Thursday, March 19, 2009

There is hope....

Good Morning everyone! First I want to thank you all for the support yesterday - what a rollar coaster day. Our neighbor came over last night to talk to the Milk Man, just to get his bearings I think. MM is a rock and our neighbor is a young man - 29 - was needing someone to let it out on. MM is one of those people who will do what he can to give someone a 'nudge'. He told this young man that its not the end of the world and that to take a year and see where he is at - then see about starting over. The light at the end of the tunnel was when the young man said that he is keeping his calves and shop tools!!!! VICTORY! For those of you who dont understand, let me explain - heifer calves grow up into COWS!!! and keeping the shop tools means he can repair future equipment that he purchases!! He is still thinking about his future and NOT GIVING UP! What a breath of fresh air!! For those who dont understand why this was so upsetting - other than for our friend - when a small farmer goes down, MANY MORE follow. We keep on for each other lots of times, to encourage each other, help each other and to make sure that the little guy is always stood up for. AIG sure didnt do that did they - If Obama and his ilk want to impress me and MANY others, give SMALL FARMERS a bailout. Now, go ahead and start in about the 'gov programs' that the farmers get, start in about the tax breaks - etc... but be prepared to prove what you say. For those who are irritated that I said Obama's name - to bad - he's not alone with screwing the farmers over. What has happened to the FAMILY FARM is why our economy sucks bull biscuts as Coffee Man says. Dont believe me? Look at the decline since the mid 70's....Thats when they started to over regulate the farms. When I was growing up on our farm, there were 17 farms in the valley we lived in. We sold our cows in 1986 and were the 3rd farm to do it in our valley... now ya know how many are left..... 0.... none.. not one. They are standing empty and the land is being plundered by a 'big farmer' for his 600+ cow dairy. They 'run' the land right into the shitter. They dont worry about 'run off', they dont worry about making the land viable for when they are no longer using it. There is so much more to farming than the average person knows - like land maintanance. I was thinking last night after CoffeeMan told me to keep being positive, that I would do that - but I am also going to post about somthing differant everyday that needs to change or somthing that we do to preserve the land and each other.

I had an interesting thing to pass on about cattle. With the part time job that I do, I talk to farmers about their operations. I went to a 'big dairy' the other day and asked them how old their cows are before they are 'done' with them. Now for most of you this may not be shocking as you may not know how long a cow can live and be productive - but the guy told me his oldest cow is 3..... We dont consider them a cow until they have had their 3rd calf. Big differance huh? Cows can live to be in their 20's but the average life of them now is 10-12 on a 'family farm' and more if they are on Amish farms being milked by hand. The biggest reason the cows 'burn up' on the big farms is because they are 'pushed'. They are given drugs so they grow faster, so they can begiven drugs so they can be bred sooner, so they can be given drugs so they can freshen faster, so that they can begiven drugs so they can milk faster and more. They are breeding heifer calves at 11-13 months so that they can have calves BEFORE THEY ARE 2!!! We breed our heifers at 2 so that they are not stunted for being bred to early. When these 11 month old heifers are 'ready',meaning the growth shot they were given gets them to 800 to a 1000lbs, they give them a shot to bring them into heat so that they can be bred early. If the heifer 'stays', she is then put in a barn till she is close to freshening/calving. Then when she hits her due date, she is given a shot to make her calve weather she is ready or not. When she calves she is ready to be milked. At this time they are given shots to produce more milk. What happens is that this shot makes them pull the calcium from their own bones to produce more milk than a cow is ment to produce. This is how they burn up.. overuse and missuse as far as I am concerned. After this cow has been milking for about 12 days, she is given a shot to bring her back into heat so that she can have a calf every 10 months apart. A cows gestation period is 9 months or 40 weeks, just like a person. We let our cows come into heat on their own - at times we do let younger cattle get bred, but only if they have grown big enough on their own. We dont push them. When a cow calves, we allow her to 'come in' on her own, meaning that we allow her to come into heat on her own after calving because her body knows when it is ready for another calf. This usually happens with in 3 months. If for some reason she doesnt come in on her own - we check her for infection or maybe that she has a tear in her uturus etc. If we find her to be ok, then we will, at times, give her a shot to bring her into heat. We do this mostly for her health. If a cow doesnt come into heat, she starts to get other physical troubles. We also do it so that she will calve and we can continue to milk her.

Well, I think thats enough lessons for today. I have to work today and finish taxes too..ish. SO, I will try to post some pictures of the farm later. The boys are cleaning seed oats to sell and that is a neat process.

25 comments:

Dawn said...

I don't know how you possibly have time to blog with all you do. I grew up on a farm--my dad is the 3rd generation on his land and I think my brother is following in his steps and I know how much work there is. And I know how frustrating it is to be called 'the salt of the earth' but regulated into oblivion. Thanks for sharing. I love reading your blog.

COFFEE MAN said...

i know that its hard to farm , its hard to make it in any small business anymore it seems . i heard a person make a comment the other day and it made sense to me . maybe its wrong , not sure , but made sense . He said that there are two types of farmers ( small business) A: those that farm the land B: Those that farm the system ( big business ) not sure if thats acurate , but it sure looks that way . hope your friend does well .

Gizmo said...

I would agree with CoffeeMan's statement about two kinds of farmers.
I'm happy to see that the neighbor hasn't given up!
I want to buy my milk and calves from you!

Suzanne said...

The wives of many local farmers around here have to work full time just to make ends meet so that they can continue to farm and have health insurance. I could go on and on about government regulations. It makes it impossible for the farmer.

Here's what I propose. We need to call for a congressional session to look into all these issues......and HEIDI needs to speak before the session!!! I am serious.

- Suzanne

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I know we need rules but somehow farmers should be able to sell their products from their farms. Get certified through the State or something but the certification shouldn't be too intensive or too costly. If nothing else, get customers to sign a waiver form when they buy. Try to get your State politicians involved in this. Especially in this economy, GIVE FREEDOMS TO FARMERS. I totally want to support my local farmers.

Andi said...

Hi! Well, you sound better today. Dawn is my sister, and she's right that my brother plans to follow in our dad's footsteps, however, my dad is despairing about how he will make it work lately. The check is smaller every time, and I know he worries about not making it. I will be devastated if he ever loses our farm. But, you're right...God is in control.

My mom also worked full time, plus my dad has always worked for oil companies as a pumper to make ends meet for the family. It's a hard life. Thank you for being brave and steadfast in your beliefs about the importance of our farmers!

gtyyup said...

I appreciate your dairy lesson of the day...I knew that dairy stock had a short production life...but didn't know all those details..wow!

We too have real jobs to supplement our farm. My Man works a full time job in town, and I have 3 part time jobs...plus irrigating the hay.

We're making it ok, but we work like this so we can have the lifestyle we have.

DayPhoto said...

Amen! You should go on the road, for you are saying what ALL of us in the farming world in our neck of the woods are saying.

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

1inCollege1inDiapers said...

I have nothing to do with farming, but I'll tell you I appreciate those who do it. Thank you for explaining some of the workings. It breaks my heart to see all the farms that are being lost. I live in what used to be a small farming community in Calif., but now all I see is cement. When people complain about the heat I like to say that if we had land to absorb the heat rather than all the concrete they wouldn't be as hot. People are really going to be complaining when all the small farmers and milkmen are put out and the prices for food goes even higher.

Sara said...

That was a really great post. You're right, lots of folks don't realize how very, very much goes into farming. I think they'd appreciate it and enjoy it if they did.
And the over-regulation is sooo frustrating on so many levels.
Much respect for you and MM and your neighbors for the way you run your farms, care for your animals, and continue an important tradition.
I'm so grateful my kids get to grow up on a farm, be it ever so humble.
Keep up the good work! And thanks for sharing with us!

~ Sara ~ said...

I'm so glad to hear that there is hope again. We all need someone to "vent" and work things out.
I know I wish that sometimes i had someone other than a family member to help me get through the "I can't take it anymore, can't make it, it's never going to get any better!" stage I go through every now and again.

However, everyday we are closer to things getting better (RIGHT?!)...

OH and I happen to totally agree with you on EVERYTHING!!! I personlly wish that the like minded farmers would stand together, and maybe we could get things changed. Little by little...

georgie said...

My uncle and his eldest son raised cattle for many years. It was very hard work with not that great a monetary reward. Now reading about what is involved re: dairy cattle I REALLY appreciate all of your work.

More than Survival said...

It is EXTREMELY sad about family farms. I live in the middle of BIG time crop farmers.... they are continually absorbing the family farms that are left. I come from a farming family..... only one uncle still hanging on (for now). He is a small time dairy operation. Both he and my aunt work off the farm as well.... very BUSY life! The term Hobby farming (which is what I am) is WAY too accurate... there is NO WAY I could earn much (if anything) from our little "hobby"..... Our neighbors became BIG pork producers 6 years ago... according to today's standards they aren't even that big anymore (they only have 3200 head). SAD!!! I live within an hour of Fair Oaks Dairy farm... I call it the "factory"... they milk the cows three times a day and have the same management practices that you shared....
Heather

Jinglebob said...

Great post.

I as a small rancher take food care of my land as it is my resource.

You've inspired me to do a post on how I run cattle thru' our pastures.

Ye Merrie Quilter said...

I'm happy to hear that your young friend is willing to give it some more time. Let him know that there are families who appreciate the small farmer. Maybe there's something more that can be done with the land to help make ends meet, like the pumpkin farms that have turned into a mini theme park to bring in money directly. I don't know how that would translate to cow farmers. Cow World? The Wonderful World of Milk Production? Watch live births of calves, how to milk by hand, churning butter the old-fashioned way, etc. Might make good field trips and you can charge the schools to bring busses of kids in. Just thinkin outside the box.

bayouwoman said...

Hopefully MM had something to do with the change of plans? It's a good thing. And thanks for the education. I had no idea. Only thing I fear is when PETA people read your blog they'll boycot milk next for cruelty to cows. Tell MM how much we appreciate his down home farming ways!
BW

Greenmare said...

and from working in the dairy health industry for a few years I saw BIG farms where they milk 24 hours a day, the cows were milked every 6 hours round the clock. When do they rest? When they are hauled off to be slaughtered. I loved the small farmers who took real care of their cows like you do. I bet you name them just like my grandpa did too!

Heidi said...

BW - I thought of that too - but I do think that they 'may' have sense enough to not boycot the complete industry, but will instead try to buy locally - Mare, we name some of our cows.. :)

LDF said...

There's just something RIGHT about living connected to the good earth and your crops and animals, or at least buying your eggs, milk, meat, fruit, etc directly from a local farmer. Sadly, we're regulated to death up here in Canada too. I still miss farm life, but by the time my kids were young adults, it just wasn't possible for a small ("hobby") farmer to make a living anymore. You have explained the plight of small farmers all over the world very eloquently Heidi! Let's hope our respective countries wise up!

Karen Deborah said...

WOW Your teaching all of us. I believe that the way those cows are treated is coming back on us in the form of cancers. Be not deceived God is not mocked you reap what you sow.
If we sow in cruelty and sickness then we also reap the sickness and destroy the land. An amoral people CANNOT govern themselves. So we need to speak up and do something. someone like you with a voice needs to be heard, really heard.

Heide said...

Heidi, I was out cruising my frequented snarky sites and I happened upon this post on "Passive Agressive" that just screamed out to be forwarded on to you. Enjoy!

http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/2009/03/22/oh-the-rancher-and-the-mcmansioner-should-be-friends/

Jamey said...

Thank you for doing your part to educate many who have no knowledge of small family farms. My husband is a former small dairy farmer and had we not moved for family reasons we would still be in the milk business. He misses his cows everyday and cannot stand to think about the big dairies and what they do to the land and the animals! We pray that the "little guys" can hang on through another slump in the milk prices. Keep on educating! Jamey

Nancy said...

Cows have a tough life, really. Sounds like yours are taken care of the right way. So sad for all those others. I really do enjoy reading your posts as you tell it like it is....and I like that!!!

I've been out of sight the past couple of weeks...check my blog, and you'll see what I've been up to! Now I am feeling kind of burned out and just can't seem to get back to finishing it! LOL Oh, I will get it done but in my own good old time! ha-ha

((( HUGS )))

Living on the Spit said...

I love it when you give farm lessons...things I love but never would possibly have the chance to learn about here on the bay.

Kris said...

*sigh* I wish we lived closer to you so we could buy your milk. Farming is hard but I appreciate those who do right by their animals and their land. A big HUG for hanging in there and doing the right thing!