Watertown Holsteins Complete Herd Dispersal

The catalog for my family’s herd is up and running, folks!  Please pass this along to anyone who loves the Holstein breed!  Thank you! It is May 12 at 10:30am near Watertown, SD!

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Faith Regeneration

Faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration.  John Calvin

That quote struck me this morning because I know that dairymen across the country have to have faith each day to continue in their farming.  Whether it’s your favorite cow about to calve or a test result you’re waiting on.  Of all the roles in agriculture I believe that dairy farming is the most emotional (and my dad agrees ;)).  The point is we cannot just strike up the faith it takes to live life on our own.  It is a gift from God that we have the strength to do the things He asks of us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

On our own we are mere humans, but time with God each day will renew us spiritually and through that spiritual regeneration, our faith can grow in Him.  When our faith grows, we will see God’s power in each part of our lives.  As we continue spending with time Him praying, reading His word, praising Him, and serving Him we will see and understand life from a whole different perspective designed just for us.  Dairy farming is emotional and LIFE is just plain emotional!  There are waves we have to ride out every single day, and with God’s help, no matter your profession, you can do it!!  I have had the days where I chose not put my trust in God, and believe me I could feel how weak I was on my own.  God desires to be a part of your life if you just invite Him in with a simple prayer, ‘God, help me today’. Amen and God Bless.

Wise Advice from Farms.com Older Farmers

My life has shown me that the elders seem to know best about many things.  Check out this one of a kind list of wise advice from farms.com.

AN OLD FARMER’S ADVICE:

1. Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.

2.  Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

3. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

4. A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

5. Words that soak into your ears are whispered…not yelled.

6. Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.

7. Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.

8. Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.

9. It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.

10. You cannot unsay a cruel word.

11. Every path has a few puddles.

12. When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

13. The best sermons are lived, not preached.

14. Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.

15. Don’t judge folks by their relatives.

16. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

17.  Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.

18. Don’t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you none.

19. Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

20. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

21. Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

22. The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.

23. Always drink upstream from the herd.

24. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

25. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.

26. If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.

27. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Visit Farms.com and FarmOn.com for more great articles with topics covering everything the farming world! Thanks Farms.com and FarmOn.com for all that you do to promote the agriculture way of life!!!

Faces of Farming

A big congrats to Carla a fellow dairy blogger, be sure to visit her site, Truth or Dairy.  Especially if you enjoy reading things from the dairy farmer perspective! 😉  I look forward to seeing and hearing about all the good that continues to come from the Faces of Farming. Click here to see who ALL the Faces of Farming!  Congrats folks!  Thanks for all you do for the agriculture industry.

Statistics That Should Scare All of Us!

Growing up on a dairy farm is the best thing that ever happened to me.  There were days where I thought my parents equalled slave drivers but when I look back now, I realize how blessed I was!  For example doing the chores daily taught me how to be responsible and gave me skills I still use no matter what I’m doing.  No one chooses where they were born, what family they were born into, who their parents were or what their parents did for a living, and for the sake of the sentence I think you get my point.  All of the things that we are, we know, and we have…aren’t because of everything we did.  I believe that with all my heart because I know there’s a power greater than me who orchestrates everything in my life.  He is the one who chose where I’d be born, who my family would be, what my parents would do.  Nonetheless, we all have a choice in what we fill our days with once we are grown.  The statistics below from Mike Rowe are quite disturbing and I hope they scare us all into action.  600,000 jobs need skilled workers, yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics we still have 9.3 million people unemployed.  We need to continue growing and learning for the rest of our lives and encouraging and inspiring those around us and the next generations to do the same.  Though we don’t get to choose every detail of our lives we can choose to invest in ourselves and others.  We can build our skills through reading, most libraries are free!  We can take a class, there are scholarships available all year round.  Or we could even intern with a company we are interested in, companies are always seeking to improve with new ideas.

“You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…” C.S. Lewis

5 Reasons Animal Welfare is Compromised

Slices of cruelty were slapped across my screen a few minutes ago from the undercover footage taken on a dairy in the Southwestern United States.  As disgusted and heartbroken as I may feel watching these videos that only display horrid and dishonorable actions, I see these type of events as more of a slice of reality.  I that because undercover videos are not going to vanish and unfortunately I don’t believe cruelty in humans or animals will ever be completely extinct either.  Even though I know that horrible events have occurred, I remain a proud member of the dairy industry.  Why?  Though it breaks my heart as an animal lover to see such awful treatment given to cows who work hard for all of us who consume dairy — we have to wake up to reality.  We need change in the dairy industry and we can’t be so angry or prideful to think that it isn’t our problem.  Here are my top five reasons why I believe that animal welfare is compromised all too often.

1.  Lack of Training

Training employees is a key piece of success to any business and ought to be a top priority to any dairyman or woman.  Successful dairy farms have easy to understand protocols, otherwise referred to as standard operating procedures (SOPs) posted on the dairy.   These are taught to all employees and the employees are expected to utilize them or seek help if needed.  I saw first-hand the success of having posted, easy to read SOPs during an internship on a large dairy in California.  However continuous training is required if a dairy wishes to see mishandling of cattle stopped for good.

2.  Lack of Animal Behavior Knowledge

This comes back to training.  Learning animal behavior is not a one time lesson for anyone.  From a dairy employee perspective to anyone who happens to watch the undercover footage, understanding the behavior of cattle comes in handy.  There are basics which can be taught to employees and then on the job training and continual guidance thereafter to ensure proper animal care.

3.  Lack of Animal Handling Skills

Another one that goes back to training.  There are basic bovine handling skills that dairy employees must develop during on the job training and then need continual guidance thereafter.  A zero tolerance policy for animal abuse should be installed.  I have seen first-hand a successful zero tolerance animal welfare program running in a large dairy in Minnesota, it is possible.

4.  Lack of Supervision 

All of us have been or will be employed at some point in our lives and we all need supervision on the job.  Without supervision I think it would be safe to say no matter the industry, employees will resort to their own way of thinking and behaving.  Without the proper accountability to a supervisor anything can happen and will happen.  I believe that most people want to succeed and want to do a good job.  Supervision and training are a form of support.  It is important to be supportive to your employees, show them how to be successful on their job and you will be successful.

5.  Lack of Attention and Care

The recent footage is another red flashing light and alarm sounding to all members and partners of the dairy industry.  This isn’t just one dairyman or dairywoman’s “problem”.  Undercover videos are a reality and will continue to surface until the dairy industry decides to give more attention and care where it is needed most.  We must have more transparent dairy farms if we want to continue dairy farming in this country as we do.  We are all responsible for the images that throw us in to a criminal category.  We have to do all we can, wherever we’re at and always be proactive to maintain high standards of care most importantly for the benefit of our dairy cattle.     

The last thing I want you to remember though you see horrible footage about dairy posted across the internet is that dairy farmers do what they do because they love dairy cattle.  Dairy farming is a way of life and the cattle a farmer owns are his or her livelihood.  Dairy farmers care deeply for their animals and know that it is best to see the cattle well fed, watered, given clean beds to sleep in and whenever necessary given veterinary care.  Cows are amazing creatures and work hard, but only for people who work hard to care for them.  There are changes needed in the dairy industry, but I can assure you that dairymen and women are working to improve it and take better care of their animals.  Please feel free to ask questions or comment in the comment section below.

Does Size Affect Family Farming?

As of September 12, 2014 at 4:08 p.m. ET the U.S. population is 318,867,168 people, 2% of that is 6,377,343 people.  Why did I pick out 2%?  In the United States, farmers and ranchers make up 2% of the population.  Out of the small 2%, 98% of those are family farms.  But what is a family farm?  For some people the definition of ‘family farming’ changes when a family owns a large quantity of land or cattle.  For others the quantity that a family owns makes no difference.

“The general concept of a family farm is one in which ownership and control of the farm business is held by a family of individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Family ties can and often do extend across households and generations. Historically, it was not uncommon for the family farm to provide all of the labor for the farm and to own all of the land and capital of the farm. That is no longer true today, although the extent to which individual farms hire nonfamily labor, rent-in land or other capital, or contract for various farm services varies greatly across farms. In short, the organization of family farms changes over time.”

The creativity that comes from the businessmen and businesswomen, the entrepreneurial spirits in agriculture, can take the “family farms changes over time” statement to great heights.  With my background in the agriculture industry I see these larger family farms as those who acquire the knowledge and skills to thrive in to what they are today.  The knowledge and skills required to thrive can come from the future generations of family members or others who decide to become a part of the family farm mission and vision for the future.  No matter the size, family farms would not thrive without the correct knowledge or skills to care for the land or animals.  I have the utmost respect for farmers and ranchers despite the size of their operations.

Watch the short videos below to learn a bit more about a couple family farms.

 

 

My Acre of Heaven

My family’s farm can sometimes be referred to as our little slice of heaven though it doesn’t come close!  We are very blessed to own land, and we also rent more by the acre for pasture to graze cattle and farm etc.  It’d be great if we as farmers wouldn’t have to pay rent for extra pasture or farmland.  Wouldn’t it be grand if the land was just given without cost, just a gift!  Well that’s not reality!  In fact when any farmer rents land or pasture there is no guarantee that it will even be productive land.  The farmer may have a great yield (A bumper crop as some may say!), but he or she may not!  Farming is a risky business, and a business that I have much to learn about.  Growing up on the farm, agriculture has become such a big part of my life that at times I falter and place it above my faith.  Thankfully God loves, teaches, and uses me continually no matter where I am.  I am grateful my parents taught me about farming from a young age, but more importantly they showed me who makes it all possible, God.  While I learned of the risks in farming at an early age; I also learned of God’s love for me and found out that I can be sure He payed the price for my sins even though I may not always be on ‘productive land’ in my life.  There’s no guarantee in farming with all the risks, but I know the one guarantee that really matters in this life.  That’s my acre in God’s Kingdom of heaven because His one and only Son Jesus ‘payed the rent’ with His life and and in return gave me the best guaranteed gift of all, eternal life—-an acre in His Kingdom!  There isn’t one thing that you and I can do for an acre in His Kingdom (aka eternal life), we can’t even rent one if we wanted!  It is a free gift from Him, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16  He loves us so much that he’d pay the full price for our sins.  All we have to do it admit our mistakes to Him, believe that He payed the price for them and live for Him.  I pray that if you don’t know the joy it is to have an acre in God’s Kingdom, you will soon.  

For my faithful readers, the day two of Brazil is in the making!  

Last month I attended the first ever Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Animal Institute along with 62 students, who are strongly committed to the future of animal health.  I had a blast coming together with students and professionals from across the United States, with similar interests to mine!  Not only did this event allow me to explore potential career or internship opportunities; it also gave me a unique perspective of the animal health industry within the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

During the day and a half event I was put into a tour group with about nine other students and an AFA staff member.  My group toured U.S. Premium Beef, Dairy Farmers of America, Ceva Biomune, and Fleishman-Hillard International Communications.  Each tour was fantastic; having a chance to sit down with professionals from each company was a treat!  Asking questions about their days’ schedule, and how they got where they are in their career was especially interesting, and inspiring!  Together with all the students, I was also blessed to listen to speakers with strong interests in animal agriculture.  A couple of my favorites were Kevin Murphy of Food Chain Communications and the CEO of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Forrest Roberts.  For me, attending AFA events stirs up my passion for agriculture and always challenges me to set new goals for myself within the agriculture industry.  It also encourages me to advocate for the God-given industry that I love. 

I am writing of this fantastic experience because it is just one of the many highlights AFA has added to my life in agriculture.  My first introduction to AFA happened my freshmen year when one of my close friends was chosen as an AFA Community Scholarship Recipient.  As a recipient, she received both financial support for her education, and attendance to AFA’s largest event, the AFA Leaders Conference (AFALC), held the first weekend of every November.  I have to admit that I was a bit jealous when I learned about her opportunity to attend, and all that she would experience because I had never heard of AFA before.  Since it was too late for me to apply for sponsorship for that year’s conference.  I applied the following year and thankfully received sponsorship from the Midwest Dairy Association!  The AFALC is an event that can change students lives through bridging their academic, leadership and work experiences by further developing and teaching them about the tools they need for success, personally and professionally.  Literally, it’s as if AFA sets these lessons, tools, and skills on the table so students can decide to embrace them and come away ready for whatever their life in the agriculture and food industry brings!  OK, so that may be a bit a of a dramatized picture, so let me explain.  

At the AFA Leaders Conference students are placed into one of four tracks, with each track being specifically designed for that student’s level of development.  Generally, starting out as a freshmen in college, one would attend Track 1, and follow through with Track 2 as a sophomore, 3 as a junior and now 4 as a senior.  Each track is specifically designed to shape students in a way that prepares them for an exciting career in agriculture, no matter which specific place they may belong.  Track 1 focuses on assessing and developing fundamental skills needed for success in college and a career.  Track 2 pinpoints communication skills and preparation for employment.  Track 3 prepares students for living and working in a global market.  Finally Track 4 serves as a capstone for students who have attended the other tracks, and builds on the skills that each track developed.  I attended my first conference as a sophomore and started in Track 2 because that lined up with my experiences until that point in my life.  Then, I went on as a junior to attend Track 3, and as a senior I helped to plan, prepare and staff this amazing conference as a member of the Student Advisory Team.  I was also blessed to attend the AFA Policy Institute in conjunction with National Ag Day in Washington D.C. in March 2012.  

So why take the time to write about AFA on my blog, The Dairy Lady?  As I stated earlier, it has been instrumental in encouraging me through my college career.  AFA’s mission is to create partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding college men and women preparing for careers in the agriculture and food industry.  Started in 1996 by R. Crosby Kemper with the help of other agri-business leaders, this young organization holds an extremely special and important place in our world and my heart.  It is helping meet the needs of agriculture through preparing students with the real skills that they need from the first day on the job to retirement!  It is meeting the needs of students who need to be taught and encouraged as they look forward to taking their place in the agriculture and food industry!  Even if you have no plans for a career in agriculture, believe me, how this organization impacts the 500 student attendees at the AFA Leaders Conference each year, affects you.  These students as I said before have the tools set on the table before them, they can pick them up and embrace them and come away ready for whatever life brings in their agriculture and food industry careers!  This training allows them to act as a rising tide, bringing others around them up as they surf through challenges that the future will bring.  Whether it is creating the next greatest piece of precision agriculture technology to help feed the world, or learning to connect with food consumers, the experiences that AFA students gain will impact all of us.  AFA sets the table with vital experiences, tools and skills for student success so that YOUR dinner table may serve up a juicy steak, a succulent pork chop, a baked potato and broccoli, or a sweet apple with some delicious cheese in the future!  

How AFA has impacted me is far greater than what I have expressed in the five paragraphs above, but I hope that this gives you a glimpse into what I know and believe to be, one of the greatest key pieces to success for the future of agriculture in our nation and world.  

Yesterday I diversified my agriculture perspective touring the Sun Pacific Packing Facility where I learned how oranges and kiwis are processed as whole fruit. The facility on average exports 30 loads of oranges a day, 1,000 boxes per load which sell for $15-16 a box mostly to Korea & Japan! The oranges that don’t make the cut for human consumption get fed to livestock and this particular facility on average sends out 100,000 oranges a day for that purpose.

The kiwis are marketed domestically for the most part and they ship about 1,000 boxes of kiwis a day with each box selling anywhere from $16-20 a box. Kiwi can also be sold for livestock feed but not near as much since the kiwis can also be sent to a juicing facility not far from the packing plant.

The biggest difference about the orange and kiwi process is that kiwis are sorted by weight, and oranges by size. Beyond that both fruits go through a cleaning procedure on equipment that’s cleaned daily. The oranges are also measured for acid and sugar content with high tech equipment from Japan.