Homeland Creamery: A Real Farm Experience
Meeting the cows and touring their home makes the ice cream that much sweeter
Photographs courtesy of Homeland Creamery
Fun and ice cream await families at Homeland Creamery in Julian. Owned and operated by sixth and seventh generation farmers, the Bowman family has been raising dairy cows since the 1930s. Committed to raising happy and healthy cows, the herd at Homeland Creamery can be seen grazing in open pastures.
The milking herd, which totals around 200, consists of Holstein and Jersey cows. Holstein cows are black and white, while the Jersey cows are brown. Yet, no matter their breed, the cows at Homeland Creamery have a relatively short workday. In fact, they only spend thirty-minutes of their day in the milking parlor — fifteen-minutes in the morning and fifteen-minutes in the evening.
Paige Bowman Garland, the creamery’s marketing and tour director, is on a mission to educate people about farms and farming practices. Garland accomplishes these goals by giving tours of Homeland Creamery and encouraging future farmers. “When people take a tour,” says Garland, “they are given a broad education of dairy farming and where milk comes from. It is a farm-based agriculture tour.”
Tours of the farm are offered March through November and require an advance reservation. The minimum number for a tour is ten people; however, if the number in your party is less, the farm will be happy to add you to another group.
Garland begins each tour with a short history of the farm. She then takes visitors on an exciting — and educational — hayride, where visitors get an up close view of the crops, cows and other animals that call the farm home. Garland uses the time on the hayride to talk about what cows eat and when they produce milk. “Both children and adults learn fascinating facts,” she says.
After the hayride, visitors are put to work. Everyone on the tour gets the chance to try their hand at milking a man-made cow named “Miss Betty.” During this activity, guests learn how milk “gets from the cow to the grocery store.”
Several calves are located near “Miss Betty,” and guests are given bottles from which to feed them. Petting the calves, watching their antics and gazing into their big, brown eyes are highlights of the tour. Once the calves are fed, the tour continues in the milking parlor, where the process is thoroughly explained. “Cows are not present in the milking parlor during tours, as they need to relax when being milked,” says Garland.
When the journey around the farm is complete, Garland gives everyone a “reward” for being good farmers. As you might have guessed, the compensation comes in the form of ice cream. “Some say it is the best part of the tour,” she declares.
Even if you do not book a tour of Homeland Creamery, a trip to the Creamery Store — which is located onsite — is well worth the drive. Not only will you enjoy a leisurely drive through the countryside, but you will also get to enjoy a small sampling of the farm.
Picnic tables are conveniently located beside the store and provide a place to eat your ice cream while enjoying the sights and sounds of the farm. Tractors can be seen and heard, as can cows grazing in the fields and along the fence line. Best of all, those cute little calves that are bottle-fed on tours reside just a few steps away from the picnic area. Although non-tour visitors are cannot feed the calves, they can pet them. And, just beside the calves are rabbits Rudy and Beatrice, who will — on occasion — hop out of their den to say hello.
There is nothing better on a summer day than a cold, sweet, creamy scoop of ice cream; nothing except being able to eat it against the backdrop of a local, picture-perfect, farm. As an advance warning, please know that after you partake of Homeland Creamery ice cream, you will want to purchase more. A list of local retailers can be found on their website, or you can return to the farm again and again. The friendly staff members at Homeland Creamery are always happy to serve you.
Homeland Creamery is located at 6506 Bowman Dairy Road in Julian. For information regarding store hours or farm tours, please visit homelandcreamery.com or call 336-685-0470.
Jennifer Bean Bower is an award-winning writer and Tar Heel native. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband Larry and their pet rabbit Isabelle. To learn more about Bower and her writing projects, please visit her website at JenniferBeanBower.com. Connect with her on Twitter @JenniferBBower.