I have been meticulously working on my soapbox for quite a while now, and I think it's time to break it out.
(Hope I don't bust my rear....)
Walk with me, talk with me....
You are sitting in your house, it's evening time..the kid(s) have already eaten and finished their homework...nothing left to do but watch tv and relax....
What are your biggest fears? Who do you think is out to get you and your family?
So you were probably with me until that last one.
Maybe you agree with the last one?
Honestly, I don't know where we went wrong.
I am speechless when I read articles concerning "milk safety" and "animal welfare", and how dairy farmers(as well as farmers in general) "should do a better job caring for their animals" and "watch what goes into the milk(or meat) they ship".
More often than not the authors of such articles have gained all of their credibility from behind their computers in their ivory tower.
Sure, as technology evolved so did the dairy industry, and overall agricultural industry for that matter.
Innovations enabled us to get more milk from our cows, which seemed like a great idea at the time, however the negative effects from using hormones like rBST became illegal for the majority of milk sales.
BUT, the milk demand didn't lessen.
As farmers became more educated, so did the public.
All of the sudden the public wanted to know exactly how their animals were being treated.
NEWS FLASH! Farmers actually like their animals...the animals are their source of income, and what feeds their family.
What reason is there for us to mistreat our livelihood?
Sure there are some bad apples in the bunch, you don't go through life without meeting a few, but that shouldn't ruin your taste for all in general.
"Mad Cow Disease" and "Ecoli", have become common headlines and people are scared.
They suddenly want "organic" products because obviously those are better.
Did you know that the term "Organic" has nothing to do with how humanely an animal is treated?
Sure, they are raised on special "pesticide-free" diets and given specific "organic" medications, but how differently does it taste?
I can convince myself that milk from a yellow jug tastes different than milk from a clear jug...but does it really?
European Union standards have influenced our market, causing our buyers to demand a certain type of milk.
We are moving towards a market where a Somatic Cell Count(SCC) of over 400,000 is unacceptable.
What does this mean to YOU?
Do you, or the general public, know what a SCC is?
It's the white cell count in the milk.
Generally an elevated white cell count indicates infection.
This means that the cow is producing an elevated amount of white cells, which means she could possibly have an infection somewhere she is not being treated for.
A high white cell count ALSO means that she could be in heat.
She could have just calved.
She could be OLD.
She might just have a high white cell count naturally.
This cell count is a weighted average of all of the cows whose milk is in the tank.
If you milk say, over 200 cows, and one or two have a high cell count, then it's mixed in with the other milk and "diluted" out so the overall shipment isn't high.
There is not a farm in our area that milks under 150, because they can't and meet the EU standards...and afford to feed their family.
Can you taste a difference?
Did you know that we haven't gone to those standards yet?
I'm below 400,000 but I had to sell a few of my older cows to get there..cows who were just old.
Because you can taste a difference.
The lady whose home borders one of our fields stopped Eddie the other day and asked if he could "do anything about the dust" that his truck was kicking up, as he hauled haylage to the pit(and me).
"The dust is covering me patio furniture, and getting in my house", she said, "we would really like to put a pool in".
She wanted Eddie to do something about it.
He gave her BossMan's phone number.
BossMan reminded her that her husband cleared the fence row, on OUR side, because it was grown up last year.
He threw all of the debris in our field.
That fence row created a natural buffer from dust coming off of the field.
It must be hell living in the country.
I'm not entirely sure when it happened, but at some point the farmer became the bad guy.
The farmer, who works to not only feed his family, but billions of others, became a criminal.
Technology is making it possible to feed more people, more efficiently than ever.
But we can't win!
People complain about the price of a gallon of milk, and don't take into consideration the price of hauling, the price of feeding, the price of time and care.
Then...then they turn around a pay a couple of dollars more for "certified organic".
Sometimes I wonder what people think...do they ever stop and ask what is being hauled in the trucks through the farmland?
Do they ever think that maybe that's feed for the cows who produce the milk and beef?
Maybe if I sell my cows I can come swim in her pool this summer.
Love and nothing but respect,