Father's Day Gift to Myself

I have to go to Toronto for work so I really wanted to spend some quality time with the kids before I leave. They were invited to a birthday party in Pictou (my hometown) this afternoon and Janine thought if I were able to take them it would give her a chance to get some ducks in a row before I leave. Made sense to me! Plus – there was an open house at a nearby farm I was really keen to go to. This was a chance to hit several birds, with one big stone.

The dairy farm we went to recently constructed a new barn. Not just any barn. This barn has robotic milking. Cows essentially determine when they want to be milked themselves and make their way to do so at their own discretion. I watched a show about this on the Discovery Channel several years ago and found it really intriguing. The way I understand it is that a computer monitors the chip assigned to each cow and tracks how often they eat, get milked, etc. If it sees the cow was milked too recently, it sends them away. When we toured the property and watched a cow get milked I asked one of the workers to describe the main differences with this approach. He said before, they milked the cows manually two times a day. With this system, some cows get milked 2, 3 or even 4 times a day, but with less human involvement. The system also sends notice if a cow hasn’t eaten in a while or displays any other abnormal behavior; this allows them to be more proactive with assessing the cow and getting a vet on site with earlier intervention. The kids were thrilled just to see cows. I don’t think they really appreciated how innovative and game changing this is for the farm. As we were watching the robot disengage udders one at a time, a lady looked at me and said it’s really exceptional that my kids are getting to see this. I was glad we went. 


We left a bit earlier than expected so had some time to kill before the birthday party. Fortunately my Mum’s house was between the farm and party, so we went there. Mairi and I coloured together, while the boys checked out a fort they’d helped make with their cousins in the woods. Sitting with Mairi, I realized it’d been a while since we had some genuine one-on-one time. It’s been a busy year with work and school. Loic joined us for a bit before taking us outside to tour the fort with Hudson. Everyone was really excited to give me a tour and explain how things worked. They were looking for attention, and validation. 

It’s those moments that validate our parenting as well. Spending the day, just the kids and I before going away, was the right call. 

So, Saturday was probably the best Father’s Day gift I could ever ask for. Yes it was busy, but not the kind of busy that you mind. Today I felt like a good dad, and I felt appreciated by my kids. 

My dad, passed away when I was in my early 20s, and I miss him. A lot. It’s the days like these that I remember about him. Those moments when I had his attention, hanging out at home or around town. One thing he always made sure of was that we knew he loved us. I think that came from not hearing it from his dad. It’s easy to pass off as generational; some men just see that as being soft and don’t say it. We assume our kids know we love them unconditionally. Dad made sure we heard him say it, to us. Its had such an impact on me that I constantly tell my kids I love them. My favourite and most consistent response comes from Hudson: “I know”.


- Rob