Are your children already bored during their summer vacation from school? Want to find a fun way to exercise both their bodies and minds?
Blue Ribbon Dairy in Elmore County has the solution for you and your kids – a farm field trip to learn about how the milk they drink is produced, plus ice cream samples that turn the lesson into tasty fun.
The fourth-generation family farm near the crossroads community of Kent is open daily through the summer for visitors to tour the operation and enjoy some of the 15 ice cream flavors made in an on-site processing facility. If any calves are around, visitors can bottle-feed them.
Mid-afternoon is prime time on the farm because it’s milking time. Twice daily, including at 3:30 p.m., farm owner Michaela Wilson and her mother, PJ, round up the farm’s roughly three-dozen Jersey, Holstein, and Brown Swiss cows and milk them in a barn built by Wilson’s great grandfather in 1947.
Pony rides also are available on the farm Thursday through Sunday. Admission for the farm tour is $5 per person, two and under are admitted free. Pony rides are $5 each. Cash, check, Venmo only, please, the farm says. For the cows’ sakes, Blue Ribbon asks visitors to leave their dogs at home.
Blue Ribbon is one of several small-batch dairies around Alabama that produce milk and related products including cheese. Most, like Blue Ribbon, raise cows while some, including Dayspring Dairy in Gallant, herd sheep.
Milk from Blue Ribbon is distinct from the mass-produced jugs and cartons sold at the supermarket.
For one, it’s minimally pasteurized, warmed to 145 degrees for 30 minutes, enough to kill harmful bacteria while limiting the loss of vitamins, flavor and mouthfeel from prolonged heating.
Blue Ribbon milk also is not homogenized, a standard process of centrifuging the liquid to blend the whole milk and more-buoyant cream. The cream rises to the top of Blue Ribbon milk, a throwback to the days when every county had a local dairy and the whole industry was less – ahem – homogenized. Called “cream-line,” the non-homogenized milk purportedly is easier to digest for people with a sensitivity to lactose.
Finally, it’s hard to find milk that’s fresher than Blue Ribbon. Made in small batches with a limited distribution area, its milk flows from cow to jug within 24 hours and is delivered to retailers by Micaela and her father.
“Milk so fresh the cows don’t miss it,” Blue Ribbon Dairy brags. “Our milk is as smooth as a cow’s moo.”
Regular and chocolate milk, as well as pints and half-pints of Blue Ribbon ice cream, are sold in the farm’s on-site store, so bring a cooler and ice packs. Located roughly 10 miles northwest of Tallassee, the farm’s address is 5290 Chana Creek Road (36078).
Blue Ribbon Dairy milk products also are sold at these retail stores and farmers markets:
- Tallassee – Corner Store, Super Foods (Gilmore Avenue and Notasulga Road stores)
- Auburn – Coffee Mafia, Lulu’s Bakery
- Wetumpka – Emerald Mountain Country Store, Bar J Farms, George’s Butchery, Piggly Wiggly
- Millbrook – Food Outlet
- Prattville – Kendrick’s Farm Market
- Opelika – Parkway Farmers Market. Tiger Town Eagle Convenience Store
- Eclectic – Piggly Wiggly
- Deatsville – Piggly Wiggly
- Montgomery – Piggly Wiggly, Renfroe’s Market
- New Site – Piggly Wiggly
- Pike Road – Sweet Creek Farm Market
- Dadeville – Renfroe’s Market
- Alexander City – Renfroe’s Market
- Birmingham – Farmers Market at Pepper Place