Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Small Farms vs. Large Farms~Labor & Family Time

Often times I hear people talking about small farms vs. large farms, or family farms vs. corporate farms. I think it is funny that people think that there is a distinction between the two.  In fact 99% of all farms are family owned.  In the dairy indsutry a small farm is categorized as any farm with "less than 300 milking cows".  Imagine that!  Everyone of the farms in our county is a "small farm", but I would bet that if you drive by our farm or others you might think to yourselves that we operate a "large farm".  I also find it interesting that large farms are thought of as having poor management, unhealthy animals and bad milk, but I know so MANY large farms with a high standard of excellence.  But I should get back to my main point.....labor issues and family time on a "small farm".

Jonathan and I operate a "family farm" that is "small", and ALL of our labor is family labor.  We currently have no employees, but hire neighbors to help us on the weekends when they don't have to go to work, when we have a wedding or want some time off.  This puts us in a tight spot when something happens during the week, which was what I was thinking about tonight as I hosed down the milking parlor.  I wished that we had an employee or 2 tonight.  This past Saturday, Jon's grandfather from Southeast Minnesota passed away, and the funeral was planned for Tuesday.  We would have both liked to attend the funeral, but since we are the ONLY employees at our farm and those cows need to be fed and milked each day, I volunteered to stay home and "man the fort".  I am in charge of milking for tonight and tomorrow morning as well as heifer chores and feeding calves.  I am comfortable with working solo, but it's nice to have Jon around to help.  We have an awesome neighbor that is coming over to feed the cows for me~I am not a big fan of mixing TMR in the mud.  If we had a larger farm we would have employee that would be trained and dependable.  They would have been able to fill in for me in my absence.  Other times during the year, we would be able to have time off for other family events as well.  Often times, families decide to milk more cows so they can afford to hire employees or in some case install robots to milk their cows.  But in either instance, its about making sure that the care of the cows comes first, so the care of the family can be increased. 

I can honestly say that I am looking forward to have an employee or 2....making them part of our "dairy farming family".


  1. Thanks for the favorable comments on large farms. We are classified as a CAFO - or what some people call a factory farm. Our farm has been in our family over 100 years. Three of my four sons help us. We consider our employees our family. By no means is this a business per say - this is our life and we work hard at making a living. We enjoy your blog and thanks again for the good comments.

  2. Random Ramblings:
    I know that compared to my father's farm, we are almost 3X's as large. I also know that some day we would like to grow to a size to include potential children. Dairy farming has to be done by families...even if our "families" are extended to our employees. Each partner is critical to the success of the dairy! I also enjoy your blog!

  3. 用行動來支持你~~~不留言不行!.........................


I write this blog to share my passion for my cows and farming, please be respectful of that. I reserve the right to delete those comments which portray hate, call names, and are out right disrespectful. If you have an honest question, I will respond, to explain what we do on our farm, why we do it and how we do it. Please read with an open mind. My time to blog is short, as most of our days are spent caring for our beloved cows. Thank you!