It’s a family affair at Tjaarda Dairy, a third-generation dairy farm in the Central Valley of California. Perry Tjaarda and his wife, Pauline, oversee the day-to-day operations while their two sons, Nathan and Blake, divvy up the rest of the work. When Perry and his father, Ed, got the chance to build their own dairy more than 20 years ago, they were committed to staying innovative. That’s why today, their 3,000 dairy cows get milked on a 60-stall rotary parlor, which is kind of like a slow-moving merry-go-round for cows that makes the whole milking process faster. The cows spend less time in the milking barn and more time outside, in open lots. And as Perry notes, “the cows sure seem to love it.”
But what the Tjaardas are proudest about is their commitment to their community. Besides working with the local 4H and FFA chapters, each year, Tjaarda Dairy supplies the cows for the maternity pen at the local county fair. “I love assisting with live births,” Perry says. “There’s just something special about helping people connect with where their food comes from.”
Dairy cows are curious by nature. I always know where something is happening on the farm because all the cows will wander over there.