I need your feedback

So, I recently attended a Champions of Dairy workshop in the Windy City.

It’s good to go gather with industry professionals to talk and learn about all the fun interesting things dairy producers are doing to promote the dairy industry. I mean, who knew I had to go to Chicago to be the registered dietitian from Hy-Vee in Mankato, a town just a few miles down the road from our farm.

During the workshops, I felt a bit…..I’m not sure what i felt. I wasn’t angry, happy, disappointed.

Confused maybe?

If you know me, you know I am very upfront about a lot of ideas and feelings.

If you have a piece of food sitting smack-dab in the middle of your chin, you can bet I will tell you Mr. Pizza Bit is taking all the attention away from your beautiful face.

I mean, really, if you come upon someone that has a Pizza Bit on his or her face, that’s all you can see while holding a conversation. You feel bad because you know he or she has absolutely no clue this horrendous, ugly bit is hanging around and being an attention-getting hog.You realize that if it were you that had that disturbing little bit of food on your chin, you would want to know.

I respect anyone that has the guts to say, “Hey Kerry, you have a huge smudge of ketchup on your left cheek.”

I say huge, because, with me there is no such thing as a small smudge of ketchup on my face. And it’s probably not just on my face, it’s more than likely also going to be on my favorite white shirt.

I trust people who can say it like it is.

So I was a bit confused by what I was learning at this workshop. Seems many of them think there are topics that should be avoided unless someone brings it forward.

We were discussing farm tours. We host so many visitors out here, I may as well purchase a tour bus and deck it out like I’m as famous as Tim McGraw and need a bus to match.

Imagine the bling! It gives me bling-ching…it’s a chill that makes me want to Bedazzle everything!

Anyway, during this workshop several farmers were telling their story of giving tours. They didn’t like to take people into their milking parlor, because cows poop in the parlor.

They don’t talk about treating a sick animal with antibiotics.

They don’t talk about boosting their economic base with the use of rBGH. (Although,we are considering not using this on our cows because it is becoming economically unfeasible. It’s very expensive to use.)

They don’t talk about cows that are lying on the ground and unable to get up.

That is, unless someone on the tour asks about these touchy subjects.

Aren’t all of these topics in the forefront? Don’t you, the consumer want to know exactly this type of information?

If you have ever been on a tour our here on the splendid grounds of SKH, Inc., you know I don’t mince my words.

I tell you we treat cows with antibiotics and I also show you how we segregate milk produced from those treated cows.

I tell you that you shouldn’t work on a dairy farm if you don’t like being crapped on while putting the milking unit on a certain cow. If you don’t like getting splattered with cow pee, don’t take a job harvesting white gold.

I also explain how we keep our parlor clean, even during the milking process with water hoses and pressure washing. We have to our milk inspector that comes unannounced says we have to…it’s the law.

I tell you that I drink milk from my bulk tank because I trust the milk that I am producing and I know I won’t get ill. I also tell you that you shouldn’t drink milk from my bulk tank because you don’t work with my cows. I have immunity from being splattered with aforementioned manure and such.

I am very transparent.

So what I am looking for is guidance from all my readers and from those that have been on tours on our farm.

Do you like that I am very transparent and that you get to see life on the farm as it is, or should I tame it down a bit?

What do, or did, you like about the tours we have given?

Please be gentle on Steve. I know he gives the extended version of tours and I give the quick tours, and that’s OK. Those of you that want details would thoroughly enjoy a “Steve Tour.”

Please give me your feed back. I have another tour coming up and I want to know how I should shape our presentation.

It’s a Debbie-downer kind of day

20150213_084923
This is me this morning after milking chores. It’s not always fun and frolic, sometimes it can be quite stressful working side-by-side with your husband. (This photo has not been Photoshopped, obviously!)

If you recall, last week (Well, I think it was last week.) Steve and I had placed a bet in the milking parlor regarding the quality of our milk.

He switched the teat dip we use on the cow before and after they are milked. Remember, the post dip smells like a Dreamsicle.

It still does and that color of orange that it is, well that’s enough to make a person smile every morning.

Well, it appears to me that I am winning the bet. I haven’t started counting my money jars and loose change at the bottom of my purse.

Even though I am ahead in the contest, I couldn’t be more frustrated.

I am the kind of girl that says, “Well, that’s not working. Let’s move on. Can we switch back to the iodine dips now?”

“No. I want information. We are waiting until the milk tester comes in 10 days to see what is going on,” Steve said. “If there are a bunch of new infections in cows, we will switch.”

That’s what I find so frustrating.

We’ve been through teat-dip experiments before and they all end up the same way.

To me, it’s blatantly obvious the foaming pre-dip and popsicle-like post dip are not working. The filter that keeps all the gobledy-gook out of the bulk tank was full of infection indicators. Those little indicators look like curdled milk.

Icky!

Through a piece of paper in front of me that contains a bunch of numbers and other information and it’s like my mind freezes up.

I don’t have time to analyze all that info.

We have tested the milking equipment and that has been adjusted accordingly. Apparently, the vacuum, which is needed to collect the milk from the cow and send it through the pipeline, was set a bit low for the speed at which our cows were letting their milk down.

Oh, they have little computers they can hook up to individual units that measure all the intricacies of a milking unit.

If you thought milking was just about putting a unit on the cow and chatting or discussing the low down on politicians, children and supper, think again.

That was the old days; back when Steve and I were young. Now we are old and there is no time for standing around in the milking parlor.

So, here it is mid-experiment, I have to deal with 10 more days of cows getting mastitis.

And that directly affects my personal goal of keeping the quality of our milk well ahead of where it is right now.

You see, it’s not all fun and laughter out here on the farm.

It’s hard working with your spouse, especially when two people have such different personalities.

Every day I find myself trying my hardest not to get into a full-blown “discussion” with my favorite man in the whole wide world.

So this morning, he went his way.

And I am going mine.

Steve, Russell, our herdsman Zachery, my father and several others are working on cleaning out the compost barn. This involves two full days of moving compost out of the barn and spreading it on the field.

Our compost is amazing. Not only does it have a ton of food for this next year’s crops, it doesn’t smell all that much either.

Oh, living on the farm place allows one to totally appreciate the smell of organic fertilizer.

Those that live around the field where that fertilizer is spread can hardly smell anything.

Believe me, that is a relief to Steve and I. We don’t need to upset our neighbors.

We do our best to keep them all happy.

It’s a Debbie-Downer kind of day

20150213_084923
This is me immediately after milking the cows this morning. It’s not always fun and games being a dairy farmer. Today I am frustrated. Continue reading to see what’s up in my world.

If you recall, last week (Well, I think it was last week.) Steve and I had placed a bet in the milking parlor regarding the quality of our milk.

He switched the teat dip we use on the cow before and after they are milked. Remember, the post dip smells like a Dreamsicle.

It still does and that color of orange that it is, well that’s enough to make a person smile every morning.

Well, it appears to me that I am winning the bet. I haven’t started counting my money jars and loose change at the bottom of my purse.

Even though I am ahead in the contest, I couldn’t be more frustrated.

I am the kind of girl that says, “Well, that’s not working. Let’s move on. Can we switch back to the iodine dips now?”

“No. I want information. We are waiting until the milk tester comes in 10 days to see what is going on,” Steve said. “If there are a bunch of new infections in cows, we will switch.”

That’s what I find so frustrating.

We’ve been through teat-dip experiments before and they all end up the same way.

To me, it’s blatantly obvious the foaming pre-dip and popsicle-like post dip are not working. The filter that keeps all the gobledy-gook out of the bulk tank was full of infection indicators. Those little indicators look like curdled milk.

Icky!

Through a piece of paper in front of me that contains a bunch of numbers and other information and it’s like my mind freezes up.

I don’t have time to analyze all that info.

We have tested the milking equipment and that has been adjusted accordingly. Apparently, the vacuum, which is needed to collect the milk from the cow and send it through the pipeline, was set a bit low for the speed at which our cows were letting their milk down.

Oh, they have little computers they can hook up to individual units that measure all the intricacies of a milking unit.

If you thought milking was just about putting a unit on the cow and chatting or discussing the low down on politicians, children and supper, think again.

That was the old days; back when Steve and I were young. Now we are old and there is no time for standing around in the milking parlor.

So, here it is mid-experiment, I have to deal with 10 more days of cows getting mastitis.

And that directly affects my personal goal of keeping the quality of our milk well ahead of where it is right now.

You see, it’s not all fun and laughter out here on the farm.

It’s hard working with your spouse, especially when two people have such different personalities.

Every day I find myself trying my hardest not to get into a full-blown “discussion” with my favorite man in the whole wide world.

So this morning, he went his way.

And I am going mine.

Steve, Russell, our herdsman Zachery, my father and several others are working on cleaning out the compost barn. This involves two full days of moving compost out of the barn and spreading it on the field.

Our compost is amazing. Not only does it have a ton of food for this next year’s crops, it doesn’t smell all that much either.

Oh, living on the farm place allows one to totally appreciate the smell of organic fertilizer.

Those that live around the field where that fertilizer is spread can hardly smell anything.

Believe me, that is a relief to Steve and I. We don’t need to upset our neighbors.

We do our best to keep them all happy.

(I know I promised a story on my construction project here at home – still working on it. Will share soon. Patience is a virtue and is one that i don’t possess!)

High stake bets in the milking parlor

One of our most curious cows has earned the name Snoop Dog!
One of our most curious cows has earned the name Snoop Dog! (Old photo, Snoop is no longer with us.)

 

Steve and I have a huge bet laying out on the line.

Whomever loses the bet has to take the other person out to supper at
George’s Fine Steaks; plus pay the other person $100 on top of that.

I hope I win. I could use that money!

I don’t have that much cash lying around in the bottom of my purse. If I
counted the money hiding in all the black crevasses of my
bag, I would probably have 25 cents.

Here’s the dealio.

Two weeks ago, we switched our pre- and post- dip solutions.

Previously, we were using an iodine solution for both procedures.

The pre-dip was, and still is, designed to kill all the germs on the teat.

The post-dip was and still is, designed to disinfect the milk residue left on the teat after milking.

The post-dip also has an amazing emollient which keeps the teats nice and soft and in great condition.

Years ago, we tested our bedding to see exactly what kind of germs are in thriving in the moist warm sawdust and
we determined the iodine solution is the perfect solution to ending the live of nasty bacteria.

So, our new dip is made from peroxide. It’s kind of cool. Once we
dip the teat, it dip foams, in much the same way it does when it was used on fresh wounds.

Does anyone else remember, as a child, screaming bloody murder when your Mother
would come into the bathroom carrying the dreaded brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide to clean up a scraped knee.

I recall screaming so much it was like I thought my lower leg was
going to drop off as soon and the fizzing started. I also remember, after
settling down and realizing my leg was still
in one piece, thinking, “Man, this is really cool to watch. Can you put
some more on my owie?” I also remember that
consequent boo-boos also had the exact same scenario play out!

So, back to the cows.

They don’t scream bloody murder when I dip their sensitive teats in iodine. They don’t even flinch.

Well, most of them don’t; some do.

The pre-dip foams, I scrub the teats and then I dry them with a very soft,
light-blue microfiber towel.

We then post-dip with a very sticky, liquid orange post-dip. This dip is called a
barrier dip because it sort of seals off theopening on the end of the teat.

It smells amazing and if it was any thinner, we may be tempted to drink it, because it looks like and smells like a Dreamsicle .

So, since we have been using the new peroxide, we have seen an uptick in the number of cows that have sub-clinical cases
of mastitis. We know this because the milk tester came Monday and we have all the individual somatic cell counts for each
individual cow.

We also know the percent of the total cell count to the bulk tank milk
that each individual cow contributes.

I consider a cow that is less than 2 percent of the tank is subclinical – in my opinion.

A cow that is 9 or 10 percent of the tank should be looked at, possible treated and
her milk should be separated. More than likely, she is a clinical case and
may need to meat the butcher in the sky. (Misspelling intended!)

Since switching the dips, the number of new cases has increased by 50 percent and so
has the cell count. From a nice, acceptable average count of 180,000 per full tank of milk, the count has also risen more than double to an average of 270,000.

Drives me crazy! I hate having a cell count of 200,000-plus. It frustrates me every single day when I walk into the milking parlor.

So Steve and I were “discussing” our cell count Friday morning.

He wants to continue using the peroxide dip and Dreamsicle-orange post
dip.I want to go back to my trusted and effective iodine dipping procedure.

We had to negotiate.

I hate negotiating.

Steve has one month to prove to me that the peroxide will be an effective dip.That means, he has to maintain the cell count
we currently have and see very few new clinical cases.

I will then have one month to prove that iodine is the better option. I
have to prove that when we switch to the iodine, the cell count will drop and we will see a decrease in the number of new cases and new infections.

Yes, we will have the scientific data to prove the case one way or the
other. That’s why the milk tester comes 11 or 12
times a year.

I am going to win. If, and when, I win…I mean, I will rub it in like crazy.

When I lose…I will say nothing.

But just in case, I better get into the house and start contributing to my
change containers, so i can meet my possible $200 losses.

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