Smith Valley Dairy just started milking cows in Nevada, and Jamie, a born and raised city girl, joined Libby Lovig to take a tour and experience something new. Here’s Jamie’s account of her first-ever dairy farm experience:
Every Tuesday around 9:30am, I head to the grocery store to buy groceries for the week. The one item I always buy is milk, but I never knew how much hard work goes into making that gallon of milk until two weeks ago when I was given the opportunity to visit a brand new dairy in Smith Valley, NV (aptly named the Smith Valley Dairy). And boy was it an amazing experience!
Whenever I go to an unknown place, I’m always thinking about what it’s going to look like – trying to picture it so I have a visual. Having not been to a dairy before, I didn’t know what to expect, and I couldn’t visualize what I was about to see. As we turned down the long entrance to the dairy, I stop worrying about what it was going to be like, looked out the window, and took in the beauty of my surroundings. The view was breath taking – large green mountain tops, a light breeze rustling the trees…I pictured myself in a rocking chair with a glass of milk…sigh! Smith Valley is definitely cowboy country.
Upon entering the dairy, we were greeted warmly by one of the dairy’s employees. We stepped out of the car to say hello and snap a few photos, and I must admit that I was bracing for a not-so-good-smell. But, I was pleasantly surprised, it didn’t smell badly, rather it smelled like freshly-cut grass.
I was so excited to see all of the cows, and I was impressed by how much shade they had, and the ground they had to rest on seemed quite clean and fluffy. They looked really comfortable. The next thing that caught my eye were large blue plastic tubs, which I learned were basically large, self-filling water buckets for the cows. I was taking notes – a self-filling water dish for my animals would be pretty awesome!
We walked casually through the corrals to the milk parlor where we met Mr. & Mrs. Vlot and their son DJ, owners of this remarkable dairy. We shook hands and talked for a few minutes before they invited us in to tour the barn.
As we opened the door and entered the facility, the first thing I noticed was two large metal cylinders (bigger then my Jeep) that had ladders on them and temperature gauges. I learned that these are the holding tanks where the milk is stored before it is picked up by the milk truck and transported to the processing plant.
To the left of these tanks is a long hallway that leads to the milking parlor, where they milk the cows. I could not believe that they can milk 100 cows at a time. Each side hold 50 cows. To me, quite surprisingly, the building smelled like honey dew melon.
After taking a tour of the building we headed over to where they keep all the feed at for the cows. I’m going to call it the “Feed Bungalow” where the loader was filling up the feed truck.
Mr. Vlot explained to us why they had made their feed storage area larger than normal, “Since Smith Valley Dairy is so far out of town it is better to have more then to run out.” said Mr. Vlot.
I will never forget the conversations I had with the Vlot Family and the passion they have for their family & farm. The way they talked about their dairy and showed us around the farm really demonstrated their family values and the relationship they share with one another. It is truly amazing. They are the soil that keeps this country alive. They are the hard working Americans that power and breathe life into our healthy food. Thank you Vlot Family for welcoming me into your dairy farm and for showing me what it takes to produce that gallon of milk I pick up at the store every Tuesday morning.
This was my favorite picture I took that day. I’m not sure what they are talking about, but it just felt like the farm.