Before I get to dedication, I would like everyone to know that Yevette is doing much better today! She was up and alert this morning, ready for her bottle. After drinking 2.5 pints of fresh cow's milk, she napped all day! It was so cute! And she's passing manure too! So we are going to keep her on antibiotics for the next few days. We know we are not out of the woods yet, but she's giving us positive signs!
We also started weaning Joey today. Weaning means that we are gradually allowing Joey to eat more dry feed and water instead of being dependent on milk for her food source. We start weaning by providing water in the morning instead of milk, and feed milk only at night for about 5-7 days. We closely monitor how well the calves adjust to water, and when they are ready we transition them to water for both feedings. So far Joey is taking to weaning just fine! She's eating lots of dry feed as well. We switch calves to water at about 45-60 days old. We do this for a couple of reasons: cost, convenience, and the most important reason: dry feed and water help to stimulate and rumen development. Dry grain and water stimulates the papillae in the rumen to grow and develop, therefore growing into a very healthy and efficient stomach to digest forages in the future. Milk is digested in the abomasum, therefore it does not help to develop the rumen. Anything we can do to make healthy future cows!
As for dedication...Dairy farmers are dedicated, more than most consumers would ever know. This week we celebrated our 4th Wedding Anniversary. Most married couples would have went out to for drinks, a romantic dinner, and a stroll by starlight, but not us. Don't get me wrong, we did have plans, plans for dinner and drinks anyways. BUT...the cows had other ideas. We worked hard all day. Even though we could take ALL day off for our anniversary we thought we would take the evening off after milking. We hurried through the tasks for the day and started our chores early in the evening. As hard as we worked to get ahead, the "farm" pushed us back twice as hard. It's frustrating some days, but dairy farmers often learn to deal with it. Dairy farmers' wives have a harder time dealing with it, including me. Even though I understand, it still doesn't change the fact that I am a woman and I like to have my special nights ;)
Nevertheless, we had 2 baby calves born that day. The sprinkler system for the cows was broke and needed to be fixed ASAP. One of the pulsators in the milking parlor was not working, so it needed to be fixed. AND because the weather was so hot and humid we needed to water the cattle and calves multiple times. After all of that it was too late to go on our date. Instead we finished up, headed home after 10pm, had a small supper, and went to bed-romantic huh?
When I was working at the local cooperative I worked with many dairy farmers. Some who had enough cows that they could afford to hire labor to handle the farm so they could go out with their families and wives. Others, who did not have enough cows to afford hiring labor, but still found a way by being flexible. Some dairy farmers have not ever gone on a vacations and others only leave the farm to go to town for parts and Sunday church-and they were proud of this! Dedication. Dedicated to their cows, not because it makes them money, but because they genuinely want the best for their cows. They don't walk away when a cow is calving or sick to be with their families, but tend to their cows first. Vacations take a back seat to making high quality feeds to make healthy cows and quality milk. Often dairy farmers make sacrafices, most of which go unknown to the consumer. So here's to you, Dairy Farmer! For your deidcation, putting your animals first, supporting your family and caring for your farm. You should be in the Webster next to the definition.