Soulful Uplifting People with Nic Stoltzfus
Ocheesee Venture Part II: Ocheesee Creamery
Click HERE to read Part I: Ocheesee Pond.
After we got back from paddling at Ocheesee Pond, we changed out of our rain-soaked clothes and prepared subs for lunch.
We had quite the spread: thin-sliced deli meat from Winn Dixie, Amish cheddar cheese from Ohio, homemade pickled banana pepper rings that Joan brought. To drink we had hot coffee, chilled chocolate milk, and watermelon sangria that my mom made from a big melon I picked up in Cottondale the week prior.
For dessert we had homemade ice cream from Ocheesee Creamery. My cousins Mike & Heather moved down from Ohio to start an ice cream business using milk from the creamery. Some of their speciality flavors include Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cream, and Coffee. One of my friends shared that, “I normally only like vanilla, but I tried a bit of each flavor and they were ALL delicious!” I laughed and said that whatever flavor I’m eating at the time is usually my favorite.
Another commented on the taste: “It’s so rich!” I explained that the milk used to make this ice cream comes from Jersey cows, and that Jersey milk has the highest fat content of all the dairy cows and makes for particularly creamy milk and ice cream.
After we finished dessert, we loaded up our vehicles and drove a few miles to Ocheesee Creamery. It’s a special place for me: my grandparents moved there in the 1950s from Delaware to found the dairy, it was where my mom was born, and the farm is still in the family—my mom’s sister, Mary Lou, and her husband Paul run the business.
When we arrived my cousins greeted us. My one cousin had gotten a bunny for her birthday, and she wanted to show it to us. She held him out for me to hold. “His name’s Clover.” He had floppy ears and his down-soft fur was dappled black and white. I told her that he looked like a dalmatian and maybe a better name for him would be Pongo. She scowled at me. “Clover’s a bunny, NOT a dog.” I asked how she knew for sure. “Bunnies don’t bark, silly.”
We walked around the farm, looked at the cream-colored calves sitting under the shade of the pecan trees, watched clucking chickens peck at their feed, and arrived at the dairy barn in time for the afternoon milking.
My aunt Mary Lou shared with them the mechanics of dairy farming: she carefully explained how certain machines work, the process of how the cows get milked, and how they store and ship the milk. As I watched her impart the multi-faceted steps of her job to my friends, I realized that, not only is she a proficient farmer, she’s also a great teacher.
Her son Pierre and his wife Misty lead the cows from the field to the dairy barn. He walked behind them with a white stick, gently tapping them on their rumps, encouraging them to walk forward towards the barn.
After they cleaned the cows off, they began the milking process. We watched for awhile, then said goodbye, and came back home.
We washed our feet off and walked barefoot through the carpeted grass. We sat down on some picnic benches in the garden and chatted. A woodpecker called out overhead, hummingbirds zipped by, and blue jays swooped down to land on the feeders. Butterflies fluttered by and gently touched down on raging purple blossoms.
Buddy, our Australian shepherd, sat next to Karen, happy as she scratched his ears. Snugs the pug joined us outside, too, and wondered around sniffling at the flowers.
Everyone enjoyed the weather—a summer afternoon cooled by morning storms. Our conversation drifted to talk about our home here in Ocheesee.
“It’s so quiet here.”
“You have such lovely flowers!”
“With all this land and nature—what rich lives you have!”
My parents and I were flattered. By coming up here and seeing and taking notice of our world—what we see every day and, honestly, sometimes get bored with—they gave us wonder; their fresh perspective reinvigorated ours with a new appreciation for our home.
The sun began to fade in the sky and the shadows grew long. Leslie and the crew got ready to leave. We hugged them all goodbye and went inside with smiles on our faces grateful for good friends, laughter, and a place to call home.
Photography by Joan Vienot
Video production by Leslie Kolovich