The locals know that spring has officially sprung in Creston once the cows are dancing in the pasture.
Kootenay Meadows, a farm in Lister, is home to 120 dairy cows – mostly Holstein, but also Swedish Red, Guernsey, and Normande breeds. Come fall when the fields get wet and muddy, the cows head into the barn where it’s warm and cozy.
For many years, the Harris family has enjoyed watching the cows celebrate the return to green grass after months spent inside for winter. The event has continued to grow, and on April 22, hundreds of spectators of all ages arrived to witness the spring turnout.
Owner Erin Harris was shocked by the size of the crowd that gathered along the fences to catch a glimpse of the happy cows coming out of the barn.
“We thought last year was an anomaly because of the event being right after COVID,” she said. “But it seems like this might be the new normal, and it’s wonderful. It’s grown past our expectations. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s 1,000 people here right now.”
Once the gates were finally flung open, the cows rushed outside and began to frolic with udders swaying wildly. If you’ve never seen it for yourself, you’d be surprised just how much the cows resemble playful puppy dogs – kicking up their heels, sprinting to and fro, and head butting each other in jest.
“They’re always pretty adorable, running around and jumping,” said Harris.
The dairy farm has been producing cheese since 2007 and bottling milk since 2011. Their products are supplied to grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops throughout Creston.
After taking ownership from her parents Wayne and Denise in January, Harris is looking forward to the future and trying new things.
Last year, the spring turnout coincided with the launch of two new products – cheese curds and soft serve ice cream. And this year, Kootenay Meadows is now offering a Scottish soft cheese called crowdie in traditional, cranberry, and herb and garlic flavours.
“My parents have been able to retire and actually start to relax a little bit, as much as any ex-dairy farmer knows how to,” she said. “There’s no way I could have taken over without the amazing staff of 14 people we have on the farm. I am grateful for the support.”