Homeland Creamery Offers Tours, Allowing People to Get Up Close with Its Cows
There’s no way to enjoy a waffle cone at Homeland Creamery without making a mess. Even if you order only a single scoop, the cone is barely able to contain it. Rivulets of melted ice cream run down the sides, sticking to your hands. If you have facial hair of any kind, you’ll wind up with a thick, sugary coat on your whiskers.
But it’s a treat that draws many to Julian. On a hot summer day, people will drive in from out of state for one of those cones. And in the process, they might also a learn a thing or two about dairy production.
The creamery runs daily tours, allowing people to get up close with the cows that provide the milk for the ice cream and Homeland’s other products.
Paige Garland wants to give people an appreciation for what goes into producing that jug of milk or carton of cream in the fridge.
“We’re trying to enlighten people, especially the children,” she says. “I see fewer and fewer people getting involved in agriculture. That kind of scares me. I want to be able to eat when I’m old. And I want to see people get excited about carrying it on.”
Paige’s great-grandfather, Roy Bowman, founded what would become Homeland Creamery in the 1930s. Many locals still know the place as the Bowman Dairy, Paige says.
The family still operates the business, and Paige, who works as plant manager, grew up on the farm.
“My responsibility was to feed the calves,” she says. “Before I could carry the crates with the calf bottles in them, I would prepare them with my cousin. And as I got a little bit older, I would prepare the bottles and take them out to the calves. That was my main chore. That was how I got my gas money.”
Today, Homeland’s cows produce about 500 gallons of milk every eight hours. The creamery distributes its products throughout the Triad and as far as Charlotte.
About 500 cattle reside on the 1,000-acre farm, with about 150 to 200 Holstein and Jersey cows producing milk at any given time.
On a Saturday morning, about a dozen people board a tractor-pulled wagon for the tour. They go up the road to a pasture where several cows are lingering about. The tour guide, Ferne Dickey, explains the history of the dairy, how the cows are cared for and the differences between the breeds. The black-and-white Holsteins are bigger and produce more milk, Ferne says. The brown-colored Jerseys, though, have a good deal of cream in their milk.
The cows each eat about 100 pounds of food a day—grass as well as some special feed.
“We take a little corn, a little wheat, a little sorghum, a little soybeans, mix it all up and add one more item,” Ferne says. “Cookie crumbs. They need something sweet in their food, some carbohydrates for energy and for fat.”
Visitors don’t actually go inside the milking facilities, but the dairy does have a big plastic cow on which tour guides demonstrate milking. The kids can also try milking the udders underneath.
Katy Jugan was visiting from South Carolina with her kids and wanted to give them a “real-world experience.”
“A lot of creameries don’t actually [produce] the milk on site,” she says. “We just thought it’d be cool for them to see what it’s like to milk a cow. They liked that. Also, they really love ice cream.”
6506 Bowman Dairy Road, Julian, North Carolina
The tours, which take place from March through November, are offered daily except on Sundays. Those interested must make a reservation either by calling 336.685.0470 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.