Day 2 we headed over to Aggasiz (with a silent “z”.) Aggasiz is a beautiful farming community surrounded by lush green mountains and waterfalls gushing out around every turn. Our gracious hosts, some friends of The Pastor, welcomed us into their beautiful home, fed us well and told us all about their area. But before we arrived at their house we decided, since we were going to pull into Aggasiz early in the afternoon, that we should take the children to visit a working dairy farm if possible. We Googled for one at breakfast (God bless the iPhone) and called Farmer John of Valedoorn Farms Inc. (mentioned here) to see if we could see his farm. He was very accomodating and happy to show us around. He personally took time out of his work day to give us a lengthy tour.
We arrived at 3PM and were greeted by some very sweet furry members of the family farm who immediately made friends…
especially with my youngest who had just sustained a nasty boo-boo at the hands of those pebbles you see on the ground. He needed a cheerful slobbery welcome from a lovable overgrown pup.
Just look at this big baby… He probably wasn’t any more than 5 months old I’m guessing…
I predict a very large Mastiff will greet you by the time you make your way up to tour this lovely farm in Aggasiz, BC.
The day was hot and muggy which accentuated that nostalgic farm smell. The kids were starting to think their parents were nutso for taking them to a farm for a tour. But very soon they realized that we indeed were the cool parents we had always purported ourselves to be. For when we got out of the car and wandered into the first barn, waiting for Farmer John to show up, we met this little fellow.
Mama was still working on the afterbirth when we arrived so I think if we had gotten out of the car just a bit earlier we may have actually been able to watch the birth. As it was, this was a much less traumatic scene by which to be welcomed to the dairy.
Mama was still catching her breath but decided this creature that just emerged from her might be worth a sniff.
I could almost hear the little guy bawling, “Mama!”
((Sniff sniff sniff)) I wonder if a mama cow gets that same feeling of wonder at the smell of her fresh baby’s head as human mamas do? Oh that intoxicating smell of baby head… ‘nother subject for another time though isn’t that?
I did get the feeling that mama cows have the same feelings about being photographed just after giving birth…
“Step off woman or I will eat you and that camera. I don’t have my make up on, I have placenta hanging out all over the place and I’m in a rather foul mood.”
Meanwhile, these two actors entertained us with their antics.
We even managed to catch this wiley bandit in the act of grand flip-flop larsony.
I hope they found it eventually. If the owner of the flip flop is still looking for it, the criminal was headed towards the house with it when we last saw him.
Just after the flip flop incident, Farmer John rounded the corner on his quad and led us on a fantastic tour. It was very informative both with regards to milk production and food economics. We peppered him with questions about regulations and all sorts of other things that come of reading Atlas Shrugged while on vacation.
In an effort to better communicate with the bovines, my 9 year old decided to try to talk to them in their own language… you know, to increase that bovine brotherhood that we all have shared with the cows ever since man first started drinking from the same… er… uh… “well” so to speak.
The bovines didn’t seem too umm… Moo-ved by his thoughtful gesture.
Cows are such deadpan creatures, I tell ya. Tough crowd.
The cows are all separated by ages and life stages, etc. This young one I found to be terribly cute. I would have liked to wrap her up and take her home but we didn’t have room in the car, what with all the luggage and such.
They all mill about their pens and come and stick their heads out to eat and say hello to the visitors. This one was staring into my soul (you didn’t know cows could do that?) and using mental telepathy to say to me, “Do you ever just feel like a number? I don’t know why, but I always feel that way.”
No, #1419, I never feel that way. Except when I’m waiting at the emergency room with my kids. Or worse yet, at the lab for bloodwork. Now there is something that makes you feel like cattle. Only, no hay or Alfalfa to munch on to pass the time.
I tell you… DEAD. PAN. Look at that #1209 down there. She looks like she has better things to do. She reminds me of some disaffected politician that has to come down only once in a blue moon to mingle with the commoners so that the simpletons can try and understand the complexities of the food supply. I’m sure she has an important meeting to attend somewhere where she will dine on sushi and oysters on the half shell and fine wines at taxpayer expense. Never mind the collar and the ear tag. She only wears those when she is mingling with the commoners. Her other necklaces and earrings are diamonds. All diamonds.
Above her swirls several of her biggest fans.
Next, we witnessed milking time. Let me tell you something. This sight brought back some painful memories from my own lactation days.
No wonder they are eager and willing to line up for milking.
Ahhhh. Sweet relief!
These cows do have dirty feet but prior to attaching the super-sized pumps each teat is individually sterilized and wiped down. We watched the whole process from start to finish. It’s all digitized and sensitized and sanitized and niftyized. The pumps sense when the milk is coming slower and they automatically unlatch. Eventually they all drop and drain and self-clean, creating a milk river.
Here Farmer John is pouring 45 gallons of fresh milk into a barrel to be taken and fed to the baby cows in the nursery.
Next, we headed down to visit the nursery.
My kids and the baby bovines interacted well and exchanged notes on personal hygiene methods.
I’m sad to say there are some striking similarities.
They could have taught this lady a thing or two. Two words: KLEE- NEX people! Sheesh.
I guess the bovine bonding concept worked out after all.
They look like they are really hearing each other. Like, you know… a town hall or something.
I don’t think that this much love happens at town halls though.
The nursery was my favorite part. I’m such a girl. I love baby animals. Each baby cow is in their own little incubator so that they are less likely to spread infections, as young cows are more prone to get sick than older cows. Keeping them separated helps to keep them all fit as a fiddle and free of disease.
Golly they were cute.
They really like to suck on your fingers.
((sniff sniff)) “Smells earthy. I want me some of that….”
“Come here! Get over here… you smells yummy.”
“Hey… where’s you going?! I wants more!”
“nom nom nom…”
It was a great experience for the kids and a neat way to spend the afternoon.
I do feel sort of bad that we probably smelled like a dairy farm when we arrived at our hosts’ house. But it was worth it.
And I know those cows really appreciated having visitors. Maybe they liked seeing where their milk goes as much as we enjoyed seeing from whence it comes. Seriously though, it was neat for city kids who are so far removed from the food supply to see all of this up close and personal. Having visited a dairy farm, a turkey hatchery, a raisin plant, and trout farms as a child and if those experiences are any indicator, I think my kids will never forget the visit.