Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cleaning Time....

February is supposed to have ice storms, not blizzards & subzero temps!  While Mother Nature is not smiling on us in the weather arena, it has blessed us with 5 happy, healthy HEIFER calves!  That's right, we are 5 for 5 for the year, with moms and babies all doing well.  These subzero temperatures have made it difficult to keep everything clean, but thankfully, a warm-up is underway. 
Every 6 months, we have an inspection of our milking system to ensure that we are keeping our equipment, facilities, and cows in tip-top shape to produce high-quality milk for your table.  This inspection is done by the Health Department, just like the restaurants where you took your significant other out for Valentine's Day.  In order to sell milk that can be used for fluid consumption, you must maintain a Grade A milk permit, and that requires passing these inspections.
While we always work hard to keep everything as clean as possible, this biannual inspection serves as a good reminder to get the "little things" done.  I equate it to cleaning under & on top of the frig & under and behind the stove in your kitchen.  (Come on, really, when was the last time you did that in your kitchen?)
Since it finally warmed up this weekend, it made it possible to attach this project, as it requires getting a lot of stuff (including yourself) wet (there is no good way to mop the ceiling and remain dry), and that doesn't work too well when it's below freezing.  So, we'll spend the next couple of weeks chipping away at the little things. 
Producing high-quality milk for your table & mine is a priority and we are more than willing to have that checked by a third-party, so you can feel more confident in the products you buy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Conveniences of Modern Farming....

While we appreciate the conveniences of modern farming, there are times when they disappoint us.  One of those conveniences is not having to milk cows by hand.  I don't know how they did it "way back when" (Heck, my arms are sore the next day if I have to milk a single quarter on a single cow!)  Tonight was one of those nights when we were reminded why farmers use today's modern conveniences, just like you do in your everyday life.
 I work full-time, and, on a good day, I normally make it home & out to the parlor shortly after 6.  That usually means Brent & his dad are about half done with the night milking.  However, tonight, when I was on my way out of the house, I met Brent on his way in.  We were having electrical "issues", and were in the midst of getting & replacing parts.  So, instead of being done at 7 PM, we were just getting rolling at 6:30.  Thankfully, it was something that we could fix ourselves, and didn't have to wait any longer to get things started.  The cows helped out by being ready and rearin' to come into the parlor, so we still got in at a decent hour.
Here's to all of life's conveniences & everything they offer to our lives - regardless of whether it is milking a cow, or simply things like using a microwave.....which will be required for the leftover supper tonight!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzards have their advantages...

Like most of you, we have been "hunkered down" for the storm that brought over a foot of snow.  Thankfully, the winds haven't been as severe today, so that we've been able to dig out without everything blowing shut again.
Being stuck at home also gave me the opportunity to do something I don't normally do - watch Oprah.  Oprah challenged the employees at Harpo studios to go vegan for a week.  Almost 300 people completed the week challenge.  Obviously, as someone who produces "animal products" for a living, this concerned me.  If you choose not to eat meat, dairy or egg products, so be it, that is your right, and I am not going to argue with you; however, I just want to encourage you to allow every person to make that same decision with the correct information.
What I enjoyed about the show yesterday was that Oprah encouraged everyone to learn more about where their food comes from.  What I did not enjoy was that some of that information was coming from two authors who promote a vegan or reduced animal product diet, not the farmers who raise the food.  Michael Pollan came across as the moderate in the discussion, and as he has worked very hard to encourage people to not support animal agriculture, that was concerning.

Kudos to Cargill for allowing the show into one of their processing plants.  I have been asked several times, "How do you do "it"?, and I thought this was pretty good.  ( Lisa Ling, who did the segment, was a meat eater, and still is.  I spend an entire summer working in a pig processing plant in Missouri, and I can tell you that I am very comfortable that this process is managed & overseen by experts who know what they are doing, and how to do "it" right.

Remember, 98% of all farms are family-owned, and everyone was has been blessed with the ability to work with animals for a living takes that responsibility to put safe, nutritious, affordable food on your table very seriously.  It is why, when the show was over, I layered up - grabbed the pitchfork & spread new straw in the maternity pen to keep the cows as comfortable as I could make them in the blizzard.

View from the maternity pen - the cows didn't seem to mind the snow, they were all outside eating when I got out to bed the pen!

The cows got dug out 1st!  I haven't started on our sidewalk yet...

Speaking of which, it is time to head that way again!