Sunday, June 14, 2009
Breakfast on the Farm
Always looking for cheap and novel things to do with the kids, I was pleased when, milling among the masses at the Dane County Farmers' Market's Cows on the Concourse, someone handed me a flier for Breakfast on the Farm.
I've looked into Breakfast on the Farm before. For a small fee, attendees visit a local farm and poke around and eat breakfast. We haven't gone before because the menus I've seen offered something like 12 kinds of meat washed down with whole milk. Yuck.
But this year, the menu appeared to offer enough that we would eat, although it had nary a fruit or a vegetable on it. (Not true, as I think about it – frozen strawberries came with the ice cream. Frozen strawberries at the height of strawberry season. Tragic.) It was quite dairy heavy, in fact, which could be expected in Wisconsin. Being dairy crazy, we went. Well, we three chicks went; Eric was in San Francisco being a geek at Apple's WWDC.
The farm, Hinchley's in Cambridge, was about a 25-minute drive through the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin. It was a cold, drippy morning, but by the time we got there, the skies had begun to clear.
I envisioned a quiet wander among the barns and a chilly breakfast with a few dozen blue-hairs and a handful of neo-hippies. My quaint (and naive) notions of a locavore experience were shot to hell when I saw the lines of people walking down the highway and county police directing traffic outside the farm. It would be me, my kids, and oh, thousands of other people eating eggs and warming our hands with coffee.
I steered the car over the muddy field that served as the parking lot that morning. Hayrides to the farm were available, and Kelsey wanted a hayride. The trailers came in many sizes, as did the tractors pulling them. Only one was horse-drawn. We had to wait for three to fill and leave before we got our turn, but the wait was less than 10 minutes, which only goes to show what a huge operation this was.
The hay bales were surprisingly soft. Usually hay bales are like bricks with slivers.
So we got our tickets and stood in the food line. We were getting pretty hungry, and the lines were really long. But we were in the line right next to where they cooked the food. They had two enormous pans of scrambled eggs going, and apparently they were boiling sausages in some milk cans. Three egg scramblers stood over the pans of eggs, mixing and turning them with huge spatulas, chatting and smiling as they worked.
A miserable-looking little dog wandered into the food prep area and was promptly shooed away. He looked even more miserable then, the sad bastard. I can just hear him, whimpering about all these people in his territory. It must have been completely overwhelming.
So, we sat at a Holstein-painted table and ate our cheesy scrambled eggs, which were actually very good, our cheese cubes (Farmer's rope and mascarpone), cheese danish coffee cake, and milk. I went with the full-fat chocolate milk from Sassy Cow. God. That stuff is too good. I made the mistake of looking at the calorie content – 230 per cup. Whoa. Usually I drink skim, at 80-90 calories per cup, depending on whose nutrition information you choose to believe.
Alice in Dairyland was passing out stickers to some small children at the next table. You know what I like about Alice in Dairyland? Her thighs. She's a real Wisconsin girl, not some twiggy, model wannabe with more face paint than Bozo.
After we ate, we started to wander. The farm was really very pretty. The barns were all well kept and they had a small area to walk through that had different pens of animals. There were the stinky pigs, goats, three or four kinds of geese, loads of many different kinds of chickens, baby chicks, pheasant, rabbits, and of course, cows. We all held the bunnies and marveled at how weird goats are and how huge goose eggs are and how cute chicks are. Cows are cows. They eat. A lot. And they're not the brightest animals around. But it's fun to get lickin' close to them and watch the younger set feed them out of their hands. Eew – spit.
It made for a pleasant morning, and I'm glad we went. Kelsey loved it so much, she wants to go to another one next weekend. We'll see about that. I'm just wondering how many eggs they cooked that day. Kayleigh figures a whole building full of them. She may be right about that.