A 95-year-old tradition is coming to an end. Iowa State will cease operations at its Ames dairy farm, in anticipation of a new state-of-the-art facility to be built south of Ames in about three years.
Severe budget cuts forced the College of Agriculture to close the old farm sooner than expected. The far- once on the outskirts of Iowa State - is now landlocked by nearby dormitories, highways, and athletic facilities, and the farm has incurred significant operating losses, say administrators.
By December, the cows and teaching facilities will be moved from the farm on Mortensen Road to ISU's other dairy facility in Ankeny, where they will stay pending construction of the new $15 million facility. Sale of the Ankeny farm is expected to cover most of the cost of the new dairy farm.
The Committee for Agricultural Development, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the university, has leased the land south of Ames where ISU hopes to locate the new dairy farm, and negotiations have begun on its purchase. Ideally, the campus dairy farm would not have closed until the new farm was in operation. But the decreases in the state funding coupled with a lack of appropriations to cover mandatory salary increases, forced the college of Agriculture to make cuts in its budged.
There are no plans to raise raze the historic barns, built in 1908. Officials want to determine the historical value of the buildings. Many Alumni have written with their memories of the old barns. Among them are Jane Coletti Perry ('67) and Karen Coletti ('65 daughters of Anthony Coletti ('37), who supervised the dairy farm from 1940-1972.
"When we were little, our favorite place to visit was the calf barn. We would wander up and down the center aisle of the barn and look at every calf. Sometimes we would let them suck our fingers with their sandpaper tongues. We always stopped by the milking parlor. Our father put a sign above the entrance which read, 'Every cow on this farm is a lady. Treat her like one.'
"For years, Daddy brought home unpasteurized milk from the dairy farm for our family to drink. Cream always collected at the tops of the glass quart bottles, and mother made delicious whipped cream from this.
"Daddy had a name for every cow. They were all his personal pets. Watching him call them was like magic. One warm day my sister and I were with him and we walked out to the pasture fence. Daddy called, 'Come Boss,' and the cows turned and began coming to the fence - all of them, lowing and lumbering along, coming to the fence to say hello. For two little girls, the entire cow kingdom belonged to our dad."