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Scotch Prairie Farms host a family farm night for the Wabasha community

After not being able to hold the annual event due to the pandemic, Scotch Prairie Farms brought back Family Night on the Farm for Wabasha County.

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Inside of dairy cow barn during Family Night on the Farm.
Bella Carpentier / Post Bulletin
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LAKE CITY — Kids and parents alike got an education in the lives of dairy cows Thursday evening at Scotch Prairie Farms, located south of Lake City, during Wabasha County's “Family Night on the Farm.”

The June 16, 2022, evening was designed to educate families in Wabasha County a little bit about how cows produce milk, and how that milk gets from those bovines to the kitchen table. Event-goers were able to look inside the barn to learn more about the nutrition and diet of the dairy cows and could climb a set of stairs into an overhead gallery to see how the cow carousel aids in milking cows.

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The event hadn’t happened the past few years because of the COVID-19 pandemic but before that, it was an annual event, said Brian Yotter, the fourth-generation owner of the dairy farm.

Adam Hain, who works for a milk distribution company hired by the farm, brought his 2-year-old daughter and showed her a trio of cows that lay outside in a small, fenced off enclosure where children crowded around trying to reach through the fence to pet the cows.

Hain said he wanted to find a time to show his daughter around the farm that wasn’t at 2 a.m., which is when he is normally there for work, and this event posed a good opportunity to do so.

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When he brought his daughter over to the cow carousel, Hain said she wasn’t scared of the cows and started waving and saying hi to them.

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Dairy Cows outside during Wabasha County Family Night on the Farm.
Bella Carpentier / Post Bulletin

At the farm, children were able to be outside and see where milk comes from which isn’t something they would get to do everyday, Yotter said.

In one of the bigger barns that houses the cows, there was a booth set up to educate people about the diet of cows on the farm. Vita Plus is the company responsible for managing the feed and nutrition of the dairy cows.

“We want cows to eat the same food every day so there is minimal variation,” Wyatt Smith, a nutrition consultant for Vita Plus, said. “Cows don't like variation.”

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Cow Carousel on Scotch Prairie Farms.
Bella Carpentier / Post Bulletin

Inside the barn was a table that exhibited each of the components of the cows feed and the nutritional benefits of each. Cotton seeds, corn silage and alfalfa are some of the ingredients in the dairy cows' food.

Educational posters were hung up around the food with facts about cows: one of these said 80% of what cows eat cannot be eaten by people.

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“The cows are pretty damn cool in that way,” Smith said.

The Family Night drew in a large amount of attendees from parents who brought their younger kids to learn to older folks there to socialize. While the event was largely educational, there was also a food truck from a local restaurant, Fiesta Jalisco, that attracted a long line.

Veterinarians from Northern Valley Livestock Services set up a booth to teach the kids about what they do during their weekly health checkups with the cows. The Lake City Fire Department came out too and let people climb up into a firetruck to take pictures.

Whether people were there to learn about dairy farming or just to chase around an orange farm cat, the Wabasha County community seemed excited to be back together after not being able to hold this event due to the pandemic.

Bella Carpentier is a journalism and political science student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN-TC). She is currently the managing editor of the student-run paper at UMN-TC, the Minnesota Daily. While reporting for the Minnesota Daily, she covered student activism and issues affecting the university's student body. Working for the Post Bulletin, Bella hopes to build community connections and advance her reporting skills. Readers can reach Bella at bcarpentier@postbulletin.com.
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