Friday, September 25, 2009

farm tour today...

From time to time we give farm tours over here...and today is the day.

So put on your coveralls...we'll supply the plastic booties...and you can join us for a tour of the dairy. 

We'll start with the parlour...where the milking happens twice each and every day.  There are very few visitors at the morning milking...since it begins at 4:30 am.  I is an unearthly hour for both the cows and the milkers! 

This is the holding area...the 'waiting room' so to speak...where the cows hang out before they are allowed in to the parlour.  They are all out eating breakfast at the moment...and so the holding area has been washed down...ready for their return.

Let's go back to the parlour for afternoon milking...which begins at four o'clock.  It is always the same eager bunch that arrives in the first lot!  We milk sixteen cows at one time...eight on each side.

Never camera shy...they are all quite eager to be in the picture.  They can't really leave at the moment anyhow...

...since they are in the process of donating milk.  Corina...our most excellent milker...has a way with these gals!

The milk is pumped via pipeline to this milk tank...we are actually only seeing the very tip of it...since the rest lies on the other side of the wall.  Here it is cooled quickly to 3° degrees Celsius...

...where it is maintained at that temperature until the milk tanker arrives to haul it away every second morning.

I know you would like to hear that during the day the cows are all out on the pasture...romping and frolicking...but it is not so.  They relax in a loafing barn...complete with comfort stalls......and have their ration specially prepared in a mixer wagon...

...and delivered to them along the feed alley. Meals on wheels!

I gave you a sterilized version of the tour that is really happening this morning.  We have two buses arriving shortly...of community leaders who are eager to learn more about farming.  They will be visiting farms of all kinds...and we are the dairy stop on their agenda.  They will not be seeing the cows being it seems they were not prepared to begin their tour in the wee hours.  We'll serve them cookies and milk...of course...and coffee...and send them on their way knowing a little more about what is involved in getting the milk to market these days.
For the record...our dairy farm is an average sized farm in British Columbia.  There are still many small family farms in this area...but they seem to be increasing in size rapidly.  The largest dairy in Canada is just down the road from our place...and they milk about 3000 cows.  One of these days I'll take you on a tour over there...and show you what a mega-farm looks like.  They milk around the clock over there.

As for our is the same farm that I grew up on.  We bought the farm from my parents when they retired...and have been here for some twenty odd years.  Five years ago we built a new home across the back fields from the farmyard...and our son and his family now live in the main farmhouse. 

The aerial photo above is much how the farm looked when we took over in the late eighties.  The dairy barn we toured today was added six years ago.  We milk about 130 cows...and raise all our replacement animals. 

And that, my friends, is where our bread and butter comes from!  Hope you enjoyed the farm tour.

Edited To Add... 

They came...they saw...they went.  And maybe they learned something as well!


  1. I just want to sit and look at these pictures many times. They bring back lots of fun, happy memories of my growing up years. My uncle and aunt lived on a dairy farm and we visited them every week to replenish our milk supply. Also, my parent's best friends lived on a dairy farm and we would often visit there. So you see, looking at your beautiful, lush, and carefully maintained dairy farm...just makes me happy. I appreciate that you took the time to photograph and share in words, this very important operation. If I lived anywhere closeby to you, I would often come for tours. I have not been in a dairy farm for a few years and I miss it. It involves lots of hard work and dedication, and I admire those who do it for their bread and butter. Your countryside with the green fields and mountains looks like a magazine picture.

  2. I loved the tour. That really is an impressive operation you have there. The setting is so gorgeous with those great views. Now where does chocolate milk come from??

  3. Judy. . .I loved this post too. We both did here on our farm. Dairy farming is still a beautiful thing. .. . and I loved the bit of family history that you shared with the post too.
    I hope your tour goes without a hitch. . .

  4. Judy, wow! This was great. I am a city girl, and my husband that grew up on a tobacco farm teases me about my lack of farm savvy all the time.

    Thanks for educating me. I'm going to impress him with my dairy farm knowledge. ;-)

    I know I tell you this all of the time, but it is so beautiful there.

  5. Thanks for the tour Judy, that was wonderful!
    I grew up on a dairy farm but it was nothing like this one.

  6. Hope you have a wonderful day...
    Sure enough, I love the chechered floor in the parlor...It's spic and span and I could see right through those windows.
    I think I want a tour some day...I might need to bring my quad...
    Have a wonderful day and the weather is super..

  7. Hope you're having fun! Thanks for the preview before the farm tourists arrive. I'm sure that when it's over you'll all wish the activity could have been less intense and that you could have had more time with a few who were really eager to learn more. It's interesting to think of the part each of us who grew up on a Fraser Valley dairy farm had in developing the "industry" to what it is today. Today's kids will have memories that don't include running barefoot through the pasture to bring in the cows or of carrying buckets of milk to dump through the strainer. Too bad we don't have photos of that! But I'm sure glad I didn't have to be up to milk at 4:30 in the morning!

  8. It all looks so spotless and efficent! Let me see: the cows are Guernsey? Not spell right of course, but is it close?

    Have you ever considered sculpting butter like the dairy farmers apparently do here in SLC?

    The dairy farm I used to visit in my hometown of San Diego was owned by a Swiss family. They had brown cows...billions of flies...and the cows hung out outside between milking, with lots of calves being born too. It was a huge operation. The dairy farmer and his wife produced eleven sons between them. The clothes line held blue jeans going from huge to itty bitty. They allowed my family to go dove hunting on their property, and we got to be rather good friends.

    Your farm seems quite pristine by comparison.

  9. Thanks for the tour, Judy! I was reminded of a cute photo of my grandma milking a cow (by hand). My mom grew up on a farm, but my dad was an office guy all the way ... so I've only always "toured".

  10. i agree - great tour, thanks! I was born on a hobby farm until i was almost 5, but spent MANY summers/Christmases visiting my aunt & uncle's dairy farm in edmonton. he was a VERY successful farmer who took over the farm from his Dad and grew the operation multiple times over from what it was when he took it over. he just passed away and so now his son (and my aunt and wonderful hired hands) are running the operation.
    looks like you have managed to do some great work there, and I can see why they chose to tour your farm! :)

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  12. Ooops, I'll try this again...

    I love that elegant black and white floor in the parlor! Kind of matches the cows too.

    I'm a bit jealous....all that luscious cream and butter at your fingertips like that! Mmmmm!

  13. Oh Judy, that was a marvelous tour. A few years ago I was in a local program called "Leadership Nelson County." The purpose of the program was to expose persons in visible jobs for companies, to learn all about the area we represented. One day a month we learned about and visited places that kept our lives moving. I know that is hard work maintaining a dairy and I congratulate you on the spotlessness look of your wonderful dairy. My grandfather milked one cow twice a day and I was with him as often as possible.

  14. Thanks Judy! I really enjoyed seeing your dairy business. It was so interesting! I know it's a lot of hard work and much more goes on behind the scenes.
    My sister-in-law was raised on a dairy farm in Ireland and I have visited it many times and have seen over the years how her Dad, and now her brother, progressed from hand milking 38 years ago to be as modern an operation as yours. The only difference is that they still allow the cows to roam in the pastures for most of the day.

    I loved the aerial view of the farm -- such a good perspective!

  15. Thank you for taking me on the tour too.

  16. Too bad the cows don't get to roam in the pasture during the day. :-(
    This might seem like a silly question but, is there a reason why they have to be milked so early?

  17. I did enjoy the tour! It was very interesting to see your farm and your lively hood. What a heritage you have so wonderfully cared for to pass down to the next generation. That is a rare thing these days.

    How precious to practically have your grands in your back yard, and a part of this on going cycle of farm life.

  18. Thanks for sharing -- we live on the prairie and although most of our cows are beef there are a few dairy herds here and there.

    A time consuming occupation -- no time for vacation when you have cows!

  19. That was a most enjoyable tour. Your dairy farm looks like a very clean and well run operation. I have spent a total of one week on a farm in my entire life. My dad had many cousins in Ontario who were farmers. I still remember my stay with one of them as a child. It was very different from the life I had always lived, but different in a good way. I do remember trying to pretend that I liked the taste of the milk fresh from the cow.


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