We are front page news on the busiest newspaper day of the year for the West Central Tribune. We are the first farm in Kandiyohi County to be certified under the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
Well, you can’t really tell by this photo, but the pic of the grass-banked creek is located on our farm. The article is entitled ‘Pennock dairy becomes Kandiyohi County’s first certified for water quality’, makes the point that if we can keep clean water at the utmost importance on a farm that wasn’t even suppose to be able support a family, especially after facing hardship, we all can.
The link to the article is HERE.
The article also mentions that the Water Quality Certification Program is available to all farms. And it assists participants looking to implement best management practices that improve productivity as well as their farm’s stewardship role.
The program is entirely voluntary. The benefits to farmers are many, according to Pearson. They start with regulatory certainty. Participants are deemed in compliance with any new state or federal water quality rules. CLICK HERE for more info about the program and/or watch the video.
This is what we dealing on currently. When we drew up the needs of our family dairy farm, an alternate power source was part of it.
A power outage can be devastating to a dairy farm. There is always a need for power. From running the milker units, the lights, the vacuum pump, etc., twice a day to have power available to run the refrigeration/compressor unit when needed to keep the fluid milk cold (our milk is usually kept at 34ºF), when the power company electricity goes down, we still need the power… pretty much on schedule and beyond.
Before we began our small dairy, a power outage was merely an inconvenience… and sometimes fun. At night, it was a time for candles, lanterns/flash-lights and fire in the fireplace. For cooking, well, we have a gas stove – so some cooking could still be completed… so no biggy. But for a dairy, it’s much more than an inconvenience.
The next step (if/when we get the pto generator) is the task of getting the generator’s power to the barn and the rest of the farm. We do have a manual throw-out switch, but it is not installed yet. What this switch will allow us to do take the generated power and feed it to the farm without the rick of back-feeding power through the commercial lines, potentially risking the safety of power company workers. When connected to the generator and the switch is “thrown” it cuts the connection to outside power. At this point, the farm would be 100% dependent on the power generator for its energy. Until the cut-off switch is disengaged, the farm would not be able to use power provided by the power company, should it come back. Basically, the switch gives one the option of using farm generated power or electric company power – one or the other at any given time.
All our calves are bottle fed for 3 months. Since they are raised in groups, we halter each one at feeding time to control the chaos of everyone wanting a bottle. There are many benefits to this type of calf raising: they are all halter broke, they each get exactly the amount of milk we want them to have and they get attention from us at least 2 times a day. Calves don’t forget and we leave a positive imprint on each one. This makes for very nice adult cows and steers.
Here, our babies are waiting and begging for bottles. A group of 3 is about as many as we can handle feeding at one time.
From L to R: we have Athena, Virginia and Joey and photo bomber goat, Gabbie.
Below is the view of nursing babies as we see them. Three of our bull calves: (L to R) Buddy, Marko and Peter).
Today, when entering the winter pasture/yard, in order to bring the cows in for morning milking, we were instantly saddened. One of our lovely little Jerseys, from Indiana, lie dead on the edge of the bedding-pack. The cause was easily explainable. It appears when she laid down, she put herself in the wrong position.
We found Pixie on her side, with her legs up-hill. She was either too far over-center to get up (up hill) or perhaps another cow was resting too close to her, not allowing her to correct herself. Either way, the result was life-ending.
For our small dairy, this is quite a loss – financially and emotionally. Financially, we know this type of thing happens and we’ll get through it. We’re told so by nearly every farmer we speak with about owning and caring for animals. Emotionally, we’ll carry this with us for quite some time. We look at these critters as if they were a part of who we are. They’re part of the team – our team.
We’ve been checking the dry-cows a few time every day. We have a couple gals showing signs of calving or near calving. I (Rich) went out to the dry-cow pen/pasture and noticed Ada had some clear discharge and when I got back to the house, I mentioned it to Carol. Ada is one of Carol’s hand-milkers, so I thought she’d want to know.
A couple hours later, Carol went out to check on the same cows (I guess she doesn’t trust me to notice the obvious). As soon as she returned, she asked me who I thought was passing the “goo”. I told her Ada. So, I hear a “Hmmf”. “Gypsy is the one with the calf,” she says. Heck… I didn’t even see a calf… much less think Ada had it. I think it’s worth pointing out, that Carol had coffee before checking – I did not.
The calf was all dried off and up. And I did not see her.
This new heifer, unlike her sister Holly (a Jersey/Swedish Red/Holstein cross from last year), is half Ayrshire, making her an Ayrshire/Swedish Red/Holstein cross. We’re a little surprised we don’t see the big ears usually associated with Ayrshire.
Although we have yet to see snow, the weather was chilly. The morning temp was 19ºF.
It seems the area’s State Dairy Inspector was working a late night. We start milking at 5:00pm and two turns (2 sides of 8 cows) were already milked… and while milkers were going onto the third set of cows is when Carol noticed someone in the milk-room. As Madison went to investigate the situation, the stranger entered the parlor.
After a few minutes of chit-chat while the girls continued with the milking (I was at the Holmgren farm, helping Doug with dairy chores there), the inspector let Carol know that we had a nearly perfect inspection. On the inspection report, he noted that he’d like to see some of the steel in the parlor painted, before rust set in. Actually, the report’s notation mentioned the word “should” be painted and not ‘needed’ painting or ‘must’ be painted. The bummer part of it, is that we have safety-blue metal paint setting in the storage room. It was purchase about two weeks ago. Oh well.
We’ll see the inspector again in 6 months.
Please RE-Welcome us to the blog-world. This is your first post since our big cyber hack attack this summer.
We are attempting to rebuild our blog. You will notice that many things are not working or looking quite correct. We are working at getting the blog as close to normal as we can.
In the meantime, be sure to visit our Facebook Page…
Maybe we should say, “We have a baler.”
We’re taking this grass/hay-only dairy as serious as we can. We made a major [for us] purchase to prove it. We may have only paid $4000 for it, but online we saw these units go for as much as $12,000. So… w/o trying it out, we feel it was a VERY good deal.
This is our Big-Boy baler – a New Holland 654 Auto-wrap round baler. It actually looks better in real-life. I am only the 3rd owner.
When I first walked into the shed, I was expecting to see some major wear on a few of the parts, but the best I can tell, it still has the original drive-chains, the pick-up teeth & bands are straight and the belts appear to be in good-to-excellent shape. At this point, I (Rich) am pretty proud of this farm/dairy purchase.
Now we just need a tractor to pull it. Our old Oliver tractor is… well… we’ll miss the old gal. She lasted 10 years (off and on).
For those of you who really (I mean REALLY) like to follow us, here is the 2nd article that Kathy Voth, of On Pasture has done on us. The article is posted on OnPasture.com (http://onpasture.com/2015/05/11/need-a-great-milking-barn/).
Kathy is doing a series on our farm/dairy start-up, including many of the hardships. Along with the positives of our beginning farmer story, we hope to inspire those who are considering a small dairy operation… as well as honor all those who have helped us along the way.
We have said many times… we are humbled.
The first article can be found here: http://onpasture.com/…/should-you-give-up-raising-beef-for…/