At Davis Dairy, milk mixes with lessons in farm life

GILMORE CITY – A 110-year old dairy, owned and operated by Lawrence and Lois Davis, and their son, Glenn Davis, became a classroom on Friday during the farm’s annual Dairy Day.

The Davis farm started in 1903.

“I started the dairy many years ago,” Lawrence Davis said, “and we want these children to know what goes on on a regular dairy.

“It’s not the biggest and best, just a family dairy farm.”

Lois Davis kidded her husband, saying, “He only married me because I knew how to milk cows.”

Married in 1951, Lois Davis said she stepped into the family operation that included milking by hand.

Now the operation milks about 60 to 70 head, she said.

“It’s just me and Lawrence,” Davis said, “but we’re old. He’s 87 and I’m not too far behind. So we don’t do much.”

The bulk of the work is handled by their son, Glenn, and his wife, Tracy, and, generally, one hired hand.

“But they don’t usually stay long,” Lois Davis said. “The work is too hard.”

Glenn Davis said he’s been milking cattle on his family’s Gilmore City-area farm for 34 years and feels honored to help keep his family’s dairy heritage alive.

“We are the last dairy in Humboldt County, and I am proud of that,” he said.

Davis Dairy markets milk to AMPI in Sanborn, where it’s eventually made into cheese that, Davis said, is sold worldwide.

Dairy Day was expected to see upward to 400 pupils Friday. They stood transfixed as an AMPI bulk milk truck pulled into the farm drive and backed up to the milk house.

The main focus of Dairy Day is to feature the dairy, but also bring in other animals for the children to experience.

That included sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, pigs, miniature horses and a miniature donkey. A magician and horse and carriage rides entertained the youths. A treat of cookies and string cheese greeted them at the end of the tour.

They also had the opportunity to learn about feed from Tim Fakler, director of nutrition at Kerber Milling Co., in Emmetsburg.

Fakler told touring classes that dairy cattle require different vitamins and minerals along with their feed and taught the children that a dairy cow can drink an entire bath tub of water every day in order to produce milk.

Sandi Lee, with Lee’s Mini-Whinnies of Dakota City, showed a miniature Palomino and its 5-day-colt, which were furnished by Denise Johnson, of Humboldt.

You can’t tour a dairy without watching cows being milked.

Cows are milked twice a day. Ten cattle can be milked at a time with each cow producing more than 50 pounds of milk a day.

Lawrence Davis was busy attending to the children and making sure everyone was getting to their places and enjoying themselves.

“This is good for the kids,” he said. “A lot of the little kids haven’t seen anything like this in their lifetime.”

Glenn Davis was also enjoying watching the children adoring the animals.

He smiled after one pupil finished examining dairy rations and said, “OK, I touched everything. What’s next?”