Monday, February 28, 2011

I am not a Fraud, I care about my cows & that's the TRUTH!

This past weekend I was shocked to be called a "fruad" on my YouTube channel.  I have been called  a liar and an abuser, but this was the first time that someone had called me a fraud.  Apparently this gentleman thought that I and other dairy farmers misrepresent themselves as people who care for their cows, but instead abuse them.  Oh brother!  If that man only knew how much I care for those cows!  If I could I would have invited him to spend JUST ONE DAY with me on my farm this winter, I would have.  This winter has been particularly trying for us, spending many 12+ hour days working, but everyday we stay committed to my cows, Friday was another example of that...

On Friday we were having one of those days.  It seemed like nothing was going our way.  Milking took longer than it should have.  Jon worked all morning with fresh cows only to find 2 of our girls were feeling severely under the weather.  Some days it doesn't matter how hard and long we work, there are just some cows we can't stop from getting sick.  We needed the veterinarian, so we called in.  Later we learned that both of our cows, Adrian and Dominique, needed surgery, however while Adrian's prognosis was very positive, Dominique's prognosis was less that positive.  Dominique is a 3 year old cow in our herd, who delivered her second calf over a month ago.  She was showing signs of the "flu" a day earlier, and we treated her with probiotics and vitamins, but we were wrong.  Dominique had managed to twist her stomachs in what we call a RDA (right sided displaced abomasum).  She was going to need surgery to fix her stomachs, but because she has been sick for more than a day and had a really low temperature, the veterinarian could not guarantee success.  In fact he asked Jon if we wanted to do the surgery for sure or save the money and euthanize her; she had a 50/50 chance of making it.  We couldn't euthanized her, there was still a chance she could defeat the odds and prove the veterinarian wrong.  We went with chance.  The surgery was a success.  Dominique was slow to recover, but we followed the recommendations of our vet Dr. Smith.  Post surgery, she received fluids, extra vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber and of course LOTS of REST.  She also received antibiotics for her incisions.  We spent Saturday night until midnight with Dominique, giving her much needed TLC.  It paid off.  Today I can confidently say she is on her way to a full recovery.  If we didn't care, we would have euthanized her on Friday and saved our money, but we believe each of our cows deserve our very best EVERY day. 

How many activist understand that?  Instead farmers get tagged as abusers, believers in slavery, liars and frauds.  There's nothing dishonest about a single thing I do everyday for my cows.  We often put their needs above our own.  In know that everyone of the dairy farmers that I have met, whether they have 30 or 3000 cows, cares just as much as I do for our cows.  Go ahead and accuse us of anything you want, but DON'T accuse us of fraudHow much we care for our cows is a FACT, there are no lies about thatTo the gentleman that made this accusation, thank youYou have added to my motivation to work harder to spread the truth about animal agriculture, specifically dairy farming.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Winter Pictures Added

Our cow YoYo, caring for her newborn bull in the sun, on a brisk February afternoon.

Bambi: basking in the warm sun shine in our calf barn, she sure loves her "spot" here!
New Pictures added to our Facebook Album...check out more views of winter on our dairy farm!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter's Slap in the Face

Oh Old Man Winter decided he wasn't done yet with us hard working dairy farmers in Minnesota.  Last week we were spoiled with warm sunshine and 40+ degree afternoons.  In those days, we felt as though a weight was lifted from our shoulders (physically-we were wearing a few less layers!)  We were able to finish daily chores quickly and we were actually able to work on a number of "projects" around the farm!  It was great to actually be accomplishing something!

But these past couple days Old Man Winter slapped spring back a few more weeks!  Yesterday we were in a Blizzard Warning, bracing for 12+ inches of snow with 25+ mph winds.  It was a snowy day, but we had a break in the snowfall at the perfect time to blow out and push out enough snow to feed, milk and bed our cows.  Today was a little more unforgiving....

We had a moderate/heavy snowfall through the morning and into the afternoon.  I believe that our storm total was 14 inches of snow, but it's hard to tell since most of our snow is still moving yet....yep, those Southern Minnesota winds are still pushing our snow around like sand in the desert.  It looks pretty, until you have to work in it.  I believe Jon and I worked an additional 4 hours each today, just moving snow!  I shoveled out my calf huts twice to feed my little girls, and then again tonight after the snowfall stopped to bed them in.  Jon used the snow blower to find our corn silage and haylage bags.  He also had to blow out the snow in the farm yard, to make sure the and the milk truck and tractors didn't get stuck.  Finally, he blew out the snow in the heifer and dry cow yards.  With this much snow we had mountains of snow for the animals to trudge through on their way to the feed bunks, before Jon moved it.  The disheartening part was that within hours of removing the snow, more of it was ready to take its place!  At least tonight, even though the snow is moving (slower now) the snowfall has digging out tomorrow will actually last hopefully until spring, or at least for a few days!  So....we continue the fight against Old Man Winter....spring will be here before we know it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why we LOVE video!

Please check out our latest video..."Why we LOVE Dairy".  It's a short video feature only a small sampling of the things we love about the role we have in feeding the world.  It features pictures from spring/summer 2010, which I couldn't help but enjoy being we are enjoying much above normal temps (50's) here at the check it out!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dairy Farming & Marriage, a Tough Mix

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I am certain that couples everywhere will be enjoying the fruits of their thoughtful labors: flowers, candies, dinners, dates, and romance.  However, Jon and I will be spending our day in a completely different fashion....farming.  Since we married, I don't know if I can ever recall a Valentine's Day that we have ever spent together on a formal date.  I am not complaining, believe me, we never had luck on Valentines Day.  One year, in college, Jon thought he would surprise me with a special visit to South Dakota, but when he arrived he found me sick and in bed with the flu.  He spent the evening helping me rest instead of the date he had planned.  Nevertheless this Valentines Day I was thinking about dairy farming and marriage, and how they effect the relationship between a husband and a wife.  After much thought, I believe that dairy farming is a great place to teach couples about themselves and their relationship. 
6 years ago we started farming together, and a few months later we were married.  During that time I held a full time job as a dairy nutritionist and farmed with Jon part time.  Then, 2 years ago when I quit to farm full time.  When we decided to move me to full time farmer many of our friends and family thought we were crazy.  We are both stubborn leaders, with equal amounts of passion for what we was a recipe for fights and arguments.  I assured everyone we knew what we were getting into....and I was right!
I married my best friend, who I have known since childhood.  I have been blessed to be able to farm beside him as an equal partner.  Dairy farming is VERY stressful on a marriage relationship.  There have been times along the way where dairying has challenged the strength of our bond and determination.  Whether is was the cow calving just as we were leaving for a date or the tractor breaking down just as we were finishing for the day.  There are many stressful moments in farming.   The financial stress of farming is another challenge.  These past 6 years have been a financial struggle to say the least.  No matter what we faced though, and no matter how scared we were, we have made it through.  There have been fights and disagreements, but I would never in a heart beat trade off the chance to work with Jon everyday. 
When I was working full time, I was constantly wondering what Jon was doing or if he remembered to do a task I had left for him that day.   Often I would come home and ask him how his day went and I would get the "fine" response.  Oh, how angry I would get with that!  I knew he did more than  "fine" that day, but he never told me.  Now, I have the opportunity to be there for his daily challenges, and that is so rewarding for us.  We are a team, each bringing to the table a different set of skills and traits that make us good at what we do.  I love the fact that we can milk cows in the morning together, split to do other chores and jobs on the farm for the afternoon, and return in the evening  to milk together again.  It's very rewarding to share those times together and spent that time apart.  We laugh together all of the time.  If it wasn't for laughter I don't know how we would get through the tough times. 
So for this Valentine's Day, just like others, I am thankful to be married to my best friend, who I know will be there as a teammate in life and on the farm, through sickness and health, good times and bad...always be my side.  How bless I am!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Physical Therapy for Cows

Well, we made it through the nasty Minnesota winter without a downer cow...until now!  2 days ago my lovely cow Whinny (named by my sister in law almost 5 years ago) slipped on the icy and frozen surface of our holding area on the way into our milking parlor.  Normally she would have caught a grip on the grooved floor and continued walking into the parlor, but unfortunately there was a bossy cow behind her, which gave her a much unneeded shove.  She fell down.  Most cows would quickly and swiftly get up, but Whinny had injured herself, and she couldn't get up.  We believe that she has a over extended joint in her hip.   Knowing this, we worked quickly to get her lifted up and standing again.  We also gave her some medication for inflammation.  The longer a cow is down the higher the risk of further injuries. 
Whinny stood, we milked her in the parlor as she stood by herself, but there was no way we were going to try to get her out of the parlor with the others, she was too shaky and unsafe.  We lifted her out the bedded pack, where she rested comfortably with "room service"....feed and water delivered right to her.  We let her roam around her pen during the afternoon, as she saw fit.  She seemed to be doing so well, she even made it to the feed lane, on the concrete floor, this morning to get her own feed, but tonight we found her in the alley.  She fell again.  She was so shaky and scared.  We lifted her once again.  She stood, collected herself, and she was back to running around in her pack pen.  Turns out she can't walk on concrete well, but she can run very swiftly on the pack.  Knowing this we have decided to continue to work with her on the pack until we know for certain she can handle the concrete, and for now she has no access to the concrete feed lane....we'll just keep bringing her room service instead.  We are very hopeful Whinny will make a full recovery with a little TLC and Physical Therapy for Cows!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Animal Activisits are an Important Part of our Future

Below was a comment recently posted on one of my previous blogs, and it really made me think about animal agriculture and how our relationships with consumers have evolved in the past few years thanks to HSUS and PETA.....check out the comment:

"I've been reading through this blog (is this called a thread?) with interest, and glad to see that after some initial emotional arguments, an intelligent exchanging of views was achieved - we don't all have to agree with each other, but we do need to stop branding every person the same way - not all dairy farmers are cruel, not all animal activists are raving vegan extremists. Good to have respect for someone elses point of view....

....I could go on and on, but in the end, I am not a vegetarian, well not full time anyway, I have my moments, but I do stand strongly for the ethical treatment of animals, and I do believe that animal activists are an important part of our future, as they help to keep improving our systems and educating the public, and work with us as producers to make the world a happier place for animals. All I would ask of animal activists is that they do actually do their homework before launching personal attacks on people - I think the wider population would actually take them more seriously if this was the case."

This reader really hit home on those 2 points...thanks to animal activists we have worked to make our farms and ranches better and we have a total industry of agriculture, really begun to educate consumers about where their food comes from.  I know on our own farm we work hard to give the best care to our animals, but I will admit there are probably places for improvement that an activist might be able to see, that we might miss.  In addition, I might not have this blog if it wasn't for activists who make consumers acknowledge that they really don't know where their food comes from anymore.  Thanks to activists I have the honor and privilege to share with consumers and readers alike about the daily happenings on our farm, and that's awesome!  So thank you animal activists for allowing me to have this great blog!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Guidelines encourage 3 servings of Dairy each day!

This week the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). As a dairy producer I have been following this issue closely.  We produce a safe and wholesome product full of vital nutrients for consumers.  Milk has calcium for bones, protein for muscles, Vitamins A & D, as well as magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.  We have always encouraged consumers to enjoy 3 daily servings of dairy and it turns out we were right on track!

Unfortunately Americans coming up short on their calcium consumption.  Currently, Americans are consuming about two dairy servings per day on average. Adding just one more serving of dairy each day can fill some of America’s major nutrient gaps. Very few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way. 
  • Have you tried a delicious chocolate milk after a hard workout?  Protein and calcium contained in milk help contribute to weight loss, while increasing lean muscle mass. 
  • Try a drinkable yogurt for breakfast for a boost of dairy combined with probiotics for digestive health.
  • How about a low fat mozzarella cheese stick for a quick but filling snack for mid-day?
  • Just an 8 ounce glass of milk with your supper can help fill your 3rd serving each day!
  • New changes in dairy products offer even more healthy options!
    • Cheeses with lower sodium and fat levels.
    • Flavored milk with less added sugar -- that can help Americans meet the 2010 DGA recommendations without compromising on taste!
· Curious for more information?  Check out the National Dairy Council's website for more information on the health benefits of dairy. 

Through NDC, dairy farmers have supported child nutrition research, education and communication in their communities and schools for nearly a century.  Dairy has been committed to children’s health for years.  In 2009 we launched a joint effort with the National Football League, called Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) , that aims to help improve children’s health by bringing healthy eating education and physical activities to more than 70,000 schools.  FUTP60 promotes good nutrition – including low-fat and fat-free dairy – and physical fitness in our nation’s schools to help defeat childhood obesity by allowing students to take the lead in choosing the changes they want to make, including access to healthier food and getting active with physical activity every day.  First Lady Michelle Obama has also signed on with this exciting program!

Looking for more information, please see the links below!


 Links to feature:
· Dairy Industry Joint Statement
· Federal Government DGA Info
· “New U.S. Diet Guidelines Urge Less Salt, More Dairy”

We encourage you to follow the new National Dairy Council (NDC) Twitter (!/NtlDairyCouncil/following) and Facebook (!/nationaldairycouncil ) properties and share the latest news on dairy nutrients with your followers. You can also: