in to one of two tanks (organic in one, conventional in the other). Chuck explained that organic milk is always run first and on clean equipment so that no conventional milk is in the product.
There were huge pallets of plastic bottles which looked really cool. Then we walked through some rubber mats with "soapy" water in them. Chuck explained that the footbath was part of the food safety precautions they took in the plant, because of the potentially dangerous bacteria Listeria. So we all left slightly soapy-looking foot prints in our wake.
All of the processing equipment looked really interesting. We learned how the milk comes in and goes out at 40 degrees, but in between is heated to 166.9, which is the pasteurization point. It goes from that temperature back down to 40 degrees by being run through a chiller.And this thing has something to do with the butterfat content of whatever they are processing, but I can't remember what it does. Basically it sounds as if they separate the milk from the cream and then mix them back up in the right proportions (for skim, 2%, etc.).
The freestall open barn was interesting. The cows who were close to giving birth were on hay but the other cows we saw were "sand bedded", which was supposed to be comfortable for them. The cows were pretty non plussed by all of us walking through, and some were even comfortable getting pet on the head or neck.
Baerwolf Farms/Sassy Cow are going to be coming to the Cows on the Concourse with many other dairy farms and cows on Saturday June 7. It's a fun time with lots and lots of dairy foods to eat and cows to meet. Definitely recommended, especially if you can't get out to the farm.
I picked up some locally produced cheese and the ever-tasty Potter's Crackers from here in Madison, as well as a half-gallon of milk. It tickles me to drink milk from a farm I've seen, touched, and smelled.
Sassy Cow Creamery Milk is sold in Madison (I saw their Organic stuff at Woody's East for a mere 5.79 USD a gallon), and around Dane county. Check out their website for more info about the farms and dairy.
I definitely think a visit to The Sassy Cow Creamery is in our future again, even if they are not having a special event. It is a short drive with some really pretty scenery, and I'm sure we can find more places to visit nearby.
See Palmer's post for more pictures (including the cow about to give birth).
Okay, so I didn't win *anything* in the raffle, and there were only three porta-potties this year (I swear there were at least 4 at past events), and I couldn't inveigle anyone in my family to come. Besides those small things, the 11th Annual WORT Block Party was a raging success. I even remembered to wear sun screen on my face so I only have the lightest hint of colour from my hours in the sun.
I think it is fair to say that this Block Party is a must attend tradition for me. Palmer had to be in Chicago, so unfortunately I was on my own for a chunk of the day, but there was plenty to see and do and tons of folks to talk to.
First off, I have to say that WORT volunteers are amazing. I can count myself in their number in an extremely limited capacity, but I see the same dedicated people at event after event, promoting the station, doing community events, and generally just being a presence off air. This was a great block party to be a part of and the block party goers and vendors were all pretty swell.
Cindy is the sweetest poodle. She was rocking a skull and crossbones doggie sweater. Last year I saw her hanging out in the basket of her human's bike. She's a WORT Block Party regular, too!
It was such a fun day! The weather was odd, partly cloudy most of the day, sometimes quite chilly until the sun came out, but it stayed dry. The music was fun, and I took pictures of all the bands but none of them came out very well. The Nob Hill Boys started the day off with bluegrass and had the crowd eating out of their hands by the end of the set.
Conspicuously absent from my photographic record are any pictures of the "No Crap on Tap" beer table, brought out by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters. Considering how much time I spent near it, I don't know how I got away without even one photograph. How odd.
I did, however, get a picture of my first beer and my lunch. The beer was a Flanders Ned Red from Grumpy Troll in Mount Horeb. It was fresh and tangy with a sour flavour. Really nice beer. Went perfectly with my Dorowat on Injera from Buraka (so happy they were there this year). I ran into lots of folks I knew, some who I inveigled to come down to the Block Party, some who were staff and volunteers at the station, and the rest just folks I've known from as far back as 18 years and as recently as a month. There were tons of families there, including one with a two-year old who was such a fan of Rockin' John that he made him a card. I overheard his folks saying that they listened to his show every week and the kid couldn't get enough. He was pretty thrilled to meet his radio hero.
Here are the friends of mine I managed to take pictures of, I'm kind of bummed that I didn't take *more* photos. I guess after 3 Grumpy Troll Beers (the Flanders, the Spetznaz Stout and the ass-kicking Maggie IPA) and a delicious Lake Louie Brew that I couldn't even finish, I wasn't much for picture taking.
So I dragged myself out to Gomeroke last night and had a grand time. My dates bailed on me and Palmer had to be up early to travel out of town, so I was on my own. Hesitated on the sign up and found myself near the bottom of the second set - I really *did* try to pace myself (even drank some water, go me!), but I think it's safe to say I was not sober by the time I got up to sing.
Being their anniversary show, there were plenty of performers and audience members who were really revved up about the event, and some great performances. I will definitely be scheduling another Gomeroke night, because it is fun.
It was a good time, people were gracious afterward, and I ended up running into someone that I hadn't seen in a while and bitched about school, which is a nice thing to do every now and again. Got myself a nice cab home and was safe and sound in my bed by 1am watching Battlestar Galactica, which my friend T has been kind enough to addict me to.
So Palmer and I managed to get ourselves to the Northside Farmer's Market this morning, and it was cold and rainy, and frankly, I had no patience for taking pictures or noting exactly what vendors were there.
I *do* know that I was able to use my Quest card to purchase tokens which I exchanged with vendors for food items. I picked up a bag of really nice (well washed) spinach, two bags of rhubarb, a few nice hot house tomatoes, some delicious italian sesame seed cookies (which were, apparently, my Mother's Day gift to myself, as I ate them all), and some green onions.
I used the tomatoes and spinach for M Day brunch, and I'm looking forward to making a crumb topped rhubarb pie tomorrow.
At some point later in the season I'll do a proper post with pictures and more of a rundown of what's available at the market. Today there were a lot of gorgeous flowers available, but I'm just not shopping for plants at the moment.
One nice touch were colourful paper bags with "Happy Mother's Day" stamped on them and little pansie plants inside, free for the taking. So I have one plant to try and keep alive. Wish me luck.
So, in case you didn't know, the Dulcinea is flat broke. Well, not busted, but due to medical complaints she hasn't been working for a while. Wisconsin Foodshare is back in play for our household (money for the little one, but not for me), so I'm looking forward to using our "Quest" card (the electronic replacement for paper food stamps) at the Willy St. Co-op to buy local foods.
The Northside Market is on Sundays, and I haven't gone this year (this past Sunday Opened the Market). Perhaps this week, as I'll be in the market for fresh local eggs and honey, never mind some good locally produced meat and whatever vegetable matter has become available thus far (ooh, it looks like RHUBARB and SPINACH are expected!!!! Squee!).
I've been focusing on eating more locally produced things, which means getting my chocolate from Gail Ambrosius, my beer from anywhere in Wisconsin (more on beer another day) and this evening, my ice cream from The Chocolate Shoppe, via Woodman's.