The best part of my job is the chance to get out of the office and visit a farm.
I thoroughly enjoy the people, the landscape, the aromas.
And with June Dairy Month, I savor an added advantage: Eating ice cream and cheese, and tossing back a cold glass of milk.
Last Saturday, my friend Deb accompanied me to Autumnwood Farm, south of Forest Lake. The weather was beautiful for our short road trip to the farm’s open house. Farm open house workers were ready for the throngs of visitors with greeters and wagons taking people to and from their parked cars along the country road.
Deb and I walked up the long farm drive and decided to start with food samples. The deep-fried Ellsworth Creamery cheese curds were delicious, as were the tasty samples of cheeses and ice creams, and glasses of rich chocolate milk.
We joined the tour of the micro-creamery on the farm, peaked into the tie-stall barn, shopped at the on-farm store (I had to buy a half-gallon of whole chocolate milk!) and then made one final stop in the food tent.
Along the way, we learned a bit about the farm’s history. Franz (Frank) Daninger immigrated to America from Germany in 1882, first living in St. Paul, then Linwood. He bought his farm in 1902 with wife Stephanie. Together, they raised 15 children. Their 11th child, Michel, took over the farm after having married Florence Cushing in 1953 following his service in the Army Air Corps during WW II. Together, they raised 6 children. Their fifth child, Patrick, married Sharlene (who grew up on a dairy farm in Fountain) in 1986, and together, they bought the farm, which had grown to 200 acres. They installed a pipeline milking system with automatic takeoffs and started adding registered Holsteins to the herd. Patrick and Sharlene have four children who also help a lot on the farm.
The Daningers raise their cows on rotational grazing and appropriately advertise with the logo: “Milk from grass to the glass.” At the micro-creamery, they process and bottle skim, 1%, and whole milk; non-homogenized whole milk; chocolate milk, half & half, and eggnog (in season).
As a major chocolate milk consumer, I can personally attest to the richness and decadence of their chocolate milk. They use whole milk and the best tasting chocolate. Need I say more, other than it is served icy-cold? It’s a real treat.
Thanks to the Daningers for opening up their farm to host the open house. Many hands help with the promotion of such events, as well as farm prep and clean-up. Here’s a big thank you to ALL dairy farmers and all those who help make Minnesota’s June Dairy Month open houses such rousing successes.