Why the Tree of Life?


Jersey Barnyard

Welcome to the Jersey Barnyard! Home of Belle, Blue Bell Ice Cream's famous spokescow. We didn't even know she lived here, so we got to meet her quite by accident.

So what was the real reason behind our trip? To tour the dairy, of course! We visited with the goats,

fed them a little feed as fast as we could get it out of our cups,

fed some ducks and piglets,

said hi to some bunnies and baby chicks,

and even got to feed a bottle of milk to a calf!

The boys had to hold on for dear life; talk about a sucking reflex. I think they'd suck the skin off a finger. Needless to say, the milk was gone in about five seconds.

While we waited for the tractor to get ready, the boys wandered through a hay maze. Dunagan decided to come sit with me, but Kirven eventually made it through to the end.

Then we went for a hay ride out to the milking barn!

And here's a tip for if you ever visit: go around 3pm, because milking time is at 4pm. We got to see all the dozens and dozens of cows streaming in from the pastures to be milked. Normally, they just hunt a cow down, tie her up to a tree, and you get to try your hand at hand-milking. We got to see the machinery in action though! If you know Kirven and Dunagan, you know they were fascinated.

Stepping down into the milking parlor, we saw how they sanitize the equipment and then hook them up. I can't remember the numbers now, but I think each cow gives 8-10 gallons a day. That's a lot of milk.

Then we each got to try while the guide kept the cow from kicking us in the face.

It was pretty easy, and each of us had a successful turn. Then we got back on the hay ride, and headed back to the storefront. Along the way, I asked if it was still ok if I could get some cream to take home with us (I had emailed beforehand), but they had decided it wasn't going to work out as I had hoped since it would violate the restrictions around raw milk. I had plans of us taking cream home from the dairy and making butter.

Well, we could always have ice cream; Blue Bell, of course, and we did! It was the perfect treat after a sunny hayride. I also decided to buy some of their cheese, which they did have available for sale. As I was looking in their fridge, I noticed a single carton of HEB cream. I asked them if I could buy it, and they said I could, so I did. Our butter-making project was saved! I really wanted the boys to connect the cows and the dairy with the milk products that we buy; that there are living, breathing animals behind what we eat.

Even Ayla enjoyed this trip. She was able to run free for much of it, and pet many of the animals. The chickens intimidated her quite a bit, but she was ready to climb behind the fence with Belle the cow, maybe because Belle didn't have a pointy beak.

If you're in Austin, it's worth the drive out to La Grange for a visit. It took us about an hour and a half. You can stop at the Whataburger on the way back home. As usual, I told the boys that this was their last Whataburger ever, and that they better enjoy it... we are going to stop eating fast food after this. As usual, they saw through me. They know my weakness for fries and a coke. And they exploit it.

Check back soon to see what we did with our cream!


  1. Oh cool! Didn't know about this place. We'll have to try it!

  2. Jennifer,
    For a minute there, I thought you may be in NJ where I am located...LOL. Well, it looks like a great time was had regardless. I love all your photos, but that one of Ayla in front of the red/window could be entered in a contest it is so amazingly beautful. Great memories to gather. I also read up on Enki a bit and was very intrigued. I think it sounds like a great way to go and especially with younger children. Enjoy!
    Jan Lyn

  3. What a fantastic "field trip!" Love the photos!

  4. LOL, your right, those baby cows are serious about that milk! We went to a farm once and fed them and WHOA, they are so funny and cute. :)

    What a sweet day you had.