Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Field Trip

Field trips just keep "happening" for us - without us even planning them. So fun!

This weekend, Ken's folks planned a trip back to the dairy farm their children grew up on - to see the place and the operation that it has become since the Klassen family left it.

Memories. Lots of them came bounding back for Dad, Mom & their family and those in-laws and grandchildren old enough to remember. In addition, memories were made as the whole extended family spent a memorable afternoon together.

The dairy that Dad sold 22 years ago had about 40 milking cows. The present dairy currently milks 640 cows two times per day. With 12 employees, about half are their family members, it takes 4 hours to milk, feed and bed the cows. They have a state of the art, 50 cow turntable milking parlor -- 50 cows being milked at once! It is all computer operated. The production of each cow is monitored.
All the stock is raised from within the herd. There are a lot of animals on the yard - a guesstimate would be at least 1500 head - ALL under roof. There are four "Cover-All" shelters filled with pens that house the calves from birth to 6 months or so. From there they "graduate" to the barns -- of course, some are culled along the way, bull calves sold, etc.

One of the calf shelters:

A real robot!! A remote controlled "feed-pusher" that sweeps the feed back to where the cows can reach it. Here it is at its docking station for a recharge (it had fallen into a gutter. We watched it get "unstuck" by an employee using a bobcat. Once it was again on level concrete, he just used his remote to guide it into its dock. VERY interesting!!)

The milking parlour outside:

... inside:

... going around once:

... inside & underneath the turntable:

The whole operation is massive: numerous HUGE barns all connected.

FOUR silos:

Notice the concrete yard for all the heavy equipment to drive on from building to building ... and our boys thought the really amazing part was that they had a tractor for EACH job -- and it was a general consensus among the older sibling generation that they were the "right kind" with the "right colors", green & yellow, John Deere.

Ken & his Mom took great interest in their former garden site. Here he is checking out the trees he planted as a teen. The willow in the back ground is TALL ... and the grapevines Mother had are right to the top of it now -- with grapes all the way up!

That willow reaching for the sky:

Later, at a wiener roast supper ... the three newest family members get head to head for their first time (the youngest being the first great-grandchild for Ken's folks):

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