Friday, January 3, 2014

• Community Profiles: DeJongs Dairy

One of the last family run dairies left in SoCal... and we get to have them right here in Wildomar.


Today, DeJongs Dairy had a tour. I didn’t know what to expect for a Friday. I was thinking a dozen people, maybe two dozen. Ha, Ha! It had to be closer to 100, if not more.

UPDATE: I just learned that the number was 245 people!
(Sorry folks, I wasn't trained in the science of crowd sizing) 

We were split up into two groups. One group headed for the pastures, the other to the milking and bottling stations. I was with the group that went to the pastures first.
Holly is demonstrating the proper way to feed the cows. While the cow is demonstrating her reach.

Holly Crocker, one of the DeJong sisters, gave the pasture tour. Here we learned that they have about 120 cows on 40 acres. They are Holsteins, which give better milk production than other cows.

Here are three pens of young calves. They are separated by age. 

This baby calf was helping demonstrate how the young ones are bottle fed... though he was a bit shy here.

Next on the tour was the milking station. 

They can milk 12 cows at a time. Currently, 60 cows get milked twice a day for about 500 gallons a day.  The pictures I took in this room didn't turn out too well...
[so you'll have to use your imagination here]

Herman DeJong shows the cereal grains that the cows are fed during milking.

To the left and the right of Herman DeJong were the feeding stations... kids were having a chance to see how the suction feels by putting their thumbs into them. 

Onto the bottling room. 

Dana DeJong demonstrated how the bottling machine worked. Very interesting… kind of like LaVerne and Shirley  ♪♫Doing it our way♫♪

The bottler they use has been in use since 1958. 

The milk goes straight from the cow’s udders to a holding tank in the bottling room. It arrives at 101º and then is cooled to 39º. Then it gets pasteurized at 185º for 15 seconds, followed by a trip to the homogenizer a few feet away [which insures that the  milk doesn't separate].


To top the tour off we were treated to tastes of their famous chocolate milk and some cookies. They were more than happy to give people seconds. 

Here's a secret... if you'd like some easy to make, world class hot chocolate, just microwave a mug of this... it is head and shoulders better than the Swiss Miss powder junk.
Enjoying a cup of choco-milk.

Afterward, the young kids went over to the petting zoo to check out the animals. That gave me a few moments to chat with Herman DeJong.

One of the many barn-like structures they have on the property.

He was telling me how they started out when he was just a lad, and that they had 1 cow and 7 kids. He told me of all the changes he's seen in Wildomar... all of SWRivCo for that matter. When he graduated from High School in the late '60s, there were only 100 kids in his graduating class... and that included all of Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore and the other small communities in the area. 

I also asked Herman how to properly say his last name. My sweet wife goes with the French sounding pronunciation, which sounds exactly like the famous Grey Poupon product —dijon. I've also heard it said with a hard "D"  then a "J" sound like you'd hear in "John" —Dee-Jong. You'll be glad to know that both are incorrect. It's a Dutch name, and the "J" is like a "Y". It would actually be said closer to De Young... but like many of us with non English surnames... try having "Morabito" as a name the first day of school every year... even in our own family there are three distinct pronunciations. Like Herman said, "It doesn't matter what you call me... as long as you don't call me late for dinner."

I also learned that the average cow stays on the farm for about ten years. They had one that was with them for 15 years and had 13 calves in that time. DeJong's Dairy hasn't had to bring in an outside cow for nearly 35 years (or was it "more than 35 years"?) Either way, that's a long time. It's very apparent how well the DeJong's take care of their animals.

Their dairy is notcertified "organic" dairy (don't get me started on that one...) To be "organic" the cows need to be pasture fed for at least six months of the year. This is SoCal, land of no water, and green pastures large enough to take care of a herd this size would break the bank trying to maintain such a thing.

In the meantime, there are no additives in the milk. I'm not sure that a reasonable person can really ask for more than that... then again, we all know there are tons of unreasonable people lurking about.

Do yourself a favor, and if you are a regular consumer of dairy products, consider supporting a locally run family business... 
Click for DeJong's FaceBook page

This birdhouse is home to owls when they are in town. The dairy also has several cats that make their living by keeping the mouse population down.

In addition to the cows, and other farm animals they have, there are also some wild animals. I was told about a pair of coyotes that live on the edge of the property... 
and they don't disturb the penned animals. 

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  1. I've taken many of my grandchildren to De Jong's Dairy including yours :) I've always loved their chocolate milk.. Nice to be reminded. Love you, Mom xoxo

  2. Excellent write up about a local home grown business. Have been buying milk there since the first week I moved to the valley many moons ago.
    Kenny Mayes

  3. great article! I love going there to purchase the milk and I love looking at the animals :)


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