A Wild Morning

Most of my mornings can be summed up with the words “coffee” and “cow pies”, but this morning was something else.  A wild morning, if you will. While some days can be tough, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


Here is a little glimpse into my life as a farm chick:

5:15- Alarm goes off, I immediately hit snooze. Pretty typical.  I never use to be a snooze button person; I blame my husband for this habit.

5:23-Alarm goes off, I actually get out of bed.

5:24-Walk like a zombie to the coffee. Drink it.

5:27-Open the fridge and find nothing to eat, damn.

5:28-Open the pantry and find nothing to eat, damn.

5:29: Decide I will just drink coffee for breakfast and eat double at lunch. I like lunch food better anyway.

5:30-Try and tame my hair that is a wild mess from going to sleep with a wet head.

5:40-Decide it’s pointless and just get dressed. #Can’tTameThisMane

6:00-Arrive at the farm and am greeted by my dog who is only being cute because he is hungry and wants to be fed.

6:05-Discover that we have a cow that fell down while giving birth and cannot get back up. I jump in the skidsteer and help my husband maneuver the cow into the bucket of the skidsteer. We move her onto a patch of grass and give her plenty of fluids, feed and TLC. We hope she will get up on her own soon.

  
6:20- I bring fresh feed to the hospital barn and make my husband shovel it all into the manger.

6:30- Head out to the calf hutches to paste the three newest calves. They had just eaten breakfast, so they didn’t squirm much. It was an easy job today. You can read more about how and why we dehorn calves here.

6:40- Walk to the back row of hutches to help my mother-in-law finish bedding calves. Realize I lucked out because she only has four left. Yahtzee.

7:00- Move a newborn bull calf out of the calving pen and into a pen of his own.  He is a big son of a gun, but its nothing these pipes of mine can’t handle.

7:10- Make the list of cows that will recieve rBST today. Yup, we use rBST. You can read more about that here.

7:17- Grab the list of cows that need to be dried up today and track down my husband.

7:20-Find my husband. He is drenching a fresh cow (cow that recently gave birth) with fluids and isn’t ready to sort cows yet, so I begin turning on all the fans in the barn.  Feels like its going to be a hot one today.

7:25-Notice I am being followed by a heifer in heat. I try to lose her, but she’s too quick. She licks my pants while I’m turning on fans and rips a bigger hole in my jeans. I take out my phone and snapchat this ordeal to my friends.

  
7:30-My husband and I sort out the cows that need to dried off and take them to the milking parlor.

7:46-Realize the cows we just sorted are running around outside because someone left the gate open. Are you kidding me?!

7:47- I start running after the cows with my husband, in-laws and other employees.

…30 seconds later….

Stop running and just begin walking really fast because I am out of shape and don’t run.

8:10-Finally get all the cows wrangled and back into the barn.

8:17-Get a little mad at my husband for something stupid.

8:18-I get over it because my husband is a cool dude and life is too short to stay mad.

8:20-We vaccinate and milk the dry cows one last time before sending them on “maternity leave” at the farm down the road. We will bring them back in 50-60 days when they are ready to calve.  What to know what to expect when your cow is expecting? Read this old post.

8:40- I throw on a little Miranda Lambert to calm my nerves and make a list of cows that will need to have their hooves trimmed tomorrow.

9:00-Help my husband sort a cow that needs to be bred.

9:10-Stroll on over to the calf hutches to vaccinate calves.

9:15-Get calf crap on my freshly washed jeans. Aaaargh!

  
9:30-Check on the down cow. She drank all her water and ate all her feed so I give her some more. This is a good sign and I’m feeling hopeful that she will be on her feet soon.

9:40- Enter my calf vaccinations into the computer and begin gagging because the calf crap on my pants is engulfing our small office with a rancid smell.

9:50-Realize I’m hungry ( which seems odd due to the gawd-awful smell radiating off of my jeans) I hope my hunger doesn’t turn into hanger (hunger+anger).

10:00 Call my sister to tell her how crazy this morning has been.

10:10- Do a walk through and see what is going on. Notice things seem to be slowing down. Cows seem happy, calving pens are clean, cows are being milked, dogs are basking in the sun. 

Life is good.

The rest of my day was a little less crazy, but still fairly interesting.  That’s a story for another day.

 How was your day?  Do you prefer the slow days or the busy days?  If you are anything like me you long for the busy days when you are bored and wish it was a slow day when you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

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10 Ways to Celebrate Dairy Month

“It is the most wonderful time of the year!”. June is Dairy month, do you know what that means? Time to celebrate cows, farmers, cheese and ALL things dairy related!  There are so many great ways to celebrate this month; here are a few! Most of these activities are kid-friendly; if you are looking for an adult version, just add booze.

  1. Host a game night featuring Dairy TriviaHere and here are some trivia questions.
  2. Visit a local dairy farm. If you live in a rural area or know a dairy farmer, pay them a visit!  I am sure they would love to show you around their farm and introduce you to a few cows. Be careful, they might put you to work! ūüėČ

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3. Make fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. Here is a list of fun recipes.
4. Throw a Wine & Cheese PartyFollow the link for some great tips.
5. Attend a Dairy Breakfast on the Farm. Depending on where you are, you might have the opportunity to attend a dairy breakfast!  They are so much fun and great way to meet dairy farmers and their cows. Here is a list of Wisconsin dairy events going on this summer and here is a list of dairy events happening in the Midwest!

Photo by Cadillac News

Photo by Cadillac News

  1. Go out for ice cream or have an ice cream sundae bar at home.
  2. Try this yogurt smoothie recipe for breakfast or a snack.

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8. Go for a run or walk and then refuel with some chocolate milk.
9. Build your own pizza for dinner; Don’t forget the cheese!
10.Have a milk mustache contest and take silly pictures.

milkmoustacheThis oughta keep you busy, but if you are looking for even more activities, visit these pages:
National Agriculture in the Classroom
Dairy Doing More
Fuel Up to Play60

HAPPY JUNE DAIRY MONTH!

#Milk Truth

Has your newsfeed been filled with #milktruth posts?¬† Maybe you have seen¬†something in the newspaper or on television. For some reason, milk has been under attack. Critics are saying don‚Äôt drink milk ‚Äď it‚Äôs unneeded, unnatural, and bad for you. That couldn‚Äôt be further from the truth. Dairy farmers and milk supporters everywhere are setting the record straight and sharing the truth about milk. Dairy farmers work hard, day and night, caring for their animals to make sure that a safe, nutritious product is delivered to your table. Get to know your farmers and ask them any questions you might have. Not everything you read about milk is true. Decades of nutrition research show how valuable milk is ‚Äď so don‚Äôt let skeptics lead you astray. Learn the truth about milk; visit the Milk Truth page and join the movement!

Wegnerlann Holsteins-3

MILK IS REAL, WHOLESOME AND LOCAL
Milk is one of the original local, farm-to-table foods. It’s a product from farm families that care about their cows.

 

What Do Dairy Farmers Do On Holidays?

There are no days off on the farm.¬† Cows don’t care if it is Christmas and that you have eggnog to drink; they still need to be fed, milked and cared for.¬† It may be business as usual at the farm, but we still make time to celebrate with family and friends.¬† The whole crew works together to get chores done and we all find time to eat, drink and be merry.¬† Each year is different, but here is how Christmas went down at the farm this year.

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Christmas Eve morning started with all hands on deck.  My father-in-law fed the cows as usual, my mother-in-law and her helper fed calves, and my husband and I cared for the hospital cows,  newborn calves and their mothers.  Meanwhile, other employees worked in shifts to get the cows milked and pens cleaned.

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Morning chores were soon complete and things settled down.¬† Slowly, but surely, everyone was able to take a break and prepare for Christmas celebrations.¬† My husband and I left around noon and headed to my mother’s house a couple of hours north.¬† The farm would be in the good hands of my in-laws and a few others while we were away.

Every year my mom throws a big Christmas party for nearby friends, family and neighbors.  My sisters and I do our best to help her plan and prepare.  This year we presented a pasta bar to our guests!  Using recipes from the Pioneer Woman, we offered a variety of noodles and three different sauces: Marinara with Beef, Vodka Sauce with Chicken and Alfredo Sauce with veggies.  Oh, and of course plenty of cheese!  Brushetta, garlic-cheesy bread and other yummy appetizers were also on the menu.

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While the food is always delish, what our guests really come for is the holiday cheer.  And by cheer I mean booze.  We usually whoop it up pretty good at the Christmas party.

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Christmas morning quickly came, presents were opened and my husband and I trucked on back to the farm.  Morning chores were taken care of by the time we arrived home, but there were pens to clean and new calves to care for, as well as evening chores.

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  My mother in-law and I fed the baby calves a Christmas dinner of warm milk!

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By evening, my husband and I were cleaned up and ready for a cup of cheer!¬† Around these parts, the Christmas beverage of choice is a Tom & Jerry.¬†It seems as though many folks¬†are not familiar with this drink and that the mix cannot be found everywhere, but if you ever see it…BUY IT!¬† The directions are right on the container and they are easy to make.¬† Can’t find the mix? Make your own!¬† Be warned, these suckers will catch up with you quick!¬† My husband and I spent Christmas evening together organizing our brand spankin’ new house!

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Christmas celebrations and farming continued through the weekend as my husband’s sisters and their families arrived to town.¬† Friday was lunch with grandma followed by an evening¬†with my husband’s family.¬† The entire crew worked to get things done quickly on Saturday so that we could open gifts and feast that night.¬† While there were a few snags along the way, we eventually all made it inside to see what Santa had brought.

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With one last Christmas/Packer celebration on Sunday, the Christmas week was complete!  While I enjoy the holidays and love seeing everyone, I am glad it is over.  Between moving into our new home, farming and celebrating, my husband and I stayed quite busy!  It will be nice to get back to the daily grind.

We are extremely thankful for all of our employees who help us care for the cows everyday and allow us to take time away from the farm.¬† If it wasn’t for the great team we have at our dairy farm, we wouldn’t be able to do all the things we love and enjoy.

Hope you all had a VERY Merry Christmas and made dairy part of your celebration

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COWfessions: Stories From the Barnyard

Growing up on a dairy farm has taught me many things.  One of them being that funny, embarrassing things happen and the best thing you can do is laugh about it.  Life is too short not to laugh!  I asked my Facebook followers to share their crazy farm stories with me and now I share them with you.  Do you have a funny farm story? Please share it!

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“When we were still milking in our tie stall barn, my sister-in-law and a friend were over chatting with me when I was milking. I have a space between my front teeth. I went to say something at the same time the cow I was squatting next to hit me in the face with her tail and a dingleberry on her switch got stuck between my front teeth! Needless to say…I have a great immune system :-)”
-Kris, NY dairy farmer


As a kid, nothing was quite as funny as seeing my dad get kicked in the balls.”

  -Dirk, WI business owner


“I was feeding calves and pigs a few weeks ago and things were hectic, we were chopping corn and I was in a hurry to get back to scrape the barn and get the next group of cows for the milker. I was carrying a full bucket of milk for the pigs and tripped on a root. I fell, landed on my forehead and my wrist. Now I’m on my knees and laughing and crying. I have a very sensitive¬†vagus nerve and tend to get light-headed and nauseous when I get suddenly hurt so I was staying down till I got my bearings. My partner in crime looks back, not realizing I had hurt myself, and asks me (while holding back her laughter) if I was crying over the spilt milk or had I gotten hurt? We still break out laughing when retelling the story!”
-Corinne, NY dairy farmer


“We were out doing calf chores and I caught my daughter, Taylor, letting a calf lick her stomach. She was totally oblivious to the fact I took her picture because she had her shirt over her head.”

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-Macy, WI dairy farmer


“When I was a little kid, we had a bull named Lucky. ¬†I would be out in the woods and¬†Lucky would see me, take off running and bucking his head toward me.¬†He¬†would¬†stop right in front of me¬†and¬†want me to¬†scratch, rub, and play with his head.¬†¬†He did this to my dad once and later that day he was gone. I was sad and told dad he just wanted to play, we do it all the time. Lucky wasn’t so lucky after all.”
Chris, WI dairy farmer


“I was¬†feeding calves¬†at a small dairy¬†during college¬†and¬† was normally in and out¬†within two hours, so having to use the bathroom was never much of an issue. Well, one day I had to pee and I was not even¬†close to done with my chores. I didn’t feel comfortable going into their house to use the bathroom, so I ¬†decided to¬†pee in a pen, which I certainly had done before, except this time¬† one of their sons walked in the barn and kept calling for me to see if I needed help.¬† It was not easy getting my jeans and¬†¬†bibs up without him noticing… just a little awkward!!!!!”

-Angela, WI nurse


“My brother’s heifer would mount him whenever he bent over.¬† I am certain it was her way of hugging him back.”.
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-Jillian, WI dairy farmer

“I was training a heifer to lead for the show season.¬† She was a heifer that spooked easily, but didn’t cause me too many problems, up to this point.¬† I was leading her around the yard by a rope halter and everything was going fine.¬† I don’t recall what spooked her, but the heifer all of a sudden took off, running like a bat out of hell.¬† Well, you know the saying “Never let go of the rope”?¬† That is what I was trying to do…not let go of the rope!¬† So this heifer is running and I am keeping up¬†until she meets¬†the footbath that lays right¬†in front of¬†the¬†barn door.¬†The heifer suddenly stops, takes a flying leap over the footbath and jumps into the barn; meanwhile, I am still holding on to the rope! When she jumped,¬†I was¬†jerked¬† forward and I took a nose dive into the¬†FULL foot bath.¬† At that point, the heifer got away from me and was running around the barn.¬† I turn around (while still in the footbath, mind you) and my dad, who watched this whole thing, says “Well, go get up and get her!” ¬†And so I did!”
Ashley, WI dairy farmer

¬†“I was “cow sitting” for two wonderful fair heifers. Being a city girl turned ag student, I was fairly familiar with how to act around animals and what to expect. What I was not prepared for was a crazy jersey that came into heat during my care. I started piecing it together after hearing some awesome bellaring at night. However, the next day solidified it when I went out to feed them and the Jersey decided to mount me. Nothing says hands-on learning like being taken to the ground by a hormonal teenage heifer. Let’s just say it now makes a great story to tell my students about heat detection.”
-Kellie, WI teacher

¬†“I once witnessed my dad give mouth-to-mouth CPR to a dying calf. It lived.”
-Gena, MN student

¬†“As a nine-year-old 4-H’er, my grandpa had picked out a special calf from his herd for me to bring home to our farm. After chores that night, it was time for our very first leading lesson. It was going well until the calf took off, and I tripped. I did my best, holding on the the rope and remembering “NEVER LET GO!” That is, until the calf came to the bench in our front yard. She sailed over it, but I wasn’t so lucky.¬† Fortunately, it didn’t dampen my love of showing, even though that girl didn’t make it to the fair that year!”
-Heather, Iowa dairy farmer

“This was in the office at a dairy I worked at.¬† A¬†cow got out of a pen and managed to open the door of the office and the fridge. Never found out how good her DC-305 skills were as new employee!”
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-Wiebe, WI dairy farmer

“Forty-five¬†years ago we had a lot to the west of our barn¬†containing steers. As it sometimes happens, we had a sick steer out there that needed some attention. Well, Mom and I follow Dad, who is carrying a lasso out into the lot to where the steer was laying. We¬†wanted to¬†get¬†him into the barn to separate it from the others and to treat him.¬†We walk up to the steer and¬†he does not move. Dad slips the lasso around¬†his neck so we can lead it to the barn. Dad gives a little tug on the rope, the steer launches to his feet at about 15 or 20 mile an hour, Dad grabs hold of the rope. Dad becomes one of the fastest distance runners on record hanging on to this rope, attached to a steer which is now running at full speed.¬† After¬†the first lap, the steer and Dad pass Mom and I, who have now turned into spectators, “Grab the end of the rope!”¬†dad hollers. I am thinking, “Yeah, Right”. By the time Steer and Dad made the second lap around it was, “What the Hell you guys laughing at, grab the rope.” Mom and I were in hysterics watching this steer tow this large¬†man behind.¬† Suddenly the steer turns around and knocks Dad on his¬†back and proceeds to put a hoof just outside the four corners of the imaginary box that my Dad is now in and does this dance with his head down looking between its legs, mud and manure flying from all four, but never so much as touched my Dad.”
Oh, Dad let go of the rope….
Tregan, Nebraska beef farmer

When me and my brother(Ben) were young, every Saturday morning we would go down to our neighbor’s (Todd) dairy farm and do chores. Well, this Saturday wasn’t any ordinary one! Todd and I were waiting for the feed cart to fill and Ben was cleaning the mangers. ¬†Todd and I were standing there and all of a sudden he yelled, “Behind you!”. I ¬†turned around and saw a big rat crawling on the extension cords! I jumped out of the way as Todd whacked it with a broom! It fell down and ran through a crack in the wall! We ran around to the other side where Ben was sweeping the mangers. He asked, “what are you doing?”. We told him there’s a rat under the hay bale! As Ben grabbed a cat and Todd with a broom they told me to pull the bale away! I decided well why not! So I pulled half the bale away and jumped back! The rat started to run down the walk-way with Ben and Todd in hot pursuit! As the rat made a U-turn, Ben stopped and Todd collided with him! In all the mix up somehow Todd got in front of the rat as I turned to grab a shovel as a weapon! The rat ran at Todd and went up his leg inside his jeans. He started shaking his leg! With a big kick he got it out as it flew through the air and hit me right on my back pocket! As it held on for dear life I was jumping and shaking trying to get it off! Eventually it fell off ¬†and was hit with the broom! It felt like an hour long scenario, ¬†but was likely only a few seconds!
-Luke, WI student

Modern-day Farmers: Breaking the Stereotype

I recently read an article that got me thinking, modern farmers no longer fit the classic stereotype.¬† We don’t¬†wear bib overalls¬†everywhere¬†or eat solely biscuits and gravy.¬†Modern-day farmers aren’t just men with calloused hands and dirt on their knees.¬† Today’s farmers come in all shapes and sizes.¬† There are women farmers and men farmers.¬† Farmers who are old and farmers who are young.¬† And farmers who have hobbies and interests other than farming.¬† In fact, you may not even recognize a farmer when you see one.¬† If you came knocking on my door on any typical night you would likely find me painting my nails with glitter and snapchatting my friend about the latest episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey.¬† Pretty girly, non-farmer kind of stuff (However, I will admit that the glitter nail polish does hide the dirt under my nails quite well).

I decided to share some stories¬†from a¬†few of my farmer friends to show you exactly what I mean.¬† Go ahead, read all about them.¬† Would you have guessed their profession was “farmer” by just looking at them?

Justen

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Justen is a third generation crop farmer who runs 1100 acres of corn and soybeans in Wisconsin.¬† He utilizes the latest technology such as application controls and guidance controls to increase productivity and profitability.¬† Justen also works full time as an engineer at a fabrication company and when he isn’t in the tractor seat or office chair, he can be found on the seat of his Harley.¬† Justen enjoys spending his free time riding his motorcycle through the countryside¬†and visiting different towns with his fianc√©.¬† Modern farming practices and technology allow him to do this.¬† Justen says, “For me, modern technology frees up more time to do things other than farm.¬† Successful farmers have found what is profitable, modernized it and bought a set of golf clubs or a Harley”.

Todd (a.k.a my dad)

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My dad is a fourth generation dairy farmer from WI.¬† The family farm milks 1500 Holsteins and employs about 40 people.¬† My dad’s primary duties are to oversee, well, basically everything and take care of the breeding age heifers.¬† He spends a lot of time delegating farm duties and making sure the cows are happy and healthy.¬† If you can’t find him in the barn, you better check the closest golf course.¬† Golf is one of my dad’s favorite hobbies and he tries to get out on the¬†course as much as possible.¬† Todd says, “What allows me to do¬†all the things I enjoy is a dedicated staff that has the same passion I do…making cows happy!”.¬† Who would have thought this guy in plaid shorts and a visor was a dairy farmer?

Celsey and Noah

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Celsey and Noah farm with Noah’s family in western Wisconsin.¬† Currently, Noah’s parents are sole owner’s of the dairy farm, however, Noah¬†and his brother are in the process of buying into the operation.¬† The family milks 1,000 dairy cows three times per day and enjoys farm life.¬† If the couple isn’t tending to newborn calves at night, you might see them head banging at a rock concert.¬† That’s right, not all farmers are die-hard¬†country music fans.¬† Celsey and Noah enjoy attending various rock concerts when they can.¬† Advancements in technology and good help allow them to get away every once in awhile.¬† Next time you a rockin’ out at a Avenged Sevenfold concert, be aware that the person next to you may have just finished assisting in the birth of a newborn calf.

Jessica

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Jessica grew up working on her family’s dairy farm of 100 registered Holsteins.¬† The farm was established by her great-grandfather and is currently being operated by Jessica’s brother.¬† Jessica grew up with a passion for¬†show cattle, genetics and hard work; she took this passion and made it her career.¬† Jessica now works for a company that specializes in dairy genetics and helps farmers¬†mate and produce quality dairy cows.¬† While attending college, Jessica became involved in a variety of activities, including softball, and her love for sports grew.¬†After college, her job took her to Madison and¬†she became involved in a women’s football league.¬† Jessica still goes home and helps on the family farm, but also loves playing sports and being outdoors.¬† Jessica says, ” I guess you could say on the outside I¬†don’t look like your typical farmer, however my passion for the dairy industry and agriculture is embedded in my roots.”.

Wiebe

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Originally from¬†Holland, Wiebe moved to the U.S. in¬†2002 to dairy farm.¬†While Wiebe has been a dairy farmer for most of his life, there was a period when he worked as a dairy nutrionist.¬† Currently, Wiebe manages a dairy farm that milks 1,250 cows in Wisconsin.¬†¬†When Wiebe isn’t wearing his work boots, he likely has his skates on; one of Wiebe’s hobbies is speed skating.¬† A farmer that speed skates?¬† Who would have thought?!¬†¬†Speed skating is something Wiebe has enjoyed doing since¬†he could walk.¬† Wiebe has recently begun teaching his youngest daughter to skate, perhaps we have a future Olympian in our sights?

Today’s farmers are breaking the classic stereotype.¬† While farming and agriculture¬†is their primary passion, they are taking up other hobbies and improving their¬†quality of life.¬† It seems that advancements in technology and modernization of agriculture is allowing folks to do more off the farm.¬† Next time you are on the golf course or at a concert, strike up conversation with the stranger¬†near you.¬† You might be surprised to find out just¬†who you are¬†standing next¬†to.

Are you a non-stereotypical farmer or do you know one?  Share your stories!