Chocolate milk from a happy cow.
I discovered this natural body fuel on a recent trip to the piedmont. I had just finished a three-hour paddle on the Saluda River and was driving to Easley for my next outdoor adventure when I came across the Happy Cow Creamery off U.S. 25 in Pelzer.
Lured in by a couple of black and white cows happily grazing in a field, I decided to take a break and check out the famed 100-acre dairy and creamery known for its pure, fresh milk.
Lucky for me, it happened to be the afternoon milking hour. A dozen corralled cows were anxiously waiting to enter the milking parlor. Tammy Trantham, daughter of Happy Cow Creamery owner Tom Trantham, invited me and several other visitors inside for a look-see.
Although the cows are milked by machine, she was happy to show us the old-fashioned hand-milking method, squirting a stream of milk at our feet.
After it's pumped out of the cows, the milk travels 48 feet from the dairy to the creamery where it undergoes a low temperature vat pasteurization process that doesn't disturb the milk's enzymes. No artificial vitamins are added and the milk is not homogenized.
"It's the full-fat cream in milk that contains most of the nutrients the body needs," explained Tom Trantham, who started the dairy 32 years ago. "It's better than any sports drink because it has more digestible protein. Research has shown it replenishes muscle tone."
After discovering that his cows produced five pounds more milk per day grazing on just the top half of the lush alfalfa, oats and rye that were growing in his fields in the spring, he developed his own unique grazing program he calls Twelve Aprils.
He now maintains 29 individual paddocks of forages to feed his 90 milking cows. Each day, he moves the herd to a different paddock where they eat just the top, nutritious half of the plants. By the time they've made their way through the 29th paddock, the first one has regrown and is once again ready for grazing.
Grass-fed cows produce higher levels of Beta-carotene and natural vitamin D, Trantham said. The cream in the milk burns body fat and generates energy.
Well, of course, I had to try it for myself. I bought a half-gallon of chocolate milk from the Happy Cow store located in the creamery building. Cold and delicious, it hit the spot on a warm August day. Not only did it refuel my body, it was the perfect reward for a full morning of exercise.
Along with Happy Cow milk, the store sells locally grown produce, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs and chicken, Amish butter and Wisconsin cheeses.
You also can buy Happy Cow milk and cheese at other farmers' markets in the state, including the All-Local Farmers Market in Columbia.
Click here to learn more about the Happy Cow Creamery or call (864) 243-9699.