Go behind-the-scenes of the milking process during Farmer’s Cow Tours

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LEBANON - You see the milk on the grocery store shelf.

Now, see where it comes from and how it's made during a Farmer's Cow Tour.

The Farmer's Cow is a collaboration of six area farms that was established twelve years ago.  "Our milk is sold in every major supermarket in the state of Connecticut. We’re up into the Boston area now," says Robin Chesmer, owner of Graywall Farms in Lebanon, which takes part in the cooperative venture.

A recent tour of Graywall Farms begins with a wagon ride through the lush corn fields.  "It's really important to have good crops for your cows to eat good meals and make good milk," says Tour Guide and Calf Manager Dave Hevner.

Next, the tractor swings through the barn - home to mostly Holstein cows who work hard and live in comfort, thanks to cool sprinklers.  Then, visitors see the milking parlor where 600 cows are milked in an astounding four hours.

"We have what’s called a rapid entrance, rapid exit parlor - we get a lot of cows in and a lot of cows in out a short period of time," explains Hevner.  28,000 pounds of milk are produced in this high-tech dairy every day.  Final stop - the tank room.  "We have two 4,000 gallon tanks that get picked up twice a day," says Hevner, noting the milk is then pasteurized, homogenized, bottled and labeled off-site.

In addition to eggs, lemonade, ice cream and, of course, standard milk, The Farmer’s Cow produces limited edition flavored milks. Right now, folks can try blueberry milk. Coming up in August, find a unique invention in stores: root beer milk!  "Root beer is going to be interesting," laughs Chesmer.  "I think it will be like a root beer float - we’ll see!"

Tours allow children to learn and see where food comes from.  "The kids love to see animals and it’s so great for them to see how local products are made so we can keep supporting local farmers," says Victoria Fielding of East Hampton who brought her three kids on the tour.  The experience ends with a treat for all visitors:  fresh ice cream!  "When you purchase The Farmer's Cow milk, you are supporting local agriculture, you’re supporting the farmland in the state which gives a lot to everybody," says Chesmer.

The Farmer's Cow tours are free.  The next tour takes place August 5th at Cushman Farms North Franklin.  Click here for a full guide of upcoming farm tours, through the fall.