Saturday, June 24, 2017

Young Living Essentials Lavender Farm

I have read about the YLE Lavender Farm on a blog post from another mom looking for fun and interesting things to do with kids in Utah. The farm is located in Mona Utah. It took us approximately an hour to get to it, so we popped in the audio book "Lemony Snicket: The very bad beginning" and listen to it above Andew's screaming tantrums for the whole ride there. I was really hoping Andrew would nap on the ride but alas, it was not meant to be!

Once we arrived at the visitor center and got him out of his car seat he was happy once again and we were able to enjoy the rest of our visit tantrum free.

The farm is made up of hundreds of acres of lavender plants. They also grow several other crops. We timed our visit by watching how the lavender plant I have at home is doing. My plant is in full bloom, but the ones growing on the farm are a few weeks behind due to a wet, cold winter and spring.

The grounds by the visitor center and adjoining attractions were filled with beautiful flowers all in full bloom.  Most of them are grown in a greenhouse prior to planting so they are not as affected by the weather.

Our first stop was a tour of the distillery. After a crop has been cut it is left on top of a cement slab to dry out. Workers comb through it pulling out weeds and turning it over several times. It is then loaded into a big cooker that measures 6 feet in diameter by 10 feet deep. It is compacted down to maximize its capacity before it is sealed. Steam shoots from the bottom of the cooker and releases the oils in the plants. The oils and steam go through a condensation process and are gathered in large glass containers. The oils and water naturally separate, with the oils rising to the top and the cloudy water resting at the bottom. It looks very similar to a lava lamp. Bubbles of oil will appear at the bottom of the container and quickly rise to the top.

Once the process is complete the mixture is taken to another area where the oil is filtered and funneled into a large barrel.

All along the process, the oil is tested for quality.

Prior to harvesting, lab technicians test the plants to verify the PH and sugar levels are at their best.

Once the plants get close to maturity, the staff will cut the water by half to force the plant to release the nutrients stored in their iroots.

Employees check on the plant hourly prior to harvest and before processing.

It is a pretty labor intensive process. I can see why they charge so much for a little bottle of oil.

One of the interesting things we learned is that oils freeze at much lower temperatures than water. The guide showed us a freezer with stored samples of oils and one with a water/oil mixture. The water was the only thing frozen in the freezer.

I had to look up why that was. It seems that oils are made out of lipid molecules which are all different shapes and sizes so it takes lower temperatures (more effort)  for them to crystallize in an uniform way, compared to water molecules which are more evenly sized.

The color of the oils are also different than that of the plants. For example, yarrow with white flowers releases a dark blue oil. I wonder why?

In addition to growing plants, the farm also has many types of horses. We made friends with a few foals or 'dogs' as Andrew calls them. We spend a lot of time petting them in their pens.

The farm also had some bison and camel.
Question: "What do you call a camel with three humps?"
Answer: "Pregnant."

Also on the farm is a castle with a jousting arena. The kids climbed the towers and across the top area. I have to say that safety is not a big consideration. There were so many obvious dangers. For example, the walls in the upper section of the castle were low enough a toddler Andrew's size could fall over.

The is a pond with beautiful sparkling pink paddle boats for rent but no gate to keep kids away from the water. I can just envision a child falling from the dock while trying to reach the boat.

The animal enclosures are not kid proof. They are great for giant horses that stand over 6 feet tall but Andrew is short enough he could have just walked straight into one of them. Needless to say, I was in hyper-vigilant mode.

Our last stop was the old town/playground area. There is a main street with several old shops and offices to visit. Some were open, some could only be observed through their glass windows. The saloon with its bar and old piano was fun. Emilia tried to play a tune, but the piano was so off key, it was hopeless. The jail and assay offices were open as well and the kids enjoyed going behind bars.

The ride back was just as exciting as the one there. Andrew fell asleep for the first 25 minutes and screamed at the top of his lungs for the last 30 minutes of our ride.  I can't wait for our family road trip next month! We will either all be deaf or he will have lost his voice by the end of 15 hours in the car.