BLUE CREEK DAIRY FARM

Anyone interested in starting a small dairy has already realized the myriad of required equipment.  Add to this that most of the equipment on the market is geared towards large operations, and this just makes the challenge more difficult.  Luckily, one thing we do have is a lot of time.  We're building our dairy like Johnny Cash built his car...one piece at a time.

Milk Tanks
1953 Dari-Kool
In November 2008, we heard about a used 100 gallon bulk tank on an abandoned dairy in Sequim, Washington. One of those “I know a guy who knows a guy...” situations. The tank did exist, although the only residents of recent being massive blackberry brambles that we had to hack through to get to the dilapidated milk house. After buying the tank, Stacy managed to lure some of his fellow USCG crewmembers with free pizza to help us get the tank home (After spending a couple of hours clearing blackberry brambles). We didn't know at the time, but the tank weighed in at 685 pounds!

It is a Dari-Kool model DKS-100.  We had a refrigeration guy remove the freon and charge the system with nitrogen since we'll be storing the tank. We plan to repurpose the tank as a cheese vat.

Dari-Kool Instruction Manual
Dari-Kool Advertising Brochure
Dari-Kool 1953 Brochure

In 2016 we decided to sell this tank to a great couple wanting to make it into a cheese vat for their enterprise!

1957 Van-Vetter
In 2013, we found this 130 gallon 1957 Van-Vetter tank on a dairy that we had worked on in Washington. Van-Vetter tanks were built in Seattle, and this one was originally installed on a dairy in Astoria. Stacy had always liked these tanks as a milk-hauler because of their fit and finish, and how well they drained.

This tank also came with the original tank calibration chart. We had it the refrigeration system leak tested and charged with nitrogen. Luckily, there were no leaks! This will be our primary milk tank once we get the dairy started.
Tractors
In 2012, Stacy found this 1955 Farmall Cub for sell in Naselle, Washington (just across the river from Astoria). It was bought new by Charles Moore of Fall City, Washington in 1955 (interestingly near Carnation, WA). It came with a grading blade, 5’ sickle-bar mower, one-bottom plow and dual gang disc harrow. It runs great! It was always stored inside (except harrow) and was well cared for.

We have already gotten a ton of work out of our cub! Their slogan "a Cub in size, but a Bear for work" certainly holds true. We've used the sickle-bar mower to mow the non-hay areas to keep down weeds, the grading blade to move around gravel, disc harrow for field work, and towed lots of material in a wagon. We know a larger, newer tractor with a loader is in our future, but we will always have work for the Cub on the farm.

We have been using our faithful Farmall Cub for a few years now, and though it is excellent for certain tasks, it does lack a front end loader and a modern PTO. Since 2008, yes, even before we bought our property, we have been looking at New Holland tractors.  

The
Workmaster series are basic compact agricultural tractors with uncluttered decks and straightforward controls. We also liked that we have two New Holland dealers nearby and feel pretty comfortable that their company will still be in business in the future as we need parts and service. We decided on the Workmaster 40 because it is compact and meets our work needs.
Milking Parlor


We always knew enough to know that we didn’t want a flat milking parlor. Even though we will have only a few cows, we feel that the additional expense of a raised parlor is worth it in the long run for our health and happiness. The type of parlor we wanted is called a side opener, and in all respects is generally considered obsolete today.

But, the reason we like it is because you can see the entire profile of the cow, not just “teats and feet.” Also, unlike a herringbone style where one cow can hold up the entire milking process, in a side opener, each cow can enter and go independently.

1945 Surge System of Milking Catalog:
Large File (35MB)
Small File

Side opening milking stalls are still around here and there, but for someone handy, they can readily be built.
1958 USDA Side Opening Milking Stall plan

Luckily, we will not have to resort to building our own side opening milking stalls as in the Spring of 2011 we bought some old Surge “sawtooth” side opening milking stalls from our neighbor out of his scrap pile. We pieced together two complete stalls, and the components are in remarkable shape. Much of the original “Swamp Holly Orange” paint is still intact.

We had to buy some steel posts for the uprights, but otherwise most of the pieces were there! We set them up in the shop, and look forward to refinishing and installing them in the new dairy building.







In October 2016, we were also lucky enough to visit friends in Wisconsin that use Surge Side Opening stalls! This was really great because it reinforced our desire to milk in such a parlor, and it allowed us to measure the raised parlor height and see what would work best for us.

Here is a blog entry on that visit!
Horse Drawn
We plan to put our draft horses to work including putting up hay.

At left is a circa 1942 John Deere hayloader we bought in 2011. It did need work, but we found a completely rebuilt one at the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum. They also had some spare parts we bought to help restore ours.
Hay Loader Owner's Manual:
Large File (14MB)
Small File
Hay Loader Brochure:
Large File (16MB)
Small File

In 2015 we finally restored the hay loader to all its glory!




To cut hay we'll use both our tractor and our 1941 International No. 9 high gear mower. In the background is the hayloader all tarped up in 2011.
Cans/Milkers
Even though we are the proud owner of a bulk milk tank, It’s quite handy to have a few milk cans around. It was quite difficult to find these, as nearly all new milk cans on the market are cheap, overseas imports. I don’t remember how, but we eventually came across a small Amish company in Ohio that still makes grade ‘A’ milk cans. Pictured are two 5 gallon, and one 10 gallon milk can we purchased. We have since purchased an additional 10 gallon can. They also manufacture other sizes of milk cans as well as assorted dairy wares.

Manufactured by:
Holmco Container Manufacturing Company
Eli Troyer, Owner
1501 TR 183, Baltic, OH 43804
330-897-4503

Although we will have a small number of cows we intend to have a pipeline (chased by air to clear the line of milk), there is always a need for a few bucket milkers. The Surge bucket pictured isn't Grade A, but is a nice artifact nonetheless. We think it will make a lovely flowerpot!