Have you ever gone camping on an organic dairy farm? I did — at the 2nd Annual Camping with the Cows event on Memorial Day weekend at Organic Pastures, the biggest raw milk dairy in the world.
Organic Pastures is an organic dairy farm in California where cows are on pasture 365 days a year.
This is the McAfee family. From left to right: Aaron, Mark, Kayleigh, and Blaine. Mark and Blaine, husband and wife, are the founders and owners of Organic Pastures, and Aaron and Kayleigh their children. It is a family business that they are very passionate about.
Mark and Blaine, a retired paramedic and nurse, are some of the happiest grandparents I know. They're young, healthy, have their kids and grandkids living and working on the farm, and they're fulfilling their mission to help people be healthy by providing raw milk, one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.
Our family is new to camping. I haven't been camping in years and I'm not sure if my husband ever has. It was our daughter, Kate's first time camping.
We didn't even own a tent. So we headed over to REI and bought all of our supplies — a tent, a tarp, some sleeping mats, sleeping bags, and headlamps.
We packed a cooler for the potluck, and headed to Fresno (a 3-4 hour drive from LA).
Raw milk lovers came from all over California.
One thing I was worried about was the bathrooms. I was nervous we were going to have to use Porta-Potties. But they had the fanciest mobile bathrooms I've ever seen. They had flushing toilets, sinks with running water. And air-conditioning!
We got to go on a tour of the dairy and we learned all about the different types of cows at Organic Pastures from Blaine McAfee.
Isn't she cute?
Aaron McAfee took us on a hayride tour.
These girls are pregnant. They keep the pregnant cows separate from the herd, in a sheltered place with plenty of shade and water where it's less stressful for them.
They don't stand in manure (like most dairies) because there is water running which keeps it clean. And of course, there's no smell (unlike most other dairies).
After the hayride, there was a milk chugging contest and the kids got to paint the haywagon.
Then we got ready for the potluck dinner.
Mark gave a speech.
He said, “This is why we do what we do, for the children.”
My friend Heather's precious little girl gave Mark a letter she wrote to him, thanking him for the raw milk.
When Mark told her he wanted her to give him the letter up on stage, she exclaimed, “I'm going to be famous!”
Organic Pastures served delicious grass-fed chili, along with their homemade kombucha, and all the raw milk you could drink.
And there was quite a spread of pretty much everything you can imagine from fruit salad to homemade sourdough bread to cookies. (I brought bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese.)
Kate made fast friends with the neighbor kids two tents down from us.
Here they are reading books together.
They played all day, ran in the pastures, ate dinner together, and danced to the band in the barn at night. Then we made s'mores in front of a campfire and went to sleep in our tent.
The next morning, I got a private tour of Blaine's garden and chicken coop.
Blaine says the goats are just her pets.
What a great weekend we had! The kids had so much fun.
Kate had the time of her life on the hayride, and she loved the band and the dancing. And of course, the s'mores.
If you love raw milk and you're in California in May of 2014, you should make plans to go to Camping with the Cows. We will be there!