Audrey Haig, 5, and Olivia Donohue, 4, have just polished off their ice cream when they run across the lawn at Prigel Family Creamery to see the cows.
Some 150 fawn-colored Jersey cows are standing in a line that rambles from a gate at Long Green Road through a field next to the creamery.
"Hi, cow. Hi cow. Here's some food for you. Here you go," the girls say as they pull up grass and throw it toward one whose head reaches under a fence toward them.
The youngsters have no idea they're talking to the source of the black cherry and the caramel pretzel ice cream they just ate.
The entire process — from cow to milk to cone — takes place on Bellevale Farm run by three generations of Prigels.
John Donohue and Olivia, of Cockeysville, stop by on this recent Friday afternoon for cows, country scenes and ice cream after he picks her up from Chestnut Grove Child Development Center in Jacksonville.
Olivia and Audrey don't know each other, but they stand near each other, slurping ice cream, and become instant friends.
Like Donohue, Chelsea Haig brings Audrey to the Prigel creamery on their way home from nearby St. John's Lutheran School.
"We come here all the time. We love their ice cream," says Haig, of Perry Hall. "We drive by here every morning and look for Daisy, their dog. It's like this is our very own ice cream store."
Sentiments like that make Bobby Prigel, who heads up the family creamery, as content as his pasture-fed, certified organic cows.
And he knows it would please his great-grandfather John Mathias Prigel, who was a sharecropper on the land in 1895. He bought it in 1906 and named it Bellevale Farm.
"We've had loyal fans since the day we opened two years ago," Prigel said. "Our first day, we wanted to do a slow opening, so we just took down our 'Closed' sign. Four hundred people showed up. It was amazing."
The cows are milked in a barn on the other side of Long Green Road, so they leave their two young friends to follow Scott Childs, 26, Prigel's nephew.
"C'mon. C'mon. Move it up. Move it up," he urges as the cows saunter across the road in the mid-afternoon. Several cars stop and wait out the bovine backup.
"We've never really had anybody get mad about having to stop for the cows," Childs says. "Most people pull out their cell phones and take pictures."
It takes Childs an hour to milk the cows using a machine that suctions onto the udders. He and Bobby Prigel's 20-year-old son, Matt, share the twice-a-day milking chores.
The cows stay by the barn until a 4:45 a.m. milking the next day. They then cross back to the creamery side to spend the day grazing in the fields.
The Prigels sell 1,400 gallons of milk to Horizon Organic Milk each week. They also bottle about 170 gallons weekly at the creamery for local sales.
That still leaves plenty of milk for the two-day process that results in frozen concoctions named Bobby's Black Mud, Cappuccino Chip and Dulce de Leche.
A family affair