Sparkling clean!

Originally posted on Getting Kerry'd Away:

1426770389966-1190329860The inspector that inspects our milk coop, (AMPI) stopped at our farm yesterday. He was checking on the places where AMPI purchases their milk, to make sure it’s amazing milk and that it is produced in a clean and friendly environment.

According to Steve, the inspector  said, “The milking parlor looks amazing!”

Who pressure washes the parlor?

This chick!

Who nags on  fellow employees to always do a super-dee-duper wash job after milking?

This chick!

In the end, it’s all worth it!

To have an inspector compliment us on a clean parlor, makes me give all of our employees a pat on the back.

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Joe turns 21!

Sometimes on a Sunday, after a morning of milking, we have a bit of free time to play!

This past Sunday, Jpe, Steve and I went down to the river. Joe and I found a “natural” swing.

It was a grand, beautiful and fun time!

I love him with my whole heart, body and soul.

He turns 21-years-old April 15.

I could have begged my higher power for the World’s Greatest Son, but I didn’t. At the time, I only asked for healthy.

OK, I may have made a request that he be tall, dark and handsome. Hey, two out of three isn’t bad. He’s a bit on the pearly-white side.

But, by golly, my Higher Power went over and above when he chose to give me Joey as my first born.

Joe has made my world a better place. 20150412_09293620150412_092640

He’s in college now, studying hard and regularly attending classes. He’s responsible like that. When I sent him off to college, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about him binge drinking or using drugs of any other nature.

Joe may be my child, but he has taught me so much.

First…be who you are. Joe has never, ever let anyone influence his choices in life. A lot of people may think Joe is a bit off, but they don’t know Joe, like his Momma knows him.

He has a killer sense of humor! I don’t know how many times I have been in the dumpers and Joe will say something that will have me laughing until I snort.

Joe watches what happens in the world around him and then makes choices on how to react. I certainly never taught him that trick. I am more of a reactive person. Once Joe makes up his mind he sticks to his guns.

My favorite story about Joe happened when he was but a lad of 6-years-old. At that point in his life, his allowed his little brother to sleep in the same bed. It was a large bed, and even with two peas in the pod it looked humongous.

Joey looked as his 4-year-old brother and said, “Russell, you are such a f@#* up.”

I chucked and asked him to repeat his sentiments.

“Russell’s a f@#* up,” he said.

I then explained that that is not a nice word. We don’t use that word in our house.

“I thought it was a nice word and it meant I loved him,” he said through tears. “So what does a-s-s spell?”

“Well, that spells ass, and we don’t use that word either,” I said.

Children learn the darndest things on the school bus.

So happy birthday to my oldest son.

You are an amazing soul. You make your dad and I so very proud of you. I wish every parent in the world had a son as great as you are.

You make me smile and my eyes well up with tears when I think of what you have done for me!

Hugs and kisses, all the way to Uranus and back!

Stalkers!

20150331_074210 20150331_074156Dr. Phil always say, “Follow your gut feeling.”

Today I felt like I was being stalked and look what I found.

The brown one is Amberbosa. (Yes, Amberbosa) I don’t know who the other one is, but I know she’s going to have TWINS! That’s why she has a red ear tag.

Sparkling clean!

1426770389966-1190329860The inspector that inspects our milk coop, (AMPI) stopped at our farm yesterday. He was checking on the places where AMPI purchases their milk, to make sure it’s amazing milk and that it is produced in a clean and friendly environment.

According to Steve, the inspector  said, “The milking parlor looks amazing!”

Who pressure washes the parlor?

This chick!

Who nags on  fellow employees to always do a super-dee-duper wash job after milking?

This chick!

In the end, it’s all worth it!

To have an inspector compliment us on a clean parlor, makes me give all of our employees a pat on the back.

 

Testing for pathogens

mastitis samplingWe are still working on getting our somatic cell count lower.

Somatic cells are indicators of an infection in the udder.

 Each time a cow contracts mastitis, I take a sample of her milk and put it in the incubator.

If I did it correctly, I will get a result in 12 – 24 hours.

Then I know which medication to use for treatment.

I will post my results later.

Just call me Scientist Kerry!

Breeding is good

Every item I mention in my story is pictured here.

Every item I mention in my story is pictured here.

Breeding is very important on a dairy farm.

Maybe, I should reword that to read, “Breeding cows is very important on a dairy farm.”

Yes, I think that sounds better.

So, when a cow has reproductive issues and Steve and Zach have a hard time getting a cow pregnant, they call in the expert.

That would be me. I consider myself an expert, but the “others” just laugh at me when I say that.

(OK, seriously, I am not an expert, but my numbers are impressive.)

I have a 50 percent conception rate when I artificially inseminate cows.

Seriously! That’s an amazing number!

On average, most people who artificially inseminate cows to get them pregnant will have approximately a 30 percent conception rate.

I am very proud that I have successfully impregnated three of six cows.

Such is the case with our Jersey cow Amy.

Both Steve and Zach were having a hard time getting her to settle. (That’s what we call it when a cow is confirmed pregnant.) If a cow doesn’t get pregnant when she should it costs us in lost semen and lost milk production down the road because she will be so many days in milk. The longer a cow is milked, the less milk she produces.

Believe me, getting Amy pregnant was no easy task for me either. I made several rookie mistakes.

I had absolutely no problem getting prepared for artificially inseminating Amy. I warmed the semen straw in the automatic heater. I tucked the insemination gun in the front of my pants to get it warm.

I don’t know why the tool is called a gun. It’s more like a really thin and long syringe and has no capability of “shooting” the semen into the cow. There is no gun powder involved when inseminating a cow. Rest assured no animals were harmed during this entire breeding process.

A long tube of plastic is also shoved down the front of my Carhartt jeans. This time, if I recall correctly, I shoved all the equipment that needs to be kept warm, through my sports bra and into my pants. Hey, it was super cold outside and cold equipment kills those invaluable little sperm. The temperature of all the equipment needs to be body temperature.

Amy was in the perfect spot when I walked into the housing barn – first stall by the gate. I carefully cleaned her back-end with paper towels. (I think cows need Cottenelle. I mean the bears on television have Charmin.)

I inserted the insemination gun into her girl-cow parts and yelled, “Bang.”

Just kidding. If i did that she would probably haul off and kick me.

Once I had properly inserted the insemination gun containing the semen I had to work the tool through the through the cervix. A cow’s cervix is all lumpy and wavy and, if you lucky, it’s not what they call “tipped.”

Because I was manipulating the gun with my right arm, my left arm was in Amy’s rectum, which makes it possible to feel for her cervix. Amy’s cervix was tipped toward the ground, and a bit to the right.

The key to successfully getting a cow pregnant using artificial insemination is getting the semen in the correct area.

A cow’s cervix and uterus are shaped like the letter “Y.” The semen needs to be deposited right where the “arms” of the “Y” reach for the sky. That’s now a lot of space. Using my left hand to feel around, you can tell when you pass through the cervix, then you pull the gun back and sloooooowly deposit the semen using the plunger on the gun.

I was struggling a bit, so I called Steve over to see if he could help me out. Believe me, that’s the last thing I wanted to do.

“Um honey,” he said. “The plunger on the gun is pushed in. You need to start over.” Essentially, I deposited the semen long before I reached the “Y” in the road.

I trudged all the way back to the milk house and prepared another straw of semen, a pipette and the gun for the second time.

I trudged back to the barn and proceeded to start the insemination process all over again.

It again took me a while, but I managed to accomplish the deposition of the semen in the correct spot.

But something still felt kind of funny in my pants. Remember, I kept all my equipment in there.

I pulled it out and it was the first straw of semen that I assumed I had placed inside the cow.

The bad news…this semen cost 25 dollars per one-quarter cc straw. The other bad news…it was actually Zach that had purchased this expensive straw of semen to use on his cows. More bad news? The semen was actually sexed semen, which means the boys have been separated from the girls.

I could do nothing but hope and pray that Amy settled.

And by golly, Monday morning the vet confirmed with an ultrasound that Amy is just over one month into her pregnancy.

Of course I ran around the farm like Rocky and claimed to be the champion cow breeder. I even did what I refer to as the “Expert Dance.”

“If you’re so good, you can breed Pontiac this Thursday,” Zach said.

I’m all in. Pontiac is Joey’s cow and I am going to work my magic. Besides, I want to my dance again.

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I need your feedback

So, I recently attended a Champions of Dairy workshop in the Windy City.

It’s good to go gather with industry professionals to talk and learn about all the fun interesting things dairy producers are doing to promote the dairy industry. I mean, who knew I had to go to Chicago to be the registered dietitian from Hy-Vee in Mankato, a town just a few miles down the road from our farm.

During the workshops, I felt a bit…..I’m not sure what i felt. I wasn’t angry, happy, disappointed.

Confused maybe?

If you know me, you know I am very upfront about a lot of ideas and feelings.

If you have a piece of food sitting smack-dab in the middle of your chin, you can bet I will tell you Mr. Pizza Bit is taking all the attention away from your beautiful face.

I mean, really, if you come upon someone that has a Pizza Bit on his or her face, that’s all you can see while holding a conversation. You feel bad because you know he or she has absolutely no clue this horrendous, ugly bit is hanging around and being an attention-getting hog.You realize that if it were you that had that disturbing little bit of food on your chin, you would want to know.

I respect anyone that has the guts to say, “Hey Kerry, you have a huge smudge of ketchup on your left cheek.”

I say huge, because, with me there is no such thing as a small smudge of ketchup on my face. And it’s probably not just on my face, it’s more than likely also going to be on my favorite white shirt.

I trust people who can say it like it is.

So I was a bit confused by what I was learning at this workshop. Seems many of them think there are topics that should be avoided unless someone brings it forward.

We were discussing farm tours. We host so many visitors out here, I may as well purchase a tour bus and deck it out like I’m as famous as Tim McGraw and need a bus to match.

Imagine the bling! It gives me bling-ching…it’s a chill that makes me want to Bedazzle everything!

Anyway, during this workshop several farmers were telling their story of giving tours. They didn’t like to take people into their milking parlor, because cows poop in the parlor.

They don’t talk about treating a sick animal with antibiotics.

They don’t talk about boosting their economic base with the use of rBGH. (Although,we are considering not using this on our cows because it is becoming economically unfeasible. It’s very expensive to use.)

They don’t talk about cows that are lying on the ground and unable to get up.

That is, unless someone on the tour asks about these touchy subjects.

Aren’t all of these topics in the forefront? Don’t you, the consumer want to know exactly this type of information?

If you have ever been on a tour our here on the splendid grounds of SKH, Inc., you know I don’t mince my words.

I tell you we treat cows with antibiotics and I also show you how we segregate milk produced from those treated cows.

I tell you that you shouldn’t work on a dairy farm if you don’t like being crapped on while putting the milking unit on a certain cow. If you don’t like getting splattered with cow pee, don’t take a job harvesting white gold.

I also explain how we keep our parlor clean, even during the milking process with water hoses and pressure washing. We have to our milk inspector that comes unannounced says we have to…it’s the law.

I tell you that I drink milk from my bulk tank because I trust the milk that I am producing and I know I won’t get ill. I also tell you that you shouldn’t drink milk from my bulk tank because you don’t work with my cows. I have immunity from being splattered with aforementioned manure and such.

I am very transparent.

So what I am looking for is guidance from all my readers and from those that have been on tours on our farm.

Do you like that I am very transparent and that you get to see life on the farm as it is, or should I tame it down a bit?

What do, or did, you like about the tours we have given?

Please be gentle on Steve. I know he gives the extended version of tours and I give the quick tours, and that’s OK. Those of you that want details would thoroughly enjoy a “Steve Tour.”

Please give me your feed back. I have another tour coming up and I want to know how I should shape our presentation.

It’s a Debbie-downer kind of day

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This is me this morning after milking chores. It’s not always fun and frolic, sometimes it can be quite stressful working side-by-side with your husband. (This photo has not been Photoshopped, obviously!)

If you recall, last week (Well, I think it was last week.) Steve and I had placed a bet in the milking parlor regarding the quality of our milk.

He switched the teat dip we use on the cow before and after they are milked. Remember, the post dip smells like a Dreamsicle.

It still does and that color of orange that it is, well that’s enough to make a person smile every morning.

Well, it appears to me that I am winning the bet. I haven’t started counting my money jars and loose change at the bottom of my purse.

Even though I am ahead in the contest, I couldn’t be more frustrated.

I am the kind of girl that says, “Well, that’s not working. Let’s move on. Can we switch back to the iodine dips now?”

“No. I want information. We are waiting until the milk tester comes in 10 days to see what is going on,” Steve said. “If there are a bunch of new infections in cows, we will switch.”

That’s what I find so frustrating.

We’ve been through teat-dip experiments before and they all end up the same way.

To me, it’s blatantly obvious the foaming pre-dip and popsicle-like post dip are not working. The filter that keeps all the gobledy-gook out of the bulk tank was full of infection indicators. Those little indicators look like curdled milk.

Icky!

Through a piece of paper in front of me that contains a bunch of numbers and other information and it’s like my mind freezes up.

I don’t have time to analyze all that info.

We have tested the milking equipment and that has been adjusted accordingly. Apparently, the vacuum, which is needed to collect the milk from the cow and send it through the pipeline, was set a bit low for the speed at which our cows were letting their milk down.

Oh, they have little computers they can hook up to individual units that measure all the intricacies of a milking unit.

If you thought milking was just about putting a unit on the cow and chatting or discussing the low down on politicians, children and supper, think again.

That was the old days; back when Steve and I were young. Now we are old and there is no time for standing around in the milking parlor.

So, here it is mid-experiment, I have to deal with 10 more days of cows getting mastitis.

And that directly affects my personal goal of keeping the quality of our milk well ahead of where it is right now.

You see, it’s not all fun and laughter out here on the farm.

It’s hard working with your spouse, especially when two people have such different personalities.

Every day I find myself trying my hardest not to get into a full-blown “discussion” with my favorite man in the whole wide world.

So this morning, he went his way.

And I am going mine.

Steve, Russell, our herdsman Zachery, my father and several others are working on cleaning out the compost barn. This involves two full days of moving compost out of the barn and spreading it on the field.

Our compost is amazing. Not only does it have a ton of food for this next year’s crops, it doesn’t smell all that much either.

Oh, living on the farm place allows one to totally appreciate the smell of organic fertilizer.

Those that live around the field where that fertilizer is spread can hardly smell anything.

Believe me, that is a relief to Steve and I. We don’t need to upset our neighbors.

We do our best to keep them all happy.