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'It's in his blood': 90-year-old P.E.I. dairy farmer still milking cows

A 90-year-old P.E.I. farmer started milking cows at the family's dairy farm in Port Hill, P.E.I. when he was a kid in the 1930s — and he's still milking today.

Heath MacLennan helps his son milk about 30 cows on family farm in Port Hill, P.E.I.

90-year-old dairy farmer Heath MacLennan has been milking cows since the 1930s and says 'I still love doing it.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

Every day around 5:40 p.m., 90-year-old Heath MacLennan crosses the road to the family farm in Port Hill, P.E.I., to help his son milk the cows.

"He rushes over," said Hilton MacLennan, who now owns the family farm. "Mom says he can't wait to get over and that's the highlight of the day. It's in his blood."

Heath has been milking cows at the farm since he was a kid in the 1930s.

"I still love doing it," he said, even though "everything has changed."

Meet a 90-year-old P.E.I. dairy farmer who's still milking every day 0:53

As he attached a milking machine to one of the 30 holsteins standing in the barn, he recalled milking by hand in the old days.

"We used to milk them out in the field one time," he said. "It wasn't a very excellent job when it was raining. The water was running off the cows."

You don't see too many 90-year-olds out milking cows.- Adam MacLennan

He's not sure if it would be a good idea to milk the cows by hand today. 

"I wouldn't want to touch them when they're not used to it now. They might kick the head off you."

Heath MacLennan's son, Hilton, says milking cows with his father ensures family time at least once a day. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Hilton said milking the cows for an hour a day provides a daily connection with his father, who lives across the street.

"Nowadays, families hardly see each other, with the world the way it is now and social media and everything," Hilton said. "But we see each other every day."

'We go pretty wicked'

Although a machine does the actual milking, it takes time to set up, and to carry the hoses around to each cow. 

"The two of us get going here, sometimes we go pretty wicked," Heath said.

Heath checks the milk flowing into the control room. He says he prefers his milk unhomogenized. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Heath's grandson Adam, who also helps out on the farm, said he admires his grandfather's work ethic.

"You don't see too many 90-year-olds out milking cows," he said. "But if I was 90, I hope I'm down in Florida somewhere golfing."

'Last one out'

Adam said his grandfather likes to get in and start the pipeline, the wash, and hose everything down.

"He's usually the last one out of here."

Adam also knows not to be caught checking his phone while his grandfather is there.

"He'll tell you to put your phone down, but I guess that's what any boss does."

Heath MacLennan's grandson, Adam, says he admires his grandfather's work ethic. (Pat Martel/CBC)

  
Milking cows is not the only chore the elder MacLennan does around the farm. 

He plows the fields and helps put in the crops.

'I don't like homogenized stuff'

Heath doesn't get paid for his work on the farm. There is, however, one benefit he looks forward to everyday — fresh milk, straight from the cow. 

"That's all I know. I don't like homogenized stuff."

Heath does other chores around the farm, as well, such as driving the tractor and helping with crops. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Heath, who's been married for 68 years, loves the daily routine of milking and said he plans to do it "till the Fella up there wants me."

But "apparently," he added, "I don't think He wants me."