Wanderlusts and adventurers have been shedding typical motel stays for more immersive experiences, renting secluded cabins in natural, peaceful settings or high-rise apartments in the center of a bustling city to get a real taste of the local culture. Travelers seeking a one-of-a-kind experience won’t be disappointed to visit Clarksville, Iowa, where they can “sleep with the cows” at New Day Dairy Guest Barn whose creative and unheard-of lodging design has earned them Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa (RRI) Entrepreneur Award.
Dan and Lynn Bolin, Butler County dairy farmers, built their two-story bed and breakfast on the family’s 130-year-old farm. The guest barn features three bedrooms, each with its own attached bathroom. A cozy kitchen offers a continental breakfast, including Dutch letters made by another local dairy farmer from the Netherlands. However, the crème de la crème of the space is the lounging quarters which overlook the Bolins’ dairy parlor.
Lynn, a former ‘city girl,’ says marrying her husband Dan sparked her appreciation and desire to share with others how today’s farms put animal care at the forefront of everything they do—something New Day Dairy Guest Barn visitors can see for themselves. Visitors are in awe, she says. “They say it’s comfortable and inviting. They love getting to sit and ‘cow gaze.’”
Dan, sharing his wife’s passion for connecting people with agriculture, shares her sentiments. “The best way for people to care more about each other and to have more compassion is to see through others’ windows,” he says. “So, we offer two windows for people to see through to get a sense of, ‘Wow, I’ve never experienced a cow’s life this way.’”
Executive Director of the Butler-Grundy Development Alliance Jeff Kolb says five years ago there was no lodging in Butler County, a huge need with surrounding bike trails and other recreational amenities. “We realized when Lynn first approached us about their idea, that it is so perfect for our county because we’re filling a void for our lodging, and we’re also connecting with our rural heritage,” he says, adding that anymore people aren’t looking for a standard hotel but an experience. “They’re looking for something unique, especially folks coming from the large metro areas. You get them out here and they love it. They embrace it. It’s so relaxing and for their kids, it’s an educational component.”
Upon arrival, New Day Dairy guests receive a tour of the dairy barn 120 cows call home. “Rita the Robot”, the Bolins’ automated milking system, allows cows to be milked comfortably at their leisure any time of the day. Each cow, Dan says, produces roughly 10 gallons of milk per day used to make cream cheese and swiss cheese. Guests also have a view of the calving pen where some have witnessed calves freshly born. And just like the parlor is equipped with the latest technology, the guest barn offers wireless internet and satellite TV, so guests can stay connected and share their cow “selfies.”
Dale Boelman, Butler County Farm Bureau president, says he’s been family friends with the Bolins for years and recognizes them as great attributes to the local community and dairy industry. “They’re pillars of our community and have served without any question. Lynn has really worked on promoting dairy outside of the county to show people where their food and milk is coming from,” says Boelman. “This whole new setup that they have here with the bed and breakfast is a beautiful way of showing people from the city how we take care of our animals.”
New Day Dairy Guest Barn is currently accepting group or family reservations. More details and booking information can be found at https://www.newdaydairy.com/.RRI is an Iowa Farm Bureau initiative that supports new and existing businesses through education, mentoring and financial resources. Since its inception, RRI has helped create more than $125M in economic impact for rural communities. For more information about RRI and upcoming business seminars, visit http://programs.iowafarmbureau.com/RRI.