April 10, 2007
If you watch television, you may have seen the advertisements from Real California Cheese that states: "Happy Cows Come From California". That being said, most people in the Dairy industry know that this is simply a marketing attempt. California is the home of some of the largest corporate dairy farms in the United States and furthermore, these farms do not have a reputation of maintaining herds of "happy cows". At any rate, this post isn't intended to be a bash campaign targeted at California dairy farmers, but rather a statement of pride in my family.
For those who may not know, I grew up on a small dairy farm in Northeast Indiana. My family has been in the dairy business for over 6 decades and have operated the family farm since the 1890's. I worked on this farm from the time I was ten or eleven years old until I was about 21. At that time, I was working full time as a Web Developer and I was also in college at the local Purdue University campus. Farming was tough work. I would do my "chores" before classes and after wrestling practice when I was in high school. My summers were always full of work to be done and working on the farm was my only form of employment until I was 18 years old. I still work on the farm a few days a year to help out when help is necessary.
When I was 21, I left working on the farm and gave the cattle that I owned to my dad. By this time, the partnership between my parents and my older brother Russ had really started to show reward. Russ was introducing some ideas that would prove to be very fruitful. Dad listened and together they took action. Within a short period of time; production was up, equipment was newer, profitability was increasing and the facilities were fast reaching maximum capacity for the herd. In a few years, capacity had been exceeded and the time for a new facility was apparent.
In late November of 2006, they broke ground on the production herd's new housing facility which measures 54' wide by 136' in length. The health of the herd has always been a priority to my family. Veterinary care is routine, sanitation practices are exercised daily and nutrition is carefully monitored. The new facility makes the task of herd care a much simpler process. The housing is more capacious and the feeding area is now indoors and no longer subject to weather elements. The facility was also designed with climate in mind, so it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This facility truly does make happy cows, as you can see from the last picture I took of the new facility. Cows are resting better than before and eating better than before (both statements that can be proved by the pictures below).
Although I no longer 'turn a regular shift' on the family farm, I am very proud of where it is now. There have been many doubters along the way and I am very proud of the fact that my parents, and most of all my brother, did not listen to any of them. You guys are great.