Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

by Ann Marie Michaels on June 15, 2013

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Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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).

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Raw milk lovers came from all over California.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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!

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Isn’t she cute?

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Aaron McAfee took us on a hayride tour.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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).

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

After the hayride, there was a milk chugging contest and the kids got to paint the haywagon.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Then we got ready for the potluck dinner.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Mark gave a speech.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

He said, “This is why we do what we do, for the children.”

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

My friend Heather’s precious little girl gave Mark a letter she wrote to him, thanking him for the raw milk.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

When Mark told her he wanted her to give him the letter up on stage, she exclaimed, “I’m going to be famous!”

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Organic Pastures served delicious grass-fed chili, along with their homemade kombucha, and all the raw milk you could drink.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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.)

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Kate made fast friends with the neighbor kids two tents down from us.

Here they are reading books together.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

The next morning, I got a private tour of Blaine’s garden and chicken coop.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Blaine says the goats are just her pets.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

What a great weekend we had! The kids had so much fun.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

Kate had the time of her life on the hayride, and she loved the band and the dancing. And of course, the s’mores.

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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!

Camping with the Cows at Organic Pastures Dairy

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Morrow June 15, 2013 at 3:40 PM

You all better be careful as the FDA and other Agencies will send in their Gestapo Swat Team with Gun Drawn to Terrorize you for getting out of line and cutting in on the profits of the Toxic laden food producers.

Reply

Marie June 15, 2013 at 4:11 PM

That sounds like a neat place, though I’m wondering what happens to all that lovely running water that they have? Do they use it to water/fertilize pastures? Or does it go into a lagoon? Probably the pasture, but I’m curious, sounds like a horrible waste of water.

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Ann Marie Michaels June 16, 2013 at 7:52 AM

I’m sure they are not wasting water. They are a business, so I’m sure they do everything they can to conserve so they don’t lose money.

Reply

Sarah Kay Hiffman June 16, 2013 at 6:57 PM

I went on a tour there as well…LOVED! All water is re used!

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Beth June 15, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Well, that just looks like a ridiculous amount of FUN! Thanks for taking all those pictures to share with us so we can enjoy the event vicariously.

Seems like a fantastic summer ritual–a pasture pilgrimage.

P.S. I think there may be a small typo in the quote by Mark (swap a why for a what).

Reply

Ann Marie Michaels June 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Thanks!

Reply

Cynthia Hill June 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM

What a nice story! Unfortunately the ads kept overriding the pics :-(

Reply

Jeanmarie June 15, 2013 at 9:11 PM

I had originally signed up for this but had to back out, we’re too busy getting our nursery business up and running. But I’m hoping to be there next year! Thanks for sharing this.

Reply

Betsy Ammermann June 17, 2013 at 5:33 AM

Too bad we can’t have farms like that in Minnesota. We’re the state where nothing is allowed, unless your Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta, Jennie-o, Hormel, Land-O-Lakes IBP, Armour,…

We have an organic dairy just north of town, but they cannot sell their milk. It all gets sent to Wisconsin for processing, about 150 miles away! What a waste…

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Leah June 17, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Ah I so want to go to this one year! It keeps sneaking up on me. Next May we’ll have a 6 month old baby…this might be our perfect maiden campin trip to take after baby is born. We have a travel trailer and judging by the pics, it seems they allow those? I am assuming no hookups obviously which shouldn’t be a problem. Thanks for sharing. This really motivates me to want to go! How fun!

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sem February 16, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Yup, you know this guy, yes he has a beard, and that beard can kick your ass.
Here’s the bottom line – digital marketing is the way to go.
Try sending out some promotional freebies in your customers’ packages.

Reply

teresa March 24, 2014 at 1:34 AM

What type of cows do they have?

Reply

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