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“HOLY COW!” Those were the exact words spoken as I walked onto the property of Carterly Farms in Thorntown, Indiana.  As a Ball State dietetic intern, I was given the amazing opportunity of working with the American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) throughout the months of May and June.  Coming into the position, I was very unsure of what to expect from the world of dairy.  To my surprise, visiting Carterly Farms and participating in a farm tour was one of the most memorable, exciting and eye-opening experiences of my dietetic internship, thus far.

When arriving at the farm, I was welcomed by the smiling Kelly MacKinnon and the plastic boot covers she suggested wearing to keep my shoes clean- let me tell you, those shoes were thanking her by the end of the visit.  With my boot covers on, I swished my way around the 120-cow farm in awe.  Kelly started by showing me the large rows of cattle feed that were fermented with corn or hay silage and tightly secured into large white covers.  The smell of the feed was very interesting, but not fowl by any means.  Continuing on the tour, I was led between gates to the back of the milking barn and parlor.  Here, I was able to get up close and personal with the beautiful dairy cows before they made their way into the parlor for a milking session.  It was amazing how close I was able to get to the cows by maintaining gentle and cautious movements; they were very interested in me as their visitor.

One of my very favorite parts of visiting Carterly Farms was having the chance to see the baby calves.  I am a sucker for all baby creatures, so my love for these gorgeous animals only grew at that moment.  Kelly led me into the “Moo Moo Daycare,” as I like to call it, to fall in love with the calves.  They were very nervous, but did not hesitate to suck on my fingers and clothes with their long, sandpaper-like tongues.  I am not sure if I snapped enough pictures of these cute babies, but I did manage to save one of them as the wallpaper image on my phone. J

To conclude the tour, I was led into the barn with the milking parlor to see what all of the dairy buzz was actually about.  This experience was amazing, to say the least. The first room I walked into housed the large, milk tank where all of the cows’ milk is pumped for refrigeration and holding.  Next, I made my way into the actual milking parlor to watch and experience the milking process occur in real life.  I GOT TO MILK A COW! Actually, I got to milk many cows and had the opportunity to learn all of the precautionary steps that dairy farmers take to ensure that their cows and the milk they provide are safe.  First, I hand milked each teat of the cow to check color and quality of the milk. Then, I applied a prewash iodine solution to all teats and wiped them clean and dry.  To retrieve milk, I attached the suction milking machine to draw milk from the utters and through the teats.  Finally, to keep the cow clean and infection-free, I applied a post dip.  Never in a million years did I expect to have the experience of touring a dairy farm and milking a dairy cow, but with the help of Carterly Farms and the ADAI, I have been given the chance of a lifetime that I will never forget.

–Written by: Ball State Dietetic Intern, Taylor