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.