My local paper ran an article recently about dairy farmers wanting to remove the word milk from behind non-dairy products (you can read it here). Let’s be real, almond ‘milk’ is not milk. We don’t call grape juice fruit milk. Do you even know how many almonds are in almond juice (as I will henceforth be calling it)? Six. Six almonds. It shouldn’t even use the word almond in the name! Anyway, in the comments on the article someone commented ‘this is stupid’, and when asked why she replied that “it’s naïve to say that people buying nut milks are under the impression it has cow’s milk in it.” She went on to say that this is a waste of time and energy because it won’t change anything.
Maybe she’s right. Maybe it won’t change anything. But what if it does? The whole thread got me thinking about why it’s so important to me that non-dairy alternatives not be called milk or cheese or yogurt. Then I realized, milk is so much more than just a word.
As far as I know, my cows can’t talk. I mean, I have a sneaking suspicion that they actually
CAN talk and are just playing some giant elaborate joke on me by pretending they can’t. And honestly, the day I find out that they CAN talk but are CHOOSING not to I’m gonna be ticked. Anyway, because they can’t (won’t) talk to me, we have to use every possible tool at our disposal to know how to care for them, how to make them better. We have all sorts of resources at our fingertips (for a price) that we can use to gather the information we need. Yesterday we used one of those resources. Yesterday some random dude came to our farm specifically to objectify our cows, and we loved it. Well, sort of. I mean, it’s kind of hard to stand there and watch your cows be criticized on how they look when they all look super incredibly adorable to me….but it helps let us know that what we’re doing is good for our cows or that we need to be looking a different direction.
Being the sub-par, inconsistent blogger that I am, I haven’t written enough posts to feature my ‘top 5 of 2016′. I would literally just be re-sharing all of my posts. But I do feel like 2016 was significant enough to at least garner it’s own post!
As dairy farmers, we’re leaving 2016 behind with a good healthy fear of what may come. It hasn’t been all bad. We’re still here. Doing what we love with the people and cows we love…but the fear of what’s to come makes that a bittersweet thought. We made some big changes that led to some big rewards. We’ve achieved goals that were set decades ago (by my dad) and could be on our way to achieving a goal that I set 5 years ago. No matter how I look at it, 2016 was a year of good ol’ fashioned progressive change.
I’ve spent a week thinking about this post. I had planned some long, annoying intro afraid that the post itself would be too short. Then it hit me: who cares. Whether it’s 2 sentences or 2 chapters, what I learned from the experience I’m about to describe is 1000 times more important than how long it takes you to read about it.
One week ago today I had a pretty unique-to-me experience that left me smiling for days after.
It’s quickly becoming my favorite time of year. Fall! I love it all: the leaves, the weather, the smells! The smells! We’re about to be at the beginning of my FAVORITE fall smell…CORN SILAGE! 🙂 –> Don’t worry if you don’t agree, I’m pretty sure it’s a farm kid thing. I can’t even describe it, I know that when ‘corn juice’ gets heated up under your car it smells just like popcorn. And that my mailwoman hates it 😉 But seriously, it’s just about every farmers favorite smell…like, if Yankee Candle made a candle of Corn Silage Smell…I’d own it. And I NEVER burn candles.
It’s also usually a pretty stressful time for dairy farmers (as I typed that I thought to myself, “come on self, when ISN’T a stressful time for dairy farmers?). But corn harvest season for sure! Think about it, in the next 2-3 weeks, we’ll be putting up ALL of the corn that ALL of our cows are going to be eating for the next year. In 2 weeks. If we don’t harvest it at the right time it will drastically affect the quality. Do you know how we get our cows to milk so well? Good quality care and good quality feed. And we have 2 weeks to make good quality feed. So yeah. Stressful.
But I digress. This blog post isn’t about our crazy farm life (I could fill 1000 blog posts about that!). It’s about what’s about to happen to all of you! Farmers and their equipment are about to invade your roads, highways, and dirt paths in numbers and ways you haven’t seen since earlier this spring. With top speeds in the 20 MPH’s you’re going to get suuuuuper annoyed and we’re going to be reeeeally anxious. Living on a major highway, we travel and cross some very heavily used highways (more than most farmers I think). So with our experiences, I’ve put together a little guide for farmers and non to follow over the next few months.
Aaaaahhhhh summer. The smell of fresh cut grass, the hot summer sun, no responsibilities, and….FAIR SEASON. Obviously I’m throwing it back there to 20 years and a lot less responsibility ago. I loved fair. I literally loved everything about it. The smells, the food, the people, the work (it was WAY easier than working at home and actually got me out of working at home for most of the week…until I could drive, then it was the worst because I had to do both). THE DIME TOSS (that is no more, in the most insanely inhumane UNJUST tragic event of my life). I loved it all. It was the last hurray before school – you know, a 10 year olds ‘real world’. But what happens when it’s over?
I was never in it for the cow show. Dad would never let us show our best cows because, well, they were our best…so we weren’t usually class winners. Don’t get me wrong, we (Cole and I) each have a few blue ribbons, Cole was even pulled for honorable mention senior champ a few times. But it was hard to fall in love with it when you kind of already knew who was going to take home the banner. I got a sleeping bag once! My oldest & first cow was the only Jersey in the 125,000lbs of milk class. 😉 I was 100% ok with that.
So what was I there for? Easy — 4H. I. Loved. 4H. The kids, the parents, the shared responsibilities, the decorations, the comradery. I could be wrong (you’d have to confirm with my fellow 4-H alum) but the years I was in 4H…we did it right. We had fun, the kind of fun where when you hear about it you think ‘oh, well, if they had that much fun they must not have performed that well’. Wrongo! We had champion showmen, champion fitters, champion COWS…but we did it with grace (most of the time), a good natured sense of competition, and FUN. We won a few decoration contests and occasionally, we’d even win the daily ‘cleanest barn’ award (free milkshakes all around!), There was that one year that we got ROBBED and then the following year we didn’t care much, or at all…but otherwise we did alright. So what happens when you’re a 4H kid who shows cows then all of the sudden you’re too old for 4H?
Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel…blah? Like, maybe nothing too exciting happened, but then nothing particularly went wrong either…you just feel like, nothing. Have you ever had that month? That 2 months?
It’s been 2 months since my last blog post. Not because I’ve had nothing to say (I ALWAYS have something to say 😉 ) but because I didn’t feel like saying it. I’ve been in a F-U-N-K FUNK. We all have them. A lot of people get them in the winter (it has to do with the lack of vitamin D/sunlight) but you can have them anytime. Maybe you majorly screwed up at work, maybe you’re going through something personal, or maybe it’s your health…everyone at some point in their lives has been in a funk.
Some funks last longer than others and some can be pretty serious (I promise you I’m not depressed…) but I know exactly what this is….it’s the dairy farmer funk.