Like a stage magician, Steve Miller kept his lady hidden in the box before his audience while he warmed them up.


"When you hear the word dairy, besides Dairy Queen, what do you think about?" he asked.


"Cows," the crowd of Mission Crest Elementary School students answered, almost as one.


Miller, who works for the Dairy Council of California, was there with two cows, in fact, in the back of a trailer christened the "Mobile Dairy Classroom."


The star of the show was Jasmine, a 5-year old Jersey cow weighing 900 pounds.


"Aww, yeah, that's my kind of girl," Miller said.


Jerseys are brown cows, not the more familiar black and white Holsteins that are the more common dairy cows. A Holstein can produce up to 120 pounds of milk a day, Miller said.


"Can you drink that much milk in a day?" Miller asked the students. "No, you can't. I tried."


But the milk they produce is low on cream, making it bad for ice cream. Jasmine, on the other hand, produces milk better for cream-rich foods.


Jasmine spends much of her time on the road, visiting schools around Southern California. The rest of the time, she lives at the on-campus farm at Mission Viejo High School.


"Believe it or not, Jasmine's head weighs 45 pounds," Miller said. "Is your head going to get that big?"


"No," the kids replied.


"Just wait until high school."


Miller also corrected the mistaken notion that a cow has multiple stomachs. Jasmine, for instance, has one stomach with four separate compartments where food starts to break down before getting another round of chewing.


"She's going to 'regurgitate.' What's that? I'm glad you asked," Miller said. To a chorus of groans, he explained that cows throw their partially digested food back up into their mouths. "And after she chews her cud for about a minute, it gets better: She swallows it again."


And, fittingly for a tour sponsored by the Dairy Council of California, Miller wrapped up with an explanation of milking -- including squirting short bursts of milk at, although falling short, of the students.


"Now, an easy way to remember 'pasteurize' is to take your hand, move it past your eyes, just like that. 'Pasteurize.' Five years of college, that's the best I can do."


The visit finished with a chance for students to pet Jasmine's month-old calf, Polly.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.