Moo-ry Xmas: Holidays on a Canadian dairy farm

Article 4 min

Ever wonder how our Canadian dairy farmers (and their cows!) celebrate the holidays? Well, wonder no more! Two Canadian dairy farmers paint us a picture of how the season’s festivities look for them (hint: it’s a little bit different from yours).

By DFC - PLC, Communications Team
Cows in the barn around a large pile of Christmas gifts.

Ah, the holidays! A time for family, celebration, and...gifts (just kidding—but you’ve got to admit it’s a perk, right?)! And as many Canadians prepare for the season, you may be curious to know how our dairy farmers get to celebrate on the farm. What many don’t realize is that they’re responsible for the key ingredients in several of our favourite holiday recipes, i.e. eggnog, cheesy mashed potatoes, and so on—silently playing a large role in many of our own celebrations.

That being said, to give you a glimpse of what it’s like, there’s no better source to ask than Canadian dairy farmers themselves. Brittany Derksen from Alberta and Jessie Caron from Quebec took time out of their busy schedules to give us the scoop.

 

Brittany Derksen and her cows in the barn beside Christmas gifts
Brittany Derksen know how to get in the holiday moo-d.

How does a dairy farmer celebrate the holidays?

The holidays are all about spending time with family for both Brittany and Jessie, although neither spend the night away from their cows (for the most part). For Jessie, the best part of the holidays is the night of the 31st.  She, her partner, and their kids get into their PJs and enjoy dinner in front of the TV—a cozy family bonding moment that hold a lot of nostalgia for her.

 

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It's not about the craziness of the season. It's about enjoying times together and being with the ones that we love the most.
Brittany Derksen, Sunfield Dairy Farm

Do Canadian dairy farmers get time off?And, how do they get their shopping done?

For Brittany, she coordinates with her dad and the two help each other out with tasks when one needs to take some time off. Something to note is that Jessie and Brittany are both extremely organized—they pre-plan their holiday shopping, hosting duties, and all! At the barn, Jessie explains, “We schedule routine maintenance well in advance to make sure nothing breaks over the holidays. Plus, we make sure the cows are taken care of. For example, we make sure that their hooves are trimmed and that their vaccines are up to date.” It goes to show that running a dairy farm really hones those organization and multitasking skills!

 

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Everybody knows that the cows come first… so our family comes to us.
Brittany Derksen

What are our farmers’ favourite recipes?

For a lot of us, gathering around a delicious meal is a large part of the season. As such, it makes sense that the same rings true for our dairy farmers. Apart from the big turkey (with stuffing made from scratch!), Brittany gushed about her favourite holiday treats: Pfeffernüsse (good luck trying to pronounce that!)—a delicious spiced cookie that her and her family can’t get enough of. She also claimed that she is the one responsible for the cheesecake (hope you’re not getting too hungry from reading this!).

Do cows enjoy the holidays?

Our dairy queens get in on the holidays in their own way too. The cows on Brittany’s farm are huge fans of Christmas carols. They seem to enjoy a CD of carols that have moos in place of the original lyrics (i.e. cows mooing to the tune of jingle bells)! Additionally, Brittany also takes the time to decorate the farm, so the holiday atmosphere is enjoyed by all (and yes, that includes the cows!).

 

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I started playing that in the barn and the cows are looking around like, what's going on? They love it, but it is hilarious to see their reaction.
Brittany Derksen

Although a cow’s diet is closely monitered for their optimal health and our farmers make sure the cows stick to their routine (no late nights for them!), Brittany did say that a few gingersnaps will sometimes go missing this time of year. Very mysterious indeed…

Brittany Derksen feeding her cow
Who says you can’t look festive while feeding your cows?

Does Santa ever visit the cows?

According to both Jessie and Brittany, they dutifully leave out treats for Santa (both sticking with the usual milk and cookies combo). As for whether or not he visits the cows, Jessie says “Santa’s never been to the stable. His schedule is probably way too busy. But we understand. He has to prioritize the kids,” while chuckling.  

While the cows need to be milked so we’re able to make our favourite holiday recipes, it’s clear that our dairy farmers (and their cows) get in on the holiday fun too!