Testing for pathogens

mastitis samplingWe are still working on getting our somatic cell count lower.

Somatic cells are indicators of an infection in the udder.

 Each time a cow contracts mastitis, I take a sample of her milk and put it in the incubator.

If I did it correctly, I will get a result in 12 – 24 hours.

Then I know which medication to use for treatment.

I will post my results later.

Just call me Scientist Kerry!

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.

With age comes issues

Steve and I were a sight for sore eyes Tuesday morning while we milked together.

As we find ourselves getting older, we find that we are much slower at many things than we used to be when we were youngsters in our 20s.

Being tied down to the couch because of illness isn’t just a one day ordeal anymore. Heck, when we were young we still worked like mad when we were ill.

Hacking because of a cough, didn’t slow down the well-oiled machines we were.

A sprained ankle? Forget about!

Cast on the foot? Cover that baby with a bread bag.

We had to carry milking units between cows, throw feed to the cows using a silage fork-I miss seeing my biceps bulge – and unloaded 13 wagons of small-square bales one at a time.

Five loads with almost 200 bales on it were wimp-work for us.

Being out of our prime became very apparent this particular Tuesday morning.

Steve was feeling under the weather. His cold was throwing him under the John Deere tractor in our shed.

He finished milking with me and even helped finish all the chores after milking. He felt “good enough” to help with cleaning the manure out of the holding area. We put fresh bedding in the second barn.

His body allowed him to attend a meeting in the morning with the Farm Business Management lady.

He sounded like crap when he talked. His voice was all gargley. I told him he should not go to the teachers house; she probably didn’t want him spreading sick germs anywhere near her young children.

They had their meeting in the garage!

I can’t say too much.

I wasn’t in all that great of shape Tuesday a.m. either.

While milking, during his moments of cold-induced weakness, a cow kicked the teat-dip cup out of Steve’s hand. It flew toward the front of the cow, just out of arm’s length.

“Here, just a minute,”I said, “I will get it for you.”

I tossed the water hose, with a spray nozzle on the end, near the teat dipper. It’s very handy to use the handle on the nozzle as a hook.

Just as I tossed it forward, the cow kicked in the perfect direction to land her foot directly on the top of my arm.

This happens quite frequently in the milking parlor. Most of the time the 1800-pound beast will feel the uneven ground and step off my forearm.

No harm done.

It just so happens that in this particular melee, Steve was standing right next to me, and he gave this beast a shove.

He shoved her as hard as he could.

Well, if you don’t know cows like I know cows, here’s what happens when you push a cow.

She pushes back with all her might. When you stop pushing, she stops pushing. One time, an employee was pinned between a cow and a post and he yelled for me to help him. I just looked at him and calmly said, “Quit pushing her.”

She quit trying to turn him into a pancake and he walked away a little red in the face.

So…when my doting husband tried to push the beast off the love of his life, well she dug in – right into my forearm. and I mean she dug and tried extra hard by grinding her left hoof into my skin.

All I could do was scream, “Ow! Ow! Ow!”

My arm was toast. It felt like ground-up toast.

I have no idea what ground-up toast feels like, but my arm really hurt.

My right arm was out of commission. Steve was slower than molasses.

We were a sad sight, but with no other bodies them to help finish, we were stuck with each other gimping along.

It’s several days later and my forearm is the size of the sausage stick I saw in the deli case at Cashwise. It’s probably going to turn the same color too.

Age sure makes illness and injury a problem.

Till next time…HUGS!

Rise-n-shine

There’s an old saying in the dairy world – “Once you quit milking cows, you still get up at the same time you did when you milked.’

This must be true.

It’s my Saturday morning off, and I was up at 5 a.m.

I am not complaining. I had a boat load of things that I needed to get done – mostly laundry.

I hate doing laundry.

Mostly I hate folding the clothes.

Getting up early will help with our hectic day today anyway. We have to attend the crowning of the Brown County Dairy Princess Banquet at noon. Then we have to attend Bingo at 2 p.m. I feel like there is something going on tonight, but I can’t put my finger on it.

In my usual fashion, I will just wing it throughout the day.

We will see where we end up.

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