A tribute to farming, family, and faith
By Diana Meeks
What do you call something that is constant but ever changing? Did you ever think that the answer might be a dairy?
This is the 108th year Twin Brook has been raising, grazing, and milking cows in Lynden, WA. In some ways it’s the same farm it’s always been. The cows blink out under long lashes wish soft eyes. With 200 of them Twin Brook has always chosen to keep their herd small, and on warm July days (like the day I visit) they prefer the shade inside, contentedly chewing their cud. Grand kids run through the farmyard, and that same sweet summer breeze that has been blowing for millennia runs its soft breath through the barn.
The 6th generation running around is learning skills that have been handed down over and again: how to drive a tractor, run a business, care for animals with respect, and be good stewards for the land the farm depends on. “It’s a lifestyle where you can teach your children honesty and relationships. And not only relationships with people but with animals and how you have been entrusted with taking care of them.”
They are deeply committed making time for and honoring the things that matter in their lives: family, faith, and bringing milk to market that’s whole and healthy. They have always been community minded and do a large amount of charitable giving, sponsoring scores of local 4H and FFA kids every year, plus school auctions and community events, and donating to nonprofits like the Kidstown Orphanage in Nepal.
In other ways, over the past 100 years the farm has changed and continues to adapt as time marches on. The herd is now entirely Jersey cows, as they are some of the kindest dairy cows and they also produce a milk that is higher in protein and butterfat . This makes it especially good for flavor. They began bottling their own in milk in 2007 to add value to their product and control how the milk is processed. It’s pasteurize at a low temperature to kill all bacteria yet also allow it to be as close to natural milk as possible, and they don’t homogenize their milk so the cream still floats to the top.
Over the past four years they’ve constructed two gigantic tanks and are building a third that will capture 3 million gallons of manure and waste water. These three tanks have replaced the earthen storage lagoons. They’ve invested much time and care for our local ecosystems, and are always analyzing what further they can do. Recently, they’ve also gotten robotic milkers after years of milking the herd twice a day, starting at 4 am – this is a change both the family and the cows enjoy. The employee who helped the family milk has moved over to their bottle processing facility and now the cows “decide when they want to get milked, they decide when they want to go to the feed bunk and eat, they decide when they want to go to the pasture and eat, and they decide when they want to lay down and rest. No ones in charge of them except themselves.” They are more relaxed and it clearly shows. Their production has increased noticeably since they’ve switched over, and cows will wait in line when they feel its time to get milked (one Jersey peers out as she waits her turn below).
Standing in the barn built by Larry’s grandfather adjacent to the new bottling center, I can feel history stretching backward and forward, sense the weight of the place and how important it is to this family. Their commitment to this work and the quality of their products are amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day out on the farm.
To visit this gorgeous place for yourself come and get a tour of the bottling facility, take a wagon ride, and learn more at the 12th Annual Whatcom County Farm Tour! They will be open on Saturday, September 8th, from 10-4pm. To support Twin Brook and get awesome milk for you and your family look for them at your local grocery store including the Community Food Co-op and Haggens!