Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Morning on the Dairy Farm

You've probably heard that dairy farmers don't get a day off. There are always calves to feed and cows to milk. In fact, usually when I tell people my husband is a dairy farmer, they raise their eyebrows, shake their heads, and respond with something like, "I don't pity you." or "I bet you never get a vacation."

Yes, dairy farming is hard work, but it's also very rewarding. I came across a quotation in a magazine recently that said, "Dairy Farming. Has there ever been a business more about family?" One of the best things about dairy farming is that family is engrained in every single thing we do. This is especially evident on Christmas morning.

What's a typical Christmas morning on the dairy farm like? There are still morning chores to be done. Our cows are milked three times a day, at 5am, 1pm and 8pm. Before Christmas can officially begin, the cows go through the parlor for their morning milking. While that is happening, the cows and heifers also get their morning feed. All of our cow feed is a rationed formula. It goes into a large mixer and is then sent up a conveyer belt into the barn (see our Facebook Album, "What Do Cows Eat?" for more on this topic.) In addition to the cows, feed is also mixed for the heifers (young females that haven't calved yet.) This process takes about two hours. During this time, the calves are also being fed their morning milk.

How many people does all of this take? Ideally, there is one person in the milking parlor, one person moving cows into the parlor, one person making cow feed, and two people feeding calves. On holidays, a great deal of this work falls onto our family, so our employees can enjoy some time off. See why dairy farming is a family affair? We must work together to ensure that all of the jobs get done and that our business runs as a smooth as possible.

Any other day, there will be jobs found and hands kept busy. On Christmas, however, we do chores and spend most of the rest of the day together as a family. This year, Diane hosted a wonderful noontime meal at her house, and we enjoyed fellowship with each other. Yes, dairy farming is a lot of work, but it also strengthens bonds as family, as we work side-by-side to care for our cows and earn a living.

Diane grew up on a dairy farm, and for 28 years, her and Allen have owned and operated our family farm.

Fourth generation of Hartschuhs to be involved with dairy farming. Left to right: Rose, Greg, Jason, Brian, Emily.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A couple cool ag videos

The facts in these videos are pretty astounding. America's farmers are an awesome bunch.

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A Fall to Be Thankful For

I was just thinking tonight that it was time to log back in to the ol'e blog and update the world about our little piece of heaven here on the dairy farm. To my dismay, it's been almost three months since the last post! It's hard to believe that's possible. This fall has been like many before: fast and furious. In the midst of all the hub-bub, though, there's much to be thankful for. In the spirit of the holidays, here's a list of our blessings.

  1. American agriculture. It goes without saying that this industry is our nation's backbone and our family's passion. We couldn't imagine making a livelihood any other way. Even when the markets are down and the workload is up, agriculture is a blessing.
  2. Our family. Family and work are one in the same around here. Not a meal goes by that we don't talk about things around the farm. There's no better way to express love than by working side by side to accomplish a common goal.
  3. Consumers. It is so rewarding producing a product that is going to be enjoyed by families across the country. We do things right, because we also expect a high-quality product. It's a pretty cool feeling to go to the grocery store to buy a tub of Toft's ice cream and know that our cows helped make it possible.
  4. Our animals. Walking through the barn and petting a cow on the forehead is a pretty cool feeling. They are a lot of work, and it's not all joyful, but at the end of the day, we care for the cows like part of our family.
  5. The land. There's something about fresh-tilled ground in the spring that invokes a variety of emotions. Time flies, and in the course of a year, you can experience a whole life cycle as a result of the land. Planting, growing, and harvesting: the land provides for our family and for the world.
  6. God. He makes it all possible.
I apologize for the cliche' that is this post, but it's all heartfelt. It's hard to describe what we do to people outside of agriculture, but know that the intentions of farmers are sincere. We do what we do because we love it, and we couldn't be more thankful.