Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Dairy Down


I spent some time last week at a former dairy farm. It is so sad to see a productive farm stop doing what it does best. This place once was home to 120 head. It had just the right amount of pasture and the proper fencing and all the necessary buildings to accommodate 120 cows.

Adding to the sadness was that two out buildings were severely damaged during the 2007 storm. One was collapsed entirely and another lost its roof entirely leaving bare rafters exposed to the weather. There were portions of other roofs that had been damaged but are still repairable if someone were so inspired before more of it blows off in the next storm. There were some rotten posts that could be repaired before the remaining roof line sags even more.

There used to be four dairy farms on the road I live on when I first moved here; now there is one. I fully understand why dairy farms fail. Not only are they expensive to run but they are a lot of work. There are all sorts of regulations to burden. Did you know that if you have a dairy you may not keep chickens at the same time? So much for agricultural diversity.

When signing up to be a dairy farmer, you sign away any hopes for a vacation or a sick day unless your operation is large enough to have employees. You become adept at repairing vital equipment with bailing twine and duct tape. You develop an eye where you can spot potential trouble from a thousand feet away with a cow by the way she chews or stands.

Dairy farmers have to know about veterinary sciences, weather, grass, feed, hay and silage. They have to be mechanics, engineers and building maintainers and heavy equipment operators. They have to know sewer and waste water management. I know that is a lot to ask of any one that has a calling to make sure your kid has milk with their corn flakes.

Please stop and think when you are at the market buying milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream. Consider the family that is committed to ushering the cows in and out of the milking parlor twice a day. Also be aware that if you buy your dairy products from a local creamery you are supporting the local dairy industry. The Tillamook Dairy does not accept milk with any growth hormones in it. That’s another good thing to consider.

11 Comments:

Blogger darev2005 said...

I can see a day coming when they will have regulated real milk out of existence. Legal milk, anyway. Milkleggers? Milkmills? Milkshine? Milkrunners. Real white lightning. Whole milk in canning jars coming through tunnels under the canadian border. Cream? get outta here! Who are you, Rockefeller? I'm gonna buy a cheap caddy and soup up the engine and put in a refrigeration unit in the trunk. When the day comes, I'll be ready.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Tango said...

lol, Darev!

....and why can't the keep chickens also?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

I hear ya...I used to work at a mixed animal vet in Oregon and saw the closing of most of the dairies in the area. Funny, I have never had milk direct from the dairy, though...but remember Tillamook Dairy milk...and HaHaMeow, Darev2005, need someone to ride shotgun in that caddy?

10:22 AM  
Blogger Tango said...

Hi Teri :)

10:47 AM  
Blogger Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Hi Tango...I'd take a ride in the Evil Twin as a close second to the Milkshine Caddy...

11:48 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

Guy, do you have details of what happened to the dairy farms which failed? I wonder if they actually failed or if there were other factors such as the owners retiring and not having anyone to take over operations. This has happened to many small farms across the country--kids grow up and move away rather than taking over the family business.

I've always had a bit of a fascination with the farming life. Sad to say there isn't a single farm left in the county I live in, with the exception of a reproduction colonial farm, privately owned but part of the National Park Service: Claude Moore Colonial Farm Pave paradise, put up a farm museum.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooo..Ooo!! Reminds me of an udder story!! Went to the fair with my ex. Things were not going that well. We get to the chicken display and there is this rooster there having his way with the chickens. A lot. Ex nudges me and says, wow...pretty good eh. Bet you can't do that. Next up, the pig display and yep - lots of multiple orgasms there too. Once again...nudge nudge. Bet you can't do that. Finally...the cow display. WOW...that bull mates several times a day!! Nudge nudge. So I answer...yeah...but I bet it's not with the same cow.

Funny...things steadily went downhill from there. Encourage me Auntie...

Moose

2:23 PM  
Blogger Uncle Walt said...

{snort!} ROFLMAO

8:30 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, it's nearly already illegal.

Tango, I have no idea, it isn't like chickens are dirtier than cows.

Terri, where did you live out here?

Rich, it's the thing where it takes more and more to make a living. These farms couldn't grow so they died.

Moose, Still enjoying being Divorced?

10:06 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Whenever possible, we purchase Tillamook. That is almost always possible around here because it's so close. The quality of dairy milk when it goes out of family hands is dubious, and this I opine because of an email my friend sent me from the high desert complaining that something was "wrong" with the milk, and that they have ended up dumping gallons of it long before its sell by date, not just with one brand or store, either.

I am downright paranoid of growth hormones, having seen far too many girls developing as early as the second grade. Gotta watch that stuff.

7:40 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

That is a healthy fear.

6:16 AM  

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