Swisslane Dairy Farms & Cuisinart Panini Press GIVEAWAY

A few weeks back on a gorgeous Autumn day I had the pleasure of taking a drive 45 minutes south-east of my home to Alto, Michigan!  I’d love to share with you what I discovered!


I love nothing better than a drive through the countryside on a sunny Autumn day!


IMG_0193My destination this day was a 4th generation dairy farm owned and run by the Oesch family.   Several other local bloggers and I had been invited by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) for a tour of  Swisslane Dairy Farm.


IMG_0157As farms continue to disappear from the landscape, it’s important that we take the time to understand where our  food comes from. SwissLane Farms is committed to educating the non-farming public of West Michigan about life on a large, modern, family farm by engaging them in interactive and enjoyable experiences through their Dairy Discovery tours.


Let me share with you what I learned!!


Ribbet collageOur tour guide was Annie the great great granddaughter of the original farmer (Fredrik Oesch).  Did I say SwissLane is a 4th generation dairy farm run by Annie Link and 27 other family members of the Oesch family and that they all live within two miles of the farm?  Despite the fact that Swisslane is considered a large farm or CAFO it feels very small.  Swisslane  milks 1,300 cows with a herd total of 2,700 cattle. The farm continues to grow, as does the family.   The dreams of a young man (Annies great great Grandfather) from Switzerland remain alive and are being passed down through generations. This is not just a farm or a business Swisslane is the Oesch family heritage!

I love it!! This is real America people!!

Q:What is a CAFO?  I had heard the word used many times in a derogatory way, so after touring Swisslane and seeing the excessive attention and love they put in to taking care of their cattle I was shocked to hear Annie say that they were a CAFO.  A: CAFO = Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation is the legal description for a large farm.  Many CAFO started as smaller farms that grew over the years to support additional family members who wanted to stay on the farm, 98 percent of all the dairy farms in Michigan are family owned and operated.


Annie, our tour guide, is the calf manager and event organizer for her family’s farm.  Annies has a contagious enthusiasm for educating others about how technology benefits their farm and agriculture.  She took us on a hayride around the farm and out to their newest barn where they have four robotic milkers.  You really have to see it to believe it!  It may sound strange, and detached but honestly the care these cows are given is unbelievable.  These are pampered moo moo cows for sure.  Rubber mats to walk on, temperature controlled building with misters, back scratcher massagers…sheesh I wanna be a cow at SwissLane.

IMG_0197Our hayride adventure!  Megan are you having fun yet?   We were very thankful that there was a break in the rainy weather.


IMG_0174If you are a Michigander you can rest easy knowing that the milk you drink is of the highest quality.  Our farmers are held to very tough standards!  Michigan is also a surplus state, which means that we produce more milk than we can use so our milk is shipped to other states that cannot produce what they need.  This also means, unless you are purchasing some fancy fru fru milk, the milk you drink is from a local family owned and operated farm!  Music to my ears 😉

What questions would you have for Annie if you were on the dairy farm tour with us?


Ribbet collage1At the end of this beautiful Autumn day our minds were full of all we had learned but our bellies were empty.  Lucky for us when we arrived back to the “teaching” barn there was a beautiful lunch set up for us.  We were given an array of cheeses, cold cuts, and other tasty toppings so that we could each create our very own panini that was then pressed and brought to our table!  If you are looking for more ways to get dairy in your diet, check out the UDIM website for recipes.




I am very thankful to the UDIM for asking me to be a part of this trip and for graciously giving me an extra Gift Package to give to one of my readers!!  That’s YOU!


1 Cuisinart Griddler Panini Press

1 Got Milk cooler bag

1 very shiek and stylish Got Milk Apron

and 1 copy of the Grilled Cheese 50 recipes to make you melt! Cookbook


To win all you need to do is answer the question asked in the body of the post  in the comments.

Additional BONUS ENTRIES will be given for:

1. Liking or following UDIM Facebook page, and Pinterest Board then letting me know with an additional comment below.

-in addition if you share this post on your facebook page or tweet about it leave the URL to it in the comments for another entry.

– also is it possible that you don’t follow Eat2gather on facebook, twitter, or Pinterest yet?  Well get on it!  let me know you did in the comments below for even more chances to win!

Giveaway Ends Tuesday November 12th at Midnight EST, WINNER will be announced with a luscious panini recipe on Wednesday November 13, 2013!!


Best of LUCK to you all!  Sheila

Disclaimer: I also received a gift package and a small amount to cover travel expense.  I was not paid to write this post. I have shared with you what I experienced, as always all opinions are my own.  

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  1. 1
    Lindsay :

    How much milk they make in a month.

  2. 2
    D Schmidt :

    My question would be ‘what is the optimal diet for a dairy cow?’

  3. 3
    D Schmidt :
  4. 4
    D Schmidt :
  5. 5
    Morgan :

    What her favorite dairy product is!

  6. 6

    Is that little white cow in the picture for sale? I think she would enjoy living in my backyard! I would name her Vivienne Efegenia Amethyst Loulabelle. VEAL for short.
    How do 27 family members run one family business successfully?
    How old was she when she learned to drive?
    Does she use Bag Balm on her cuticles and calluses like I do? If not, could I send her some?
    thank you for the chance to win, Sheila!
    Melissa M recently posted..While I’m Here, Doctor….My Profile

  7. 7
    Gabby :

    I would ask, “Can I pet the cows?”

  8. 8
    Janey :

    Does the family have a rotation schedule for getting up early to tend to the milking of the herd? What do they do with sick cows or calves (how do they feed them – machine or with hand held bottles)? How are decisions made with 27 family members (I think it’s wonderful they are so successful and remain a family)? Thanks for the opportunity to win a Panini press and Got milk apron!

  9. 9
    MaryB :

    I would ask about how attached they become to the cows and what happens with a sick cow or calf. What a business to have family run with 27 members! I’m impressed. I would also ask about how decisions are made when not all agree.

  10. 10
    MaryB :

    I follow UDIM on Facebook and Pinterest.

  11. 11
    MaryB :

    I follow Eat2Gather on Facebook and Pinterest.

  12. 12

    When the milk is shipped to other states it leaves Swisslane meeting the high standards of the dairy farm and the state of Michigan. Do those states retain the integrity
    and high quality set by the farm and Michigan?

  13. 13
    David :

    I have a ton of questions I would ask. How many gallons does the average dairy cow produce in a year? What kind of schedules are the cows on(one week on/one week off, etc.)? Are dairy cows on a specialized diet optimal for milk production?

    It seems like it would be an interesting life to grow up on a dairy farm. A lot of hard work, but with that comes a great work ethic.

  14. 14
    David :

    I like UDIM on Facebook and Pinterest.

  15. 15
    David :
  16. 16
    David :

    I like you on facebook as David Lintz and on twitter and pinterest as 1froglegs

  17. 17
    libby :

    do the cows produce milk 365 days a year, or do they have a down time?

  18. 18
    libby :

    I follow on Pinterest and Facebook

  19. 19

    I follow on Facebook thanks for the 2nd chance to win
    Melissa M recently posted..While I’m Here, Doctor….My Profile

  20. 20
    Yvette N. :

    I would ask Annie about all the new government restrictions applying to dairies, regarding the types of feed and methods they use for operating their dairy, and if they ever feel the government expectations are too much to handle? The fact that there are so many family members actively involved in running the farm shows they have a true farmer’s spirit.
    Our cousins had a small dairy farm in Washington state, but just couldn’t keep up with all the costs and improvements involved, and at the time, the price of milk was way down, too.

  21. 21
    Jessie C. :

    Does the farm tour open to public?

  22. 22
    Jessie C. :

    follow Eat2gather on facebook

  23. 23
    Jessie C. :


  24. 24
    Jessie C. :


  25. 25
    Yvette N. :

    I follow eat2gather on Facebook, too.

  26. 26
    Kari :

    A CAFO is a concentrated animal feeding operation. It looked like a fun tour!

  27. 27

    Are any of your farm products available in South Carolina and if not, will they be?

    • 27.1
      Sheila :

      Unfortunately not. Much of the milk from Swisslane goes to different producer for yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products. Thanks for asking!

  28. 28
    Shelly :

    I would ask how much milk is produced daily on their farm.

  29. 29
    Shelly :

    I like you on Facebook.

  30. 30
    Blessie Nelson :

    I would ask if they feed cows with antibiotics? I am concerned about the healthy effects it causes in humans.

    • 30.1
      Sheila :

      They are not allowed to use antibiotics on the cows. If they do use them it’s because of illness, they have to remove the cow from the herd and put them in the “cow hospital” when they are batter and their milk has been tested and shows that its free of any of the medication then they can go back into the herd to be milked. Every drop of milk that leaves the farm is tested before, if it doesn’t meet strict standards it has to be dumped, and that is a huge loss, so they are very careful.

      • Blessie Nelson :

        That’s very reassuring to know, Sheila! It gives us consumers more confidence to buy their milk!

  31. 31
    Blessie Nelson :

    I follow UDIM Facebook page as Blessie Nelson and their pinterest page as Blesseliz.

  32. 32
    Blessie Nelson :
  33. 33
    Blessie Nelson :

    I like you on fb – blessie nelson

  34. 34
    Blessie Nelson :

    I follow you on pinterest as blesseliz

  35. 35
    Blessie Nelson :

    I follow you on twitter as @Bless_Eliz

  36. 36
    Eq4bits :

    Do you use Udder Balm on the cows udders?

  37. 37
    Eq4bits :

    I just ‘liked’ the MDNB facebook page

  38. 38
    Eq4bits :

    Also started following UDIM on Pinterest.

  39. 39
    Maria B :

    How long do milk cows generally live? How many of those years do they produce milk?

  40. 40
    Deborah :

    Do they sell milk directly to the public? Any other products sold besides milk? –like cheese.

    • 40.1
      Sheila :

      They do not sell milk directly to the public. But swissfarm does have cheese for sale, it’s from another farmer friend of theirs though not them. Cheese making is something they hope to get into in the future. They do have a cute little store right on the farm with Michigan products.

  41. 41
    Kim B. :

    How quickly is the milk on the shelf in the store after being milked from your cows?
    Kim B. recently posted..2013….One Year LaterMy Profile

  42. 42
    Kim B. :

    I follow you on Facebook 🙂
    Kim B. recently posted..2013….One Year LaterMy Profile

  43. 43
    Kim B. :

    I follow you on twitter 🙂
    Kim B. recently posted..2013….One Year LaterMy Profile

  44. 44
    Kim B. :

    I follow UDIM on pinterest 🙂
    Kim B. recently posted..2013….One Year LaterMy Profile

  45. 45
    Kim B. :

    I’m following you on Pinterest 🙂

  46. 46
    Erika Betts :

    I am curious about how much milk 1 caw can produce in a day. I am also wondering if all those caws have names?
    Thanks for the chance to win Sheila!

  47. 47
    Erika Betts :

    I just tweeted. 🙂

  48. 48
    Tanya P. :

    How many pounds of milk are needed to make 1 pound of cheese?

  49. 49
    Tanya P. :

    Liked on Facebook and followed on pinterest!

  50. 50
    Beverly Metcalf :

    It’s such a beautiful and well run farm. I would ask if they would adopt me, so I could live there. lol. Thanks for having this contest.

  51. 51
    Tammy H :

    My question would be: Do you drink your milk raw? I wish that I was able to get raw milk locally and legally!

  52. 52
    Leslie Metta :

    I would like to know their views on raw milk vs pasteurized. And this may sound weird..but how can they tell if a cow is happy? Do they have expressions to tell you they aren’t well that day?

  53. 53
    Leslie Metta :

    I follow UDIM on FB and Pinterest. Do you need our FB name?

  54. 54
    Leslie Metta :
  55. 55
    Sarah :

    On average, how much milk does a cow produce on a good day?

  56. 56

    I Would love to know how long a cow is normally with them
    Jessica W recently posted..Pfsense on a 1u d525 server teaserMy Profile

  57. 57
  58. 58
    Karen J of PA :

    I would like to know if it’s true that milk has a off taste if the cows have been eating the wild onions that sometimes grow in the fields.

  59. 59
    Sarah D :

    I would like to know all their old family recipes using that wonderful fresh milk.

  60. 60
    Jason Stursma :

    I would ask how many acres are on their dairy farm?
    I liked the UDIM Facebook page
    Following you on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest
    Tweeted it:

  61. 61
    Janet :

    At what age do they start/end milking the cows? Love the white calf! So cute!!

  62. 62
    Judith M. :

    How long from the time the cows are milked does milk really stay freshy?

  63. 63
    Mari Schmaltz :

    What kind of music do the cows like? I know they play music to them because I could hear it when we camped out that way.

  64. 64

    Great questions. I visited a local family owned dairy farm a few months ago and the tour was similar but not as “up market” as this one. The love and care these farmers have for their animals is awe inspiring, especially when they have to get up at 4:30am for them every single day of the year.
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted..Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show 2013My Profile

  65. 65
    tiffany :

    What do you think about raw milk?

    • 65.1
      Sheila :

      I really don’t have any opinions either way. I know growing up, my cousins lived on a farm and we drank the milk straight from the cow. I think it all depends on what your used to and what immunities your body has built up. You cannot purchase raw milk in Michigan anymore…at least that’s what I heard. Annie said that they drink their milk, but they cannot sell it or she wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that is not used to it.

  66. 66
    Robin :

    I would ask her young do they take their kids out to the barns, and what do they let them do. I remember playing on a dairy farm with a friend whose parent’s owned it when I was younger. Steve, my friend, squirted me with milk from the cow and I remember how warm it was, lol!

    • 66.1
      Sheila :

      From the sounds of it their kids are very much involved in the work on the farm…there is no rest for a farmers kid!

  67. 67
    Robin :

    I follow you on FB.

  68. 68
    Karen :

    “The farm continues to grow,” Is this farm growing by purchasing more land in the area to support a larger herd or are they looking for ways to diversify, such as in the possibility of cheese-making?

  69. 69
    Krista F. :

    I would ask how they get such good chocolate milk, so much better then Hershey’s syrup and milk.

  70. 70
    Jennifer L. :

    How much milk do their cows produce annually.

  71. 71
    Morgan :

    I liked the fb page!

  72. 72
    Morgan :

    I follow on pinterest

  73. 73
    Morgan :

    I like eat2gather on fb!

  74. 74
    Morgan :

    I follow eat2gather on twitter!

  75. 75
    Morgan :

    I follow eat2gather on pinterest!

  76. 76
    Morgan :
  77. 77
    Kim Porter :

    I’d ask her what she felt was most gratifying about her days on the farm. I am so tired of mass produced, GMO foods and the abuse of the animals that produce so much of our food supply. I’d love to spend a day on that farm. Thanks so much for sharing! It warmed my heart.

    • 77.1
      Sheila :

      I’m with you. I have learned a lot over the past couple years of food blogging and one thing that sticks with me is bad news makes good news, people make tons of money off making other people look bad, don’t believe every documentary, or book you read. I’m sure there is some truth out there, but the majority of what I’ve seen is hard working people trying to put out quality product. The Oesch Family truly cares about their animals, the environment, and the future of agriculture.

  78. 78
    Kim Porter :

    I like and follow the UDIM Facebook page and Pinterest Board.

  79. 79
    Kim Porter :
  80. 80
    Kim Porter :

    I follow Eat 2 Gather on Twitter, FB and Pinterest!

  81. 81
    Sylvia :

    Sounds like a fun and interesting day! Does any of their milk get shipped to California?

    • 81.1
      Sheila :

      It might make it there in the form of cheese or yoghurt, but I am not sure what brands. Thanks for stopping by!

  82. 82
    Lacey Burd :

    I would ask if they ever did tours for children?

  83. 83
    Lacey Burd :

    I’ve liked UDIM on FB (Lacey Jenkins Burd) and followed on Pinterest (Lacey522)

  84. 84
    Lacey Burd :

    I like Eat 2Gather on FB (Lacey Jenkins Burd)

  85. 85
    Denise :

    How much milk does the average dairy cow produce in a lifetime? Are the cows given breaks from milk production, or is it everyday for life?

  86. 86
    Cathie :

    I would ask her what they feed the cows, and whether or not they are given hormones and/or antibiotics. These things are very important to me.

  87. 87
    Cathie :

    I would ask her what they feed the cows, and whether or not they are given hormones and/or antibiotics. These things are very important to me.

  88. 88
    Cathie :

    I “liked” and “followed” Cathie Bullock-Reynolds.

  89. 89
    Meryl :

    I’d ask how the cows are fed, and if they’re hormone-free.

    • 89.1
      Sheila :

      They are each fed according to their size and how much milk they produce. And yes they are hormone free, farmers cannot use any form of hormone on dairy cows in Michigan 🙂

  90. 90
    Lou :

    I’d ask if their milk is free of rBGH.

  91. 91

    Does everyone in her family drink the milk and has anyone in the family experienced allergies to any dairy product?

  92. 92
    Shelley :

    I am interested in what they feed the cows? Grain? Is it GMO free? Do they graze on grass? If so, is the the grass pesticide free?