All week long I've been sharing with you the highlights of my road trip to Western Mass. with the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council. After a day jam-packed with fantastic shopping and dining destinations, we made one final stop that wasn't on our itinerary.
At brunch at Esselon Cafe, the owner, Mark Krause, mentioned that if we had time before we headed home, we should stop at the Mill Valley Milk Company because the co-owners, Laurie and Bruce, had just opened a farm store. He was describing what they planned to sell in the store and then he said the two magic words, "ice cream."
Giddy as two little school girls, we drove through the town of Hadley to the dairy farm. We pulled up to the big white barn, which was still decorated with Christmas wreaths.
We opened the door to the farm store and we were so impressed! Laurie and Bruce had just opened it that weekend.
As we stepped inside, we were greeted by Laurie's Australian Shepherd puppy, Sydney. Such a beautiful girl!
Laurie and Bruce found and hand selected every single item in the store. The tables, the chairs, the shelving, the antique signs and suitcases - everything. In the corner pictured below, you'll notice a rooster-shaped weathervane. Bruce happened to pull up next to a guy who had the weathervane in the back of his truck. It was from the 1800s and the guy was planning to chuck it. Thankfully, Bruce was able to take it off his hands and give it a new home inside the farm store. Eventually he plans to mount it on the table in the center of the store.
The rooster theme continues throughout the store.
The walls are covered in bookcases and shelves that showcase locally made products. In this bookcase you can see coffee from Esselon Cafe.
Me and my road trip buddy were both drawn to these pretty (and wonderfully smelling) handmade soaps.
As we were browsing through the store and chatting with Laurie and Bruce, it approached feeding time for the baby cows. Bruce asked if we'd like to help him do the feedings.
I was lucky enough to get the honor of bottle feeding the youngest baby cow. Here I am, Molly the city girl, feeding a baby cow on a dairy farm!
This was the undisputed highlight of the day. I kind of can't believe it really happened.
Here are some of the other cutie pies in the barn:
My friend Emily, who grew up on her uncle's dairy farm in Connecticut, was a total pro.
After feeding the sweet baby cows and walking with Bruce on a tour of the barn and the field, we went back inside to learn about the dairy products they make and sell. The first, of course, is milk.
Laurie and Bruce also made cheese.
And most importantly, ice cream! In fact, you may have seen their ice cream around Boston. It is sold in Whole Foods and also at Allandale Farm in Chesnut Hill.
While talking to Laurie and Bruce, we mentioned that we were absolutely kicking ourselves for not packing a cooler in the trunk of the car. How could we possibly take anything home on a 90 minute drive without a cooler? Laurie and Bruce looked at each other and said, "We have tons of extra coolers from all our deliveries. We'll just send you home with one."
And just like that, Laurie rolled a red cooler onto the floor of the farm store and said, "Girls, take your pick! Fill it up." We were in total shock and each picked out two flavors of ice cream to take home. When Laurie saw we had put just four pints in the giant cooler she said, "Oh no. Don't be shy. You girls need to try everything - the milk, the cheese, more ice cream." And just like that, she started loading us up! In the end, we drove home with two gallons of milk, two packages of farmhouse cheese and eight pints of ice cream!
It's been two weeks since our visit to the farm store and I am still working my way through all the goodies! I wound up with four of the pints: coffee toffee frozen yogurt, chocolate brownie, dark chocolate peperrmint and sea salted caramel. Here are my thoughts so far:
- Coffee toffee frozen yogurt: This was the first flavor I tasted at home. It was so creamy that you would never know it's not full-fat ice cream. There is toffee candy in every single bite!
- Chocolate brownie: When I took my first bite, I was reminded how delicious plain chocolate ice cream can be. I normally order flavors that are loaded with mix-ins, so this was a lovely reminder about the beauty of simplicity. Unfortunately there weren't as many brownie bites mixed in as I hoped. In a bowl with two generous scoops, I think I only had four pieces of brownie.
- Dark chocolate peppermint: This flavor had more of an icy/slushy consistency. It tasted like you were eating a York Peppermint Patty straight from the freezer.
- Sea salted caramel: I am a huge salted caramel fan, so I was really looking forward to trying this one. In a surprisingly yummy way, it tasted like frozen caramel frosting. I've been eating it with chopped up Milky Way minis on top. Judge if you must, but it's freaking delicious.
Our visit to the Mill Valley Milk Company was one of the major highlights of our day in Western Mass. We are so grateful to Mark at Esselon for suggesting we stop by. Laurie and Bruce are two of the sweetest people on the planet. They both have such a sincere passion for what they do. Laurie grew up on a farm in Cheshire, MA and Bruce's family actually owns the farm across the street. They were amazing hosts and I can't wait to keep supporting their business by buying their ice cream and making regular visits to the store in Hadley.
This day will forever be remembered as the day I bottle fed a baby cow!