Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Farmyard to Kitchen, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,428 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,782 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life  

For this week’s Garden Gate/Farmyard to Kitchen Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I brought back Andy, Nora, and Piper to put some finishing touches on what we’d learned during our Beginner Level badge adventuring. (Oh, you thought you EARN badges here? No, no, silly goose, we ADVENTURE them.)

They had gone through the whole gallon of cream-on-top, fresh-from-the-cow milk I had given them in no time. I had assumed one of their mamas would get to experience the bliss that is fresh cream in her morning cuppa joe, but evidently, Nora got to it first and used it on her oatmeal. She however got to experience some bliss so all was not lost.

They had also spent a whole week eating only fresh, organic chicken eggs, and they were mightily impressed.

“Aunty!” They told me (as if I didn’t know), “The yolks are bright orange! Like, practically glow in the dark! And they taste sooooooo good!”

I was pleased as punch and proud as a peacock (hey, do peacocks lay eggs?). Now it was time to mooo-ve along to discussing what types of chickens lay what colors of eggs.

“I want a pink egg!” shouted Piper. “And a purple one with sparkles!”

“Um, yeah, not happening. Focus, little sprite. This here is a Rhode Island Red.” We were in the backyard coop, the better to teach in a visual manner. I read that in a book once. Kids like visual stimuli. And, if I do say so myself, my backyard is even better than a picture book. “And that one over there, looking disgruntled and cranky, is a Gold Laced Frizzle.”

“Are we gonna have to spell these?” Andy wanted to know, looking even more suspicious than my Gold Laced Frizzle.

“No. Which is good, because that one is a Wyandotte. And that one over there is a Plymouth Rock. Isn’t she adorable?”

“Which one lays striped eggs?” Piper again. Good thing she’s cute, because sometimes I wonder about her intelligence.

“Uh, none of them.”

“Ack!” shrieked Nora suddenly. “What is that giant puffball? That walking cotton candy? Oh my gosh, I am in love!”

“Oh, that’s a Silky. Yes, she’s pretty cuddly.”

“I bet she lays Cadbury Eggs, right, Aunty?” Piper whispered to me.


“Okay, kids, let’s head back to the kitchen. I have some new milk I want you to try.”

“Yes!” Nora fist-pumped. “My oatmeal was totally lonely this morning.”

At the kitchen counter, they bellied up to the bar, so to speak. I used my smallest juice glasses to pour shots of a few different types of dairy for the smallfries. In order to keep them guessing (and to keep the “EWWWW”s to a minimum), I kept the containers under wraps. This was to be a blind tasting. I had goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, a bland store-bought skim cow’s milk (shudder, shudder), and of course, fresh, whole, organic, cow’s milk.

“Man, I was hoping for chocolate, but this is good too,” said Andy.

“I like #2,” said Nora. “But not that one that tastes like weird water.” Down the drain went the skim, and good riddance.

“I like them all! Another round!” shouted Piper, banging her glass down. “Barkeep! Keep ‘em coming! And make mine a double!”

We drank our milk and made guesses as to the source all afternoon till… well, I guess you could say until the cows came home.

Leave a comment 4 Comments

  1. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    When I was a child in the 50’s , we got our milk from a local dairy known for its ” golden guernseys”. Those cows made very high fat milk . and yes it was sold in those glass bottles like the one pictured. All that great cream was in the big bubble. I had a glass of milk with every meal, not juice like all the kids today drink. I have great teeth and until old age hit me , great bones too.

  2. Karlyne says:

    Piper’s intelligence might be in doubt, but she made me belly laugh!

  3. Krista says:

    My husband would be really good at picking out which milk is which. He says there is nothing better than fresh milk from a cow. I am definitely not a fan of milk, it makes me sick and I don’t like the taste. Maybe one of these days I will get around to trying some goat milk.

  4. Winnie Nielsen says:

    We had a farmer who came by our house every Friday morning in this beat-up old truck, He had, however, the best fresh veggies and big fresh eggs from his farm that we loved. My Mom was able to get fresh kale, parsnips, tomatoes and other usual fruits and vegetables that were picked fresh the morning he made his rounds. His name was Mr. Haney and he always had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and a gravely voice and cough. My Mom was his main customer on the block and he always tried to bring her favorites first. Our milk came from our local dairy named Monticello Dairy. They delivered twice a week to the little cooler that sat by the back kitchen door. You could get milk, butter and cottage cheese in whatever quantities you needed. All of the milk came from the local dairy farmers who brought it in fresh every day in big milk cans early in the morning. As kids in elementary school, there was always a field trip to the dairy to see and learn how milk was made. The dairy also had a room in the front that sold lots of delicious ice cream. Each Sunday, on the way home from church, my Dad would stop by for a half gallon of ice cream for the family. It was creamy and delicious and there was always a special seasonal flavor like peppermint at Christmas and Strawberry in the Spring.

    On my last visit to Charlottesville when I grew up, Monticello Dairy has been turned into a local micro brewery with delicious beers! I am glad that the building still is in use and bringing locals to enjoy friendship and conversations and local beers. The little food trucks outside provide great snacks for those wishing for a little something to eat.

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