I have a secret, when I was a kid, I lived next to a dairy farm. That’s right I was a farm girl, complete with goats, horses and chickens. I’m a city girl now and I still have chickens, but I still love farms. Darigold invited me to tour Coldstream Farms, a dairy farm that is part of their 500 farm co-op in the Pacific Northwest. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Deming, it’s about two hours north of Seattle near the Canadian border. It's a beautiful drive.
Jeff and Vickie Rainey started Coldstream Farms in 1978, and today their enterprise has grown to be a 1200 acre farm with 1250 cows. The farm is operated by Jeff and his son in law Galen Smith. Vickie and his daughters Laura Smith and Lynne Wheeler also work on the farm.
The farm I grew up next to was nothing like Coldstream Farms. The working dairy farm showcases how farms are incorporating technology to increase milk production, improve energy efficiency and most importantly, ensure cows receive the best care possible. They are constantly making improvements, whether its a new barn, how they clean the stalls every time the cows go to be milk (yes, every single time) or fine tuning their feed.
We learned they have very strict standards on how their cows are treated, right down to how they are talked to. Don’t yell or whistle at cows, its not nice and not necessary! Why would you want to yell at this sweet face?
While we were there, we learned that they make their own blend of feed, and it’s the perfect balance of different grains for the cows, without allowing for any waste. A special backhoe loads all the grains into a special hopper that blends them into the perfect feed.
We were constantly greeted by the dairy cows while we were there. They are such social ladies, and were very curious about the bloggers with their cameras. Some of them may be considered camera hogs. ☺
Something else that's interesting is that cows at Coldstream Farms wear a pedometer that reports how much they walk each day. These cool pieces of wearable technology allow the farmers to determine which cows are in estrus and which may be getting sick days before visual symptoms are present.
Milking the cows is the coolest thing! The rotary parlor that contains state-of-the-art milking technology – did you know that the cows line up to be milked in the same order every time. All on their own. In fact, if a cow doesn’t line up in her usual spot, they know something is amiss.
And the pedometer the cows are wearing ? The anklets are digitally connected to the sorting gates at the parlor’s exit, which allows the gates to guide cows to the correct area based on their pedometer transmission.
So where does all this milk go? A majority of the dairy farmers in Whatcom County ship their milk to Darigold (a co-op owned by farmers). Darigold is flash-pasteurized, making sure it maintains all the flavor and lasts longer in your fridge. It's also free of rBST growth hormones.
The holding tanks for the milk as it’s being processed, and the utmost care is taken to make sure each stage is done properly, everything from temperature to testing the milk to make sure that it’s free of any impurities.
Like all Darigold farms, the family at Coldstream Farms care about their cows and what's best for them. They try to make the best decision for the cows and if they can’t, they don’t do it, because it’s not right by them. The farmers at Coldstream love their cows.
I wish I could have brought my kids with me, so they could see first hand where milk comes from, and how happy the cows are, and I know they would have loved the babies. So sweet.
Darigold is known for their cottage cheese, and I'm so excited to try it in some new recipes and old favorites too!