Jill Hayward – Barriere Star/Journal
Overlooking the North Thompson River, with a spectacular view of Green and Baldy Mountains, the Rainer Farm in Darfield, B.C., is home to Debbie and Karl Rainer.
This is where Karl Rainer (senior), back in 1932, first started farming in the North Thompson Valley, and where his family continues to farm today.
On the farm, the days start before the sun rises, and have always been busy, milking cows, feeding livestock, moving sprinklers, haying, fencing, repairing machinery, mucking out stalls, gardening, and a seemingly endless supply of duties that keep the farm functioning. And all this while the Rainers have also raised their children and grandchildren.
Milking cows has also been a way of life on the farm for the Rainers, from producing milk for personal use in the early 1930s, first shipping cream in 1937, and in most recent years, milking 32 cows and shipping 900 litres of milk daily to Dairyland in the Lower Mainland.
Dairy cows produce milk on a strict timetable, one that for the Rainers started every morning at 5 a.m., milking the 32 dairy cows, and then doing it all again in the afternoon, when the whole herd was brought in for milking at 3:30 p.m.
Karl and Debbie Rainer say being dairy farmers has been a way of life for them since they were married in 1980, although Karl already had been working with the dairy cows since the early ‘70s.
Last week Karl and Debbie turned the final page on Rainer Farm’s dairy herd as they bid goodbye to the cows that have been a consistent part of their operation since the start way back in the 1930s.
“It’s been a hard decision to make,” said Karl, “But our sons are not interested in continuing in the dairy business, and have other interests.”
Karl said he is sad to see the end of an era at Rainer Farm, but that he and Debbie will now have more time to spend with family and grandchildren, to travel, and to do other things they have been interested in but never had the time to pursue.
“I’m really not happy about the decision to sell, but it is the right one to make,” said the dairy man.
Debbie says it’s going to be strange for awhile, but a good friend came up with the idea of a going away party for the grandchildren to say “goodbye to the cows”, and that brightened us all up a little with the kids in the barn feeding the cows and having fun”.
What about Rainer Farm, will it remain the same?
According to the Rainers nothing else has changed – they’ll still be raising beef, chickens turkeys, lamb, and son Ben will of course be operating Rainer’s Custom Cutting on the property.
The family will continue to grow their own vegetables, Debbie will dazzle the farm workers and friends with her great baking, and the Rainer hospitality will never end.
“It’s been a big step,” say the couple, “But now we’ll have more time to enjoy the grandchildren.”
History of Rainer Farm in Darfield, B.C.
Karl Rainer (senior) was born in January of 1905. He came to Canada in 1927 from Austria.
In 1932 he purchased the main farm of 160 acres from Bessie O’Conner.
Karl married Ingeborg Salle on October 1, 1936. Ingeborg’s parents arrived from Germany in 1912, she was born in September 1915. Her parents missed boarding the Titanic as their luggage had not arrived at the port.
Karl and Ingeborg slowly built up a small dairy herd. In 1937 they shipped cream. Karl packed the cream cans on his back to the highway, where the North River bus would pick them up for delivery.
They had three children. Anita born in 1943, Linda in 1946 and Karl Jr. In 1958.
The two daughters married and left the family farm. One lives in Kamloops, and the other in Clearwater, B.C.
In 1976 Karl graduated school, and Karl senior died after a battle with cancer.
Karl had been doing most of the farm work with Inge and took over the operation of the farm at this time. They were milking 12 cows and shipping cream to Noca Dairy in Vernon, B.C.
They also had a small herd of beef cattle.
They had an old milking barn with a small red building on the end where the milk was separated. Cream was shipped and the skim milk was fed to the pigs.
Karl junior and Debbie (Splay) were married in September of 1980.
At this time Ingeborg purchased a mobile home and set it up on the home property as her home.
In September 1981 Karl and Debbie had their oldest son Ben, and in the same year built a new dairy barn.
When Noca dairy was sold to Dairyland, they no longer wanted cream shippers.
So Rainer Farm started shipping milk instead of cream that year.
They went on to have a second son, Dustin in 1984, and the youngest, Kurtis, in 1985.
In 1990 Karl and Debbie built a new home on the main property.
In 2002 Ingeborg Rainer passed away after suffering a heart attack while walking across the yard.
Up to November of this year the Rainer Farm has been milking an average of 32 cows and shipping 900 litres of milk daily to Dairyland in the Lower Mainland.
The farm has over 40 head of beef cows that calve early each spring, and in summer they range on crown land behind the main property.
In fall the calves are sold.
Pigs are also purchased as wieners and raised to be processed though the plant on site.
In 2008 a new slaughter and processing plant was approved for operation on the farm site.
Ben Rainer is the plant manager and owner-operator of Rainer Custom Cutting.
Ben was married to Angie Fortier in June of 2007. They have two children, Joy born November of 2008, and Ty, born May of 2011. The couple is currently building a new home on the farm.
Dustin Rainer now lives in the mobile home along with his daughter Emily, born in February of 2007.
Dustin runs the day-to-day operation of the farm with Karl.
Dustin also raises meat birds and turkeys, as well as having 11 ewes that will lamb in the spring. In his spare time he hunts and traps farm predators.
Kurtis lives in the main family house and works off the farm for his living.
When he is not working away, he helps out on the farm, welding repairs and new projects, electrical work, farm maintenance and any other jobs that may need attention.