This year tested even the hardiest farmer, not only with prices, but also with weather. The weather was cool, the growing season was poor, the winter 2008-2009 was long, and the harvest of 2009 was even longer and muddier. The stress tested every one's spirits and wills. The resilient survived, but those who didn't make it weren't bad farmers....just in bad circumstances. And lessons were learned. At Orange Patch Dairy, we learned a few good lessons that I thought I would share as well as our goals for 2010:
Lessons Learned from 2009
- Always save for a rainy day-this was our saving grace this year. When times were good, we put away as much money as we could. That money helped pay bills that we didn't have enough cash flow to pay for.
- Take a Vacation. Taking a break from the stress of the farm has no value. Time off to be with family and friends is invaluable...we know this is true.
- Top notch care for our cows always comes first, no matter the cost! We worked the entire year making sure that we sacrificed nothing for the cows, but instead spent less on ourselves. Our cows' care always comes first on our dairy farm, they are loved greatly.
- Keep doing what you do best. We know we take good care of our cows-we worked all of 2009 to continue doing that, and making the best care even better.
- Breathe-find JOY in the small things. If we couldn't have financial success in 2009, we had small successes: a new born heifer calf, a healthy cow, a beautiful sunset, all of God's great blessings.
Goals for 2010
- Improve our cow facilities: We have comfortable barns now, but we know we can make improvements to make them better. Now that we will hopefully be producing milk for a profit we hope to return those profits to new renovations this year. I also hope to post those renovations on this blog.
- Continue to find JOY. How could we not take this goal from 2009 with us?!?!
- Continue to improve cow and calf health. There is always room for improvement here. I look forward to a day when we have facilities that will provide environments for our animals that prevent disease so we don't have to treat disease. Our barns are good but there's always room for more fans, better heating, more feed space, etc.
- Milk more cows. I don't want to milk more cows for more money but because I love all of my cows so much, I can't bear to part with them or their kids. We hope to milk about 110 cows the full year through. That's enough cows for me though, any others will need to be sent to good homes on other dairy farms.
All of these goals and aspirations we look to on a daily basis, helping us make good decisions working towards our goals. Orange Patch Dairy looks at 2009 as a learning experience, and at 2010 as an opportunity to do better. As they say in 4-H " To Make the Best Better"