Celebrate Summer by Cow Gazing and Enjoying Ice Cream
The stars at night are big and bright in farming country. While those who live in urban areas often comment on how great the star gazing is in rural areas, they now have the opportunity to cow gaze thanks to a unique experience available from New Day Dairy GuestBarn in Clarksville, Iowa.
“Because I didn’t grow up on the farm, I knew visiting a farm is intriguing and exciting for people,” says Lynn Bolin, who grew up in a Minneapolis suburb and met her husband, Dan, while they were both students at Iowa State University. “Dan and I traveled a lot in our younger years, so we value travel for the experiences you can bring home. Travel is about enriching life, not just escaping life, for us. Part of traveling is also experiencing foods unique to that area. I truly believe that food is the tapestry that weaves us all together. The way and what we eat looks different from person to person but I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t eat!”
Lynn and Dan, a fifth-generation dairy farmer, started their own dairy operation on December 9, 2015, with 110 cows. Not only do the Bolins open their gates to farm tours, but they have taken the “farm experience” one step farther by opening a European-inspired guesthouse attached to their barn.
“All guests get access to 24/7 cow gazing from the GuestBarn loft. If a calf is born while guests are staying, they get to help name the calf. We also give every guest an introductory farm tour, so they can meet our cows up close and watch Rita the Robot at work as she milks cows.”
Rita the Robot milks cows 24/7 at New Day Dairy. The cows choose when to get milked, which is on average, three times a day.
“The cows love the consistency of Rita because they know exactly what she going to do every time, and she never has a bad day!” explains Lynn. “Dan enjoys the robot because it gives him flexibility in his day, which makes his job more interesting. Because he doesn’t have to put milking cups on the cows all day, he has more time to care for the cows and provide more technical maintenance.”
Some guests add “Be a Dairy Farmer Challenge” to their stay. This tour is given exclusively from #DairymanDan. He takes them on a tractor ride and learn to hand milk a cow. They also walk with the cows and peek inside Rita the Robot and bottle-feed a calf. Another highlight of this tour package is helping feed the calves.
Another popular add-on is “Make-Your-Own Ice Cream” package, which includes an ice cream maker and all the supplies to make vanilla ice cream plus toppings. What better place than a dairy farm to experience how ice cream is made? While guests wait for the ice cream to be made, they can work on cow-themed puzzles and look through a picture window in the loft of the GuestBarn to watch cows either lounging or getting milked by Rita the Robot.
“Families play farm-themed board games, put together puzzles or play with farm toys. They also can enjoy stargazing in the garden or walking down our private lane. Many guests enjoy playing with our two porch cats,” says Lynn. “While there are many activities to enjoy nearby in Cedar Valley, most of our guests choose to spend their entire stay at the GuestBarn. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy time together as a family, as well as opportunities for relaxation.”
Since the New Day Dairy GuestBarn opened in January 2020, they have hosted many Midwest visitors. They’ve also become a place for families to meet as the farm is located in the middle from Minneapolis to Des Moines or Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Omaha. They also have hosted guests from as far away as Germany and from New York, Washington, Florida and Texas.
Enjoy these photos from a day at the farm.
Questions frequently asked during all farm tours include:
- Do the cows stay inside all year long? (yep, in the summer they have a shaded “picnic pavilion” barn with big fans. In the winter they’re protected from the winter)
- How old is your oldest cow? (a cow typically lives on the farm until they’re 6-10 years old)
- What are all those big long white bags? (the cows’ pantry – we store their corn silage & haylage fermented, like canning from a garden, so they can eat it all year long)
- What are they laying on? (sand – it’s comfy and it’s clean)
- How much do cows’ sleep? (they take “cow naps” but they don’t all sleep all night long – that’s why Rita the Robot can milk them all night long)
- How long a cow is pregnant? (approximately 9 months)
- How many calves does a cow have on average in her lifetime? (two to four)
- Do you have a bull on the farm? (no, that wouldn’t be safe for us or our guests. Dan uses a process called assisted inseminated to help each cow get pregnant when she’s ready)
- What is a female cow called? (technically only a female that has had a calf is a cow)
- What is male cow called? (bull or steer, depending on whether he is intact)
- What is a baby cow called? (calf)
- What is a heifer? (a female bovine that hasn’t had her first calf)
“One thing I stress is that there really is no dumb or off-limit question,” says Lynn. “Folks ask about how much things cost, our family’s lifestyle, and more!”
Lynn makes it easy to ask questions as guests are encouraged to text her questions throughout the day. If you’re interested in learning more about life on an Iowa Dairy Farm, follow @NewDayDairy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Celebrate National Ice Cream Month in July with one of the Bolin family’s favorite recipes for Oatmeal a la Mode. Ice cream for breakfast? Yes, please!
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal a la Mode
- 2½ cups quick oats
- 3½ cups milk
- 2 apples, chopped
- 1½ cinnamon
- 1/4 cup raisins
- vanilla ice cream
- Place apples, quick oats, and milk into a large microwave safe bowl.
- Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir.
- Continue microwaving stirring every 60 seconds until oatmeal has reached desired consistency.
- Stir in cinnamon & raisins.
- Scoop oatmeal into individual bowls & top with desired amount of vanilla ice cream.
NOTE: Find more dairy-licious recipes at www.newdaydairy.com.