SYRACUSE -- Davis County used to be a haven for dairy farms, with more than 100 in operation 60 years ago.
That number has dwindled to one.
The Hamblin dairy farm in Syracuse is the only dairy farm left in Davis County. Owned and run by several members of the Hamblin family, the small farm has more than 200 cows, with at least 100 of them used for milking.
Every year, the family invites elementary schools to the farm to educate students about where milk comes from.
On Tuesday, nearly 1,800 first- and second-graders from 16 schools in Davis County came to the farm for a special learning experience coinciding with their study of animals and soil.
Stan Hamblin, 68, has been running the dairy farm for a long time and said he knows he will never become a millionaire, but "there are more important things than (money) out there," such as seeing how much the students gain from visiting the farm.
"I think it's important that kids learn where their food comes from, and not just from the store shelves," he said. "It's possible none of them have seen a cow being milked."
A nephew, Tyler Hamblin, 45, helps run the farm and knows how informative the day can be for the students and their parents, especially given some of the questions he has been asked.
One year, a parent asked him if any of their cows were chocolate milk cows.
"The question has been burned into my memory, because it was such a strange question," Tyler Hamblin said. "Every year, there is an odd question."
By opening up the farm, he hopes his family is helping students become more knowledgeable about food.
While visiting the milking parlor barn, where the cows are milked, Kaysville Elementary School first-grader Charlee Ortgiesen was surprised to learn the cows are milked by machine.
"I liked learning about how they get milk, because I didn't know that," Charlee said. "I thought they did it with their hands. It was really cool to see."
Many of the students were in awe as they visited the various stations at the farm on this field trip, sponsored by Utah State University's Davis County Extension 4-H program, the Farm Bureau and Soil Conservation Commission.
Students learned how sheep are sheared and how to grow wheat, saw samples of soil erosion and enjoyed the animal petting area.
The teachers were excited to provide their students with an interesting, educational experience.
"These kids don't get a lot of opportunities to be with live animals, so they are finding this fascinating," said Kaysville Elementary first-grade teacher Patricia Knavel.
"The smells are pretty new to them, too," she said, referring to the students' comments about the distinct animal odors.
Lance Hamblin, Stan Hamblin's 41-year-old son, told students that his family spends 4 1/2 hours -- starting at 4 a.m. -- and another four hours in the afternoon rotating the 100 milking cows, 10 at a time through the machines, being careful to put the claw-like suctions onto the cows' udders as slowly and quietly as possible.
Otherwise, the cow tends to kick, which Lance Hamblin said he has learned from experience.
Sometimes, the Hamblins' day starts at
4 a.m. and doesn't end until 6 p.m., but they wouldn't change a thing, Stan Hamblin said.
He said he hopes to preserve the farm for his grandchildren.
Tyler Hamblin said the farm gives him a sense of purpose.
"Making something that people need makes me feel like we're doing something worthwhile."