Sunday, August 16, 2015

Farm, family, and friends

My Uncle Al, (my dad's brother), and his wife Delia started a dairy farm in New Mexico about 30 years ago.  My cousin Cass, his wife Dorie, and their daughter Mia farm with them.

They came to visit!  We showed them around our farm and then visited some local farms, including Glen and Jill Feldpausch's farm - Rich-Ro.  (The name of their farm comes from combining the first names of the founders, which apparently was popular.  My grandparents named their farm CarDale for Caroline and Dale.  We STILL get mail for CarDale Farms.)

My dad Jack, my Uncle Al, and my cousin Cass.  Wow, I look short.

It's fun giving tours to other dairy farmers, because their questions and interests are so different.  I also like to take pictures of times when the brothers and son all put their hands on their hips simultaneously.

Due to Kris' hand position, you can tell he's not blood related. : ) 

It also gave my dad and Al the opportunity to retell one of their favorite stories - when my dad jumped from one silo to another.  He and Al had judged the distance from the ground, and my dad was sure he could make it.  He did!  And lives to tell the tale.  I haven't told my kids this one ... I don't want them to try it themselves.  (Though really, that is pretty sweet.)

Some tour activity - here's how we push up feed for the cows:

It's a pretty low tech tool - it's a board at an angle.  It works perfectly to drive through quickly and push the feed closer to the cattle.  When they eat, they push it away from them, so this ensures they can easily reach all of it.  We do this at least every two hours during the day.

Three times a week, we scrape out all the sawdust that's currently in the barn.  We then put down lime, which kills bacteria.  After that, we put down new sawdust.  Under the sawdust we have a pad, a mattress, and another mattress pad - but the fresh sawdust provides extra cushion, plus helps keep the cattle dry.

I just asked Kris, "What do you really call the sawdust shooter?"  He said, "Sawdust shooter.  That's what it's named."  Somehow I thought there was a more technical term ... but here it is, shooting the sawdust out!

Then we went to Rich-Ro and talked with Brett, Glen, and Brianne Feldpaush.


Glen and the lovely Brianne

On their farm, they milk with timers - you can see the 120 in the picture.  When a milker begins prepping a cow, he starts the timer.  It counts up, and when it hits 90, he can return to the first cow and attach the milker.  He also gets back to the first cow before the timer hits 120 seconds.  The timer is there to make the milking process more consistent for the cows, with the ultimate goal of comfort and increased milk production.

They also toured a rotary parlor, which is like a slow merry go round - the cow gets on, gets milked, and walks off.  And of course saw the robot milker, where no human attaches the milker, because the robot does the milking for you.

There are so many ways to milk and increase cow comfort and production.  We're all working on it - all over the country and all over our gene pool.

If you want to know more, you can like my farm page on Facebookfollow @carlashelley on twitter, or get the posts sent to your email by filling out the form on the right. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

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