LOCATION: Holly Grove Farm. Ivor, VA
While visiting Becky in Arizona, I noticed she lived next to a dairy farm. Promptly I asked, “Can I milk a cow there?” Laughing and surprised, Becky said she would find out. Indeed we could milk a cow there for a fee, however they were closed on Sundays and that was the only available day I had to do it. I noticed that any time I saw a cow I asked if I could milk it, and this was no different. I was so close though! This just made me even more determined to do it when I got back home.
I arrived back to Virginia Beach and immediately started contacting all the dairy farms in the area. Two of the farms said that due to insurance reasons, I was unable to milk a cow. Another farm said that they no longer hand milk the cows because it damages the cow over time from inconsistent milking. I was left bewildered. How hard was it to milk a cow anyways? Now there are rules and regulations on everything. While driving to work one day and listening to FM99, I had my epiphony; I was going to write Shelley, one of the morning show hosts.
The Rumble in the Morning Show is widely known in the Hampton Roads area for being funny and carrying out wacky ideas. Shelley was known for her odd style and humor and always enjoyed the stories of craziness and an underdog. When I got to work, I wrote her. I explained that I knew she was into weird stuff and this was a pretty weird request, but I wanted to milk a cow. I also told her that due to insurance reasons, I was unable to make this happen, which is why I was coming to her. Within 10 minutes, I had a reply. She said she wanted me to MILK THAT COW and would be in touch within a few days.
Rick Rumble, the show’s host, thought it was a great idea and proceeded to make a whole segment on it and bucket lists in general. He called me up to ask me questions about my list and why I wanted to milk a cow. While on the show, Dave called. He owned the Holly Grove Dairy Farm and wanted to help me out. His farm was known for selling raw (safe) milk and slabs of beef. You could get milk by buying a share of the cow. It all seemed very interesting. After a few funny radio segments over the course of two weeks, my dream of milking a cow would come true.
I arrived at the Holly Grove farm all ready. I even made a shirt for the occasion that said “Got Milk?” I thought it was appropriate. The Rumble in the Morning crew showed up a few minutes after me. It was Rick, Shelley, Eric and Rod from the show. Immediately Rick began audio taping the segment. Dave told me that I would need to strip the utter to retrieve milk from it. To do that, I would need to grab the utter between my index and thumb, push in and pull down all in a rolling movement. Sounds easy enough. But first I had to herd my cow in.
They had a cow all picked out for me. At first, she didn’t want to budge when I pushed her a little. Soon, she realized that she would get fed and practically ran to the stable. I followed after and then noticed I had a herd of hungry cows running after me as well. Yikes! Too bad they couldn’t get that on tape, it was funny.
We got the cow to the stable and the milk maid showed me how to strip the utter. Then, it was my turn. I grabbed the utter like Dave had told me and rolled my fingers down. The milk came rushing out. At first, it was going all over the place, but after a few goes at it, I was able to get the milk into the bucket. The utter was very rubbery and harder than I ever expected it to be. It was like grabbing
a dead finger. Not that I’ve grabbed a dead finger, but just seemed like the most plausible explanation. But, I was doing it, I was milking a cow!
Shelley and Rick had a go at it as well and even interviewed Dave about his farm for publicity. Once done, Dave gave us all a small glass of raw cold milk to try. I don’t like milk, but decided to try it anyways. The raw milk sat heavier than regular milk and had a cream sitting on top. It was ok, much better than regular milk, but still not for me.
The morning show crew said their goodbyes and left to edit the audio and video they took. I stayed behind to give my many thanks to Dave. As I was giving my thanks, Dave began to tear up. He explained that his farm had not been doing great lately and that the two weeks of radio segments really brought in a lot of business and news for him. He had several people call up asking questions about his raw milk shares and some even bought too. He said that if it wasn’t for me, his business wouldn’t have received the help that he really needed and he couldn’t thank me enough. This really warmed my heart. I had no idea that something I wanted to do, could in turn, bring such happiness to someone else. This was truly the moment I realized that I can change the world and inspire. It only starts with one person at a time. Holly Grove is the most humbling and incredible farm.
* Thank you to Shelley and Rick Rumble at FM99 for helping me get this done!
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: Yes, yes and YES!
HOW TO DO THIS: Look up dairy farms in the area. Some may have the insurance requirements to allow it.