In a previous post I commented on some of the changes that we were making on the farm. One of the first changes was hiring our first employees. For the first couple weeks, things went really well. Jon and I both reaped the advantages of having extra help on the farm, but not too long after that we started to have some problems with one of our employees.
Dairy farming is a 24-7 job. Cows are always producing milk, and need constant attention. Cows crave consistency. Cows do not like changes. Cows expect to be milked everyday, twice a day. One of our employees missed that point. This employee decided that it would be okay if he didn't come to work, not once, not twice, but three different times in the past weeks. When you depend on someone to be there, and they don't show up, it's a huge let down. But on a dairy farm it has long lasting implications...this week was proof of this. Not only was Monday a complete disaster (we basically got cows milked, fed and bedded, but that was it, no extra projects for us), but we also had a mismatched schedule for the rest of the week. For example, today, I dried off cows that should have been dried off on Monday.
It's been easy for us to teach the importance of being dependable, responsible, and consistent to our other employee, but for the other, it was more than a challenge. We knew we would be at risk for employees that just might not care as much as we do about our cows, but we didn't think we would face it so soon.
We love our cows, and we expect our employee to care for them as well. In fact, we also expect them to get to know them by their names and personalities. We have a book/manual about cow behavior, we ask them to read. We also expect our employees to understand how much not only us, but our cows, depend on them to show up to work on time and do a good job. Without good employees we would not be able to provide our cows the care that they deserve. Needless to say, our truant employee put in his notice yesterday, before we could formally let him go. Our lesson was learned, and we will continue to work harder to teach our employees the importance of their roles in food production and cow care!