The cows at Kootenay Meadows know that spring has come once the barn gates fly open to the fresh scent of green grass in the pasture.
The local dairy farm in Lister, owned by the Harris family, has been producing alpine-style cheeses since 2007 and bottling milk since 2011. Their products are supplied to grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops throughout Creston.
The 90 dairy cows at Kootenay Meadows – mostly Holstein, but also Swedish Red, Guernsey, and Normande breeds – head into the barn in the fall.
“As the pasture gets wet, we want to keep them off the heavy, clay soil,” said said Erin Harris, one of the co-owners. “By the end of October, the cows like to stay in their cozy barn.”
The Harris family has enjoyed watching the cows kick up their heels on the pasture for the spring turnout.
“We started inviting friends and neighbors, and it grew to become its own social event over the years,” said Harris.
The spring turnout has become very popular with the community. On April 23 for the first time since 2019, hundreds of Creston residents crowded elbow to elbow against the pasture fences to catch a glimpse of the happy cows.
People of all ages attended, from parents with their kids to a bus full of seniors from Swan Valley Lodge. Parking was scarce, with dozens of cars parked on the side of the road leading up to the farm.
To set the mood, Kokanee Brass was playing live music. Other vendors were set up as well, including Belle’s Photo Creations, Thistle Farms, and Root & Vine.
The event also included the launch of two new products for Kootenay Meadows.
“We now have authentic Quebec-style cheese curds, made with fresh milk. They’re really squeaky, with a nice sort of mellow flavor and a salty finish,” said Harris. “Then we also are making soft-serve ice cream in vanilla and chocolate.”
Free samples were flying out of the shop, receiving high praise from all who got a taste.
“We’re really lucky in the Kootenays because there’s so much support for local products,” said Harris.
“We’re just so grateful for all the community support.”