Wednesday, August 26, 2009

56th Princess Kay of the Milky Way Crowned!

I am super excited to write this post, but I will give you a little bit of background before I dive into the "juice" of this post...

MN State Fair 2002: Myself, Princess Kay of the Milky Way Sarah Olson, Karin Norling-fellow finalist.

Me, in the rotating butter carving booth at the Dairy Building(formerly the Empire Commons). Linda Christensen carving my butterhead-she did a great job!

Back in the summer of 2002 I was selected to be a finalist for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way competition in Minnesota. Each year Minnesota county dairy princesses (sometimes over 100 of them) compete to be selected to be one of the 12 lucky girls to run for Princess Kay. As a finalist for Princess Kay, we were honored to have our profile carved in a 90 pound block of butter at the Great Minnesota Get-together...the Minnesota State Fair! My 90 pound butter head was amazing. After storing it for a few months I pulled it out of the freezer and "murdered it" cutting it up and giving it away to those were so important to me and helped me on my journey of life. What a great way to say "Thanks"!

The greatest part about being a finalist for me was not the butterhead (although a great conversation starter) it was the chance to connect with the many thousands of people that pass through the Minnesota State Fair every year! It was the experience of showing youth from the Twin Cities how to milk a cow which continues to drive me to work for dairy promotion. The realization how far removed the average consumer is from where their food comes from drives the passion in me to write this blog, post articles and talk to consumers of all ages. The dairy princess program in Minnesota is a highly developed program, which trains and develops interested girls ages 18-24 to be advocates for dairy farmers-the ultimate honor and the way to give back. The year that I ran for Princess Kay, I was not selected, but instead the honor went to a very professional and poised young woman that deserved that honor....Sarah Olson.

Now for the story of the night....Sarah Olson's youngest sister was running for Princess Kay of the Milky Way tonight. Each year, this night before the start of the State Fair, I always get excited! The memories of that exciting night come back and the pride in the girls that do the hard work for the dairy farmers of this state brings a smile to my face. Sarah's sister Elizabeth was chosen for Princess Kay, making her family proud, (her other sister Lana was also a finalist in 2005) and making Princess Kay History....the first time that 2 sisters from the same family have held the honor of Princess Kay of the Milky Way! As a dairy farmer of Minnesota, I can confidently say that I am proud to have Elizabeth representing me to the consumers of this state! I know she will do an excellent job during her next year!

Congratulations Elizabeth and to her proud family!!!!!

For media coverage of the night see the following:

For more info about Dairy Events at the State Fair....come visit the Moo Booth, Dairy Barn, or the Dairy Building.

Tornado Videos Posted!

I finally got around to editing my tornado videos from our dairy on August 19th, 2009. It was definitely more amazing to watch in person, but the videos give you the idea of how scary the storm was. After taking a nap I was pretty groggy and had no idea we were even in a tornado warning. I was kinda scared at first but once we got to the farm it was powerful to watch. It was insane watching the clouds swirl around. So feel free to check out my's the amazing power of nature.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pics from the County Fair Dairy Show 2009

Kelsey in the Auction ring, she will be using the procedes from local businesses to help pay for her college education.

Bethany was all smiles for the Auction as well, it was a great way to show off Lacey her awesome calf!

Even Val was smiling, for a job well done! Ollie, her cow, is a red and white Holstein cow.

Angela, very focused on the judge....showing her yearling to her very best-good work Terri!

Adam clipping and grooming, final touches for the show.

Chris in the show ring with his yearling.

Such small guy, with a big calf...but a mellow well behaved calf, a good pet even~!

Early morning (some up before 4 am) working on clipping the udder for the judge, so he can see the udder of the cow looking it's very best!

Winter calf class, where all three animals are judged and place. Calves and cows are judged on their style, shape, size, frame, and abillity to produce milk, be productive, and live long healthy lives. Cows with good feet, legs, udders, and frames will live long lives...hence why dairy farmers breed for these traits. Long lives=lots of milk.
4-H offers kids the ability to show animals like this. How great of experience this can be for kids! At least 1/3 of the kids at our fair are leasing their aniamls from local farms. These kids haven't lived on a farm like the others, but lived in town and wanted to learn more about dairy cattle. 4-H showing teaches youth how to care for animals properly, animal welfare, responsibility, work ethic, and other great traits. I was in 4-H for 10 years, 10 great years and now I give back to an organization that gave me so much!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tornado Warning

I was hoping to sit down tonight and post some pictures on this blog about the fair last week, but instead those plans got railroaded! Tonight at about 6:15pm we had a tornado warning issued for this county. It was a scary time, funnels were in the sky, rotating and twisting. I have some awesome video of this, but I left my camera at the farm in the fury of the storm. We received some much needed rain with this storm-over 3 inches!!!-it's a God send! And we are happy to report that no serious damage occurred thanks to this storm. Apparently we are scheduled to see some more storms tomorrow, and for the first time since this spring I can report that we have MUD in the cattle yards! I am not going to complain about it though, since we needed this precious rain so much! It's nice to see green grass again, as well as the hay field, which we cut and chopped yesterday already greening back up for a 5th cutting of hay in 4 weeks. So please bear with me, I should be able to post some pictures tomorrow---as long as we don't have another scary storm!

Also, just to let you know...cow number 73 has made a full recovery!!!! She has increased her daily milk production, almost back to the level she was before the mastitis....and she is doing very well physically!!! We are still dumping her milk down the drain, since she is still on antibiotics, and we will continue to dump the milk until the residues clear her system. We now know how she got toxic mastitis...and I will talk about that in another post, as it is a long story.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sleep needed!

Just thought I would let you know I am still alive, just that sleep is needed. After surviving the county fair with about 5 hours of sleep a night, we moved right into 4th cutting of alfalfa hay. Yesterday (Monday) we started cutting our 100 acres of hay, and today we finished cutting and chopped it all. 100 acres of 4th cutting hay should have filled at least 7/8 of a silage bag, but since we have been SO DRY it only filled about 1/3 of a bag. This means we will have to make more corn silage for the cows in order to have enough feed to feed the cows this winter. Corn silage will be starting in a few short weeks, so we will have to do some planning before then. Our alfalfa was beautiful, but so we hope for rain for a better 5th cutting of alfalfa in September. I will add more info from the fair hopefully tomorrow ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Congratulations Marcus!

While we were milking tonight, we got amazing news from the county tonight's grandstand event the demolition derby, my brother in law Marcus won 2nd place in the truck derby! Way to go TEAM SEIFERT!!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just a brief...

Just a brief:

Cow 73 is doing so much better! She's eating and chewing her cud, while she is still receiving antibiotics for her mastitis and her milk is not being used for sale, but instead it's dumped....she's getting better everyday!

The fair animals are getting their finishing touches...tomorrow they move to the fair grounds for the next 5 days. Straw. hay, and feed are all loaded into the trailer. Show boxes and extra clothes are in the truck. It should be a great fair!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is God Against Us??

Well, I don't really believe that God is against us, but it seems like this was yet another Sunday where the cows decided to interrupt our day of rest...

Jon and I successfully finished chores this morning just in time to make 11am mass-yep-we're Catholic ;) After mass we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and then home for a long over due nap. After a nap we hung out at home (first Sunday in months) to watch a movie together, when we got the call....cow down, can't get up. This was the 3rd Sunday in a row that something happened on the farm where we had to cut out "day of rest" short. Jonathan muttered under his breath "God must be against us". While he didn't believe that and I didn't believe that, some days it's hard not to think it. Sunday is suppose to be a day of rest, how could God let these cows get into trouble. So we ended our movie and headed out the farm.

We found cow number 73 in the sick cow pen laid out on her side and moaning. After a quick inspection we decided that 73 had come down with toxic mastitis otherwise known as e-coli. A little info about's environmental mastitis (infection of the udder) and when it infects an udder it produces a toxic poison in the cow's body which can kill if not treated properly. E-coli is everywhere in the environments of cows...pastures, stalls, alleys, etc. The goal of a dairy farmer is to keep cows as clean as possible to prevent e-coli to infect cows. Cleanliness IS next to Godliness! In the case of 73 we are pretty confident that she laid her uddering into a cow pie (manure). As clean as we keep our cows, we can't stop them from laying in manure. Cows in pack barns like ours and on pasture often lay in manure-it happens, we can't stop them. Cows in tie stalls or free stalls often lay in such a way that they don't lay in there is an advantage to having stalls. Back to 73....

Turns out 73 just rolled over on her side and couldn't get back up. She received a series of IV fluids...2 bottles of calcium for muscle function, 1 bottle of dextrose (sugar) for energy, 2 bottles of saline (water) to rehydrate her, some meds from her fever, and antibiotics for the infection. Without the antibiotics 73 would die....they work to help fight the toxins in her body. After her treatment 73 drank a lot of water--a great sign, and stood up on her own! We were so thrilled!!! She looked so much better by the end of the night, even though she was still sick she was definitely showing signs of improvement! Tomorrow she will get another treatment for mastitis in her udder, and any other fluids she might need to help her feel better-we continue to hope for a full recovery.

In other news, the farm is buzz with preparations for the county fair this week! I am in charge of the dairy show, but my brothers and sister in law all participate in various 4-H and FFA events at the county fair. There are animals getting trained, washed, and clipped. The cattle trailer is getting backed with supplies for the fair, and final touches are being done to 4-H projects. And I don't want to forget my other brother in law Marcus who has been working on finishing up his demolition derby car and truck for this week's grandstand events. I may not be able to blog this week as I will be busy at the fair grounds for the next 5 days, but rest assure I will do a full recap of the week's events!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Value of Bio security....

Tis County Fair Season in our parts...Southern MN that is. I am the current County Dairy Superintendent for the 4-H, FFA, and Open Class Dairy Shows. In my role, I am responsible for working with youth and parents to make sure we run a fun, successful show, but still safe. When you visit your local county fairs you see the animals, you see the kids and their families working on their animals, caring for them, but there is a LOT of work behind the scenes that is done to make sure that you are safe to visit the animals and we as farmers are safe to bring our animals.

BIO SECURITY....our work to make sure that animals and people are safe from any hazardous organisms. Did you know that each exhibitor at the fair has to pass an on site inspection by a licenced veterinarian? Yep, that's right! Any animals that might have any contagious disease are sent home immediately...for the safety of the other exhibitors. These families and kids put months and years of work into developing their show we take their health very seriously. We would hate to make animals at the neighbor's farm sick and we would hate to bring home something from the fair and make the rest of our cows sick. Cleanliness is next to Godliness....that's right, we wash our trailers, wash our feed pans and drinking cups...everything to make sure the cows and calves are well taken care of.

Have you been asked to clean your hands BEFORE and AFTER petting an animal at the fair? There is a reason for that...just like we don't want you to get a "germ" from the cow, we also don't want you to give our cows "germs". Example: This spring we did a day care tour, and one of the kids that petted my calf did not wash their hands well. As a result my calf contracted a bacteria with gave it diarrhea. We treated her and she was fine, but if we had not exposed her to the kids she would have never gotten sick. So please remember to wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER petting animals at the's for your safety as well as theirs.

On the farm, owners and managers often post signs at the front of the farm stating "No One Admitted Past this Point, This is a Bio secure Area". These signs are to warn visitors that they must check in at the office and not go wandering around the farm. Our vets often "wash in" and "wash out". They scrub their boots before treating cows as well as washing before they leave. We use sterile equipment to prevent infection. We sanitize milking equipment to keep our product safe....when it's all said and done on a dairy farm, we are all about BIO SECURITY-for ours and ours :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Letter to Elected Officials....please don't tell us how to farm!

This letter was to me by the Dairy Business Association. I agree that Government Officials need to gain producer input before telling them 'How to Farm'. Please read and share with others.

Dear Elected Official,

My name is Laura Daniels, I am a dairy farmer from Cobb, Wisconsin. My family has been farming for just under 4 years, we love this business and savor the chance to raise our children on a farm the way we were raised. We rotationally graze our jersey cows while implementing the very latest science has to offer. We believe that the diversity of farms in Wisconsin is our greatest strength, we seek to learn from them all, big, small, young, old, etc. We take pride in the way we care for our cattle, land and employees with gentleness. I am writing to you today to let you know about some concerns I have about the future of our family dairy farm. I am not writing to complain about the price, or to beg you to do something to help us make it through this financial crisis.

I would imagine you are hearing a lot about that these days. However, I am worried about special interest groups telling me or any other farmer how to farm. We really do have enough to worry about these days, we do not need a kick while we are down.I have just returned from the national meeting of the American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, known as AFACT. I had the chance to talk to farmers from across the country I am alarmed that farmers from California have had their businesses changed so drastically by Prop 2, and now there is legislation to regulate whether or not the farmers dock the tails of their cows. Even more frightening is the fact that farmers in Ohio have no choice but to negotiate with the Humane Society of the United States! HSUS is threatening the Ohio farmers that if they don’t do what they demand they will bring prop 2 to Ohio.

I ask that you please do the research on HSUS and know that they seek the end of animal agriculture, only a tiny portion of their funding goes to help cats and dogs in shelters, much of their budget is aimed to put me and every other farmer out of business. Since they are so well funded they can win at ballot initiatives, and it is exactly the exposure they need to generate even more funds. HSUS has set up an office here in Wisconsin and has registered a lobbyist at the capital of our dairy state. I do not believe for one second that their agenda here will be limited to dog fighting.

Please please talk to farmers if agriculture comes up in any discussions. We can help you understand the extreme measures we are taking to care for each and every one of our animals. We can and do make the right choices for their care. We need you to understand and trust that we are the ones who should be making changes to do an even better job as time goes on. We do not need regulation in this area, we are honest and hard working people. Wisconsin dairy farmers have made more advancements in animal care over the last decade than the 50 years before that. We did this with no government intervention, no mandates and no standards set by others. Please let the people who know the cattle/livestock best make the decisions for their care.

Thank you for your time and please let me know if I can help in any way.

Laura Daniels
Heartwood Farm
Cobb, WI

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bummer :(

We received some much needed rain again last night. While it was not the inches of rain that we were hoping for it was the tenths of rain that we needed to make the crop green again and help them last until the next rain shower. After the joy of that we were greeted with a little sadness this morning.

After checking the heifer pens for heifers in heat (ready to breed to become pregnant and calve) and the dry cows for new baby calves, I noticed something odd. There was a heifer laying awkwardly next to the hay bunk. I rushed over to see what was wrong, and my heart just sank! It's was one of our favorite heifers Nitty Gritty, who we moved into this pen a couple days ago. She was dead :( I cried. It's what I do. We have 100 cows, 100 heifers, and I know everyone by name, coloring, and personality. I can name each of their mothers, grandmothers and daughter. I take it very personally when one leaves us....especially like this. Overnight, Nitty Gritty had put her head through a corner in the hay bunk, got it stuck and couldn't get out. Since it happened at night no one saw her or heard her-and after fighting for awhile, she suffocated and died. It's making me cry now just thinking about it. Accidents happen in life with humans and on farms with animals, but every time it happens it's still hard to swallow. Nitty Gritty was 5 month pregnant with her first calf and would have joined our herd this winter. We lost her mother a year ago. Her mother was an awesome cow, so we had high hopes from Nitty Gritty. What consumers don't know is that every time this happens on a dairy farm-the farmer, the employees, anyone involved with that animal's life, is hurting. If it was possible, most dairymen would love to see their cows live long lives, well into their 20's, but cows are not built to live much over 10 years old. We raise them from babies into adulthood-it's hard to let go. So today we laid Nitty gritty to rest, to join her mother in heaven with the other cows on green pastures and open free stall barns....God Bless her and take good care of her, we will miss her dearly!