Moms on the Farm Tour

cow1It’s not that I’m a city girl, but the farms I grew up around were like distant planets to me. I knew they were there, but didn’t know much else about them. So when Janeal Yancey asked if any of the Arkansas Women Bloggers wanted to attend the Moms on the Farm tour, I jumped at the opportunity.


Before the tour, I imagined we’d visit some small family farms with one or two animals and see a demonstration of how to milk a cow by hand. I didn’t realize we would be touring the large commercial farms that supply the meat and dairy products we buy at the supermarket.

Waking up early in the morning and gathering at the Extension Office made me feel like I was on a Girl Scout trip. After all, why do little kids get to have all the life enriching experiences? We were greeted with a smiling staff and given goodie bags full of treats like measuring spoons, cutting boards, and recipe cards along with an information packet. While we waited for everyone to arrive, we learned some cow terminology.

Words that I thought were synonyms turned out to have distinct separate definitions. For example… Heifer means a young female who has not yet had a calf while Cow means a mature female. A Steer is a castrated male while a Bull is not castrated.

We visited three farms: a dairy farm, a poultry farm, and a beef cattle ranch. My favorite of the day was the dairy farm… probably because those baby calves were so darn photogenic.

Susan Anglin of Anglin Dairy Farms {and blog} was our first guide. She showed us to the milking parlor with the automated milking machines I mentioned earlier.  She explained some of the differences between organic and regular milk. For instance, they both have the same nutrients. I also learned that the reason organic milk has a longer shelf life {I’ve always wondered} is because it’s ultra-pasturized… which means it’s pasteurized at a higher temperature.

milk (1)

Then we saw the feed barn where the cows eat. The hay is on one side of the barrier and the floor beneath the animals is metal to easily gather the manure for fertilizer. This is one reason Susan described cows as “the great recyclers.”

Next, we saw the calves. We learned the first of a mother cow’s milk is always saved in a canister. Susan uses this to bottle feed the calves. The love she has for the animals really showed throughout the tour.


The poultry farm was next. It’s there I learned chickens grow so quickly because of selective breeding and not growth hormones (which are illegal in the United States).

Did I mention we had to wear a disposable blue paper suit like this to even enter the chicken house? It’s probably the strangest thing I’ve ever worn. {And I was a theatre major.} Apparently, it’s very easy to spread diseases in chicken houses so farmers have to take extra precautions with visitors.

We finished the Moms on the Farm tour at a cattle ranch where the conversation revolved around what they were fed and how it impacts the taste of the meat. All cattle begin eating grass and then some move toward eating grain when the good grass season is over.

We returned to the Extension Office where we were treated to a deluxe roast beef sandwich sponsored by the Arkansas Cattle Women while they presented cooking demonstrations for us. Everything they made was delicious.

That evening, I was surprised at how much I managed to remember and was able to chat over with my husband about his family farm. Definitely a fun and educational experience for everyone involved.

If you live in Northwest Arkansas, watch for the next Moms on the Farm tour! There are two a year, in October and April. Sign up to their FB page or contact Janeal Yancey for more information.

The next time you enjoy a cold glass of milk or a juicy steak from the grill, think about the farmers who make it all possible!

P.S. Do you have farm stories? Share them in comments!

sarahArkansas Women Blogger Sarah Shotts is a wedding photographer & filmmaker at Sarah Shott’s Storytelling. She moved to Arkansas last summer after marrying her own true love  and is quickly falling in love with the area. When she’s not telling wedding stories she loves documenting slices of her own life over on her blog. After studying abroad in Mexico and London, she acquired a taste for adventure and is excited to explore her new home state. You can keep find her at Sarah Shott’s Storytelling.