Pilot story and photos by Andrea Barkan

FORT DICK - Kalmiopsis first-graders discovered where their milk really comes from this week during hands-on field trips to the Alexandre Family Eco Dairy Farm.

Farm owner Stephanie Alexandre said Kalmiopsis students have toured the dairy for about 10 years.

andquot;So many kids don't come from a farm anymore,andquot; Alexandre said.

andquot;I just think it's so important for kids to see a farm and know where their milk comes from,andquot; she said.

Alexandre said both she and her husband, Blake Alexandre, were raised on dairy farms.

The met at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, in a dairy club.

The couple bought the dairy in 1992.

Stephanie and office manager Meagan Curtis led two classes through the dairy Thursday.

First grade teacher Jeannine Housden said Stephanie is an expert tour guide.

andquot;She's like a teacher,andquot; Housden said. andquot;She knows exactly what to do with the kids.andquot;

Students learned about the maternity barn, where calves are born. They also toured the calf barn and outdoor calf hutches.

They got a bird's eye view of 52 cows being milked behind two-way glass in the upstairs office.

andquot;When the cows come into the milking barn ... often their milk is just dripping,andquot; Stephanie told the children.

andquot;It feels good to be milked.andquot;

Each cow is milked twice a day and gives an average of three to four gallons at each milking, she said.

Milk from Alexandre dairy can be found in Humboldt Creamery products, she said.

Before heading to the grain barn, students sampled chocolate milk.

In the grain barn, Stephanie explained the importance of feeding the cows well-balanced, nutrient-rich food.

Students got their hands dirty when they collected samples of various grains and combined them in plastic bags. Then they fed their mixtures to the cows.

andquot;This is a great tour,andquot; first grade teacher Dan Rotterman said.

Rotterman has taken his class on the annual dairy field trip for nine years.

andquot;They do so much to allow us to come here and they give us lots of goodies,andquot; he said. andquot;This is a winner for us.andquot;