Day 30: Grammy

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Today is about a very special woman, my Grammy. She has spent many hours at our house, watching us, helping with homework, and teaching us all about cooking. Grammy was our taxi service all throughout childhood. Since all school practices and events seemed to take place right during milking hours, mom and dad couldn’t get us there. She came out every night to help us with homework and make sure we didn’t kill each other while alone in the house. Whenever it was nice out, she would play countless games of Annie Annie over with us, and catch. She always comes to video tape us loading up the cows and heifers for our club’s black and white show. She also comes out every year when we put up sweet corn. She helps mom cut the corn off the cob and get it into freezer bags. She’s always willing to whip up something for us to eat, and is an extremely good cook! She hosts all of our family holidays and makes almost all the food. She helped PawPaw with the farming and milking, and anything else that needed done. She can garden like no other, and spends countless hours hoeing and weeding her garden, and is always willing to come work on ours too! She grows the best coxcomb I’ve ever seen, and I’m excited to grow my own one day, thanks to her.

She is the best Grammy we could ever have, and we are blessed to have her around. Without her, us girls wouldn’t have gotten such good grades, and mom and dad would have had a lot more struggles of hauling us girls all over.

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Day 29: sisters

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I’ve been lucky enough to grow up with two partners in crime. Two people to play with, to make up games with, and to spend all our time together. God blessed me with two best friends that lived in the same house, and understand all your problems. Living on a dairy farm, having all girls, isn’t exactly like hitting the jackpot. All of our lives we have heard other people tell dad, that the boys will come.

Having two sisters is great, usually! We get to share clothes, shoes, and jewelry. There’s always someone to listen to your problems and understand because they’ve been through it before. We’ve really become best friends the older we get, and we will continue to get closer.

Having two sisters at fairs, has had it’s ups and downs. At times it would have been nice to have a brother to carry the heavy stuff and tell us he would protect us during the long dark nights in an unfamiliar barn. But, we learned what each person did best and made it work. Allies is still in charge of washing, because Livy and I don’t have the patience, and I have to scatter straw since Livy is allergic. We’ve learned to work together to accomplish whatever needs done. We’ve had our good times and our bad, but we always stick together.

Some things we still need the others approval for are what we are wearing before we go somewhere important, baby calf names, and boys. We always want the others approval and aren’t happy until we have it. I’m truly blessed that my patents have me these two, and that I’ll always have them in my life.

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Day 28: miracle cows

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Over the years we have had some miracle cows. One of the most recent would be Dizzy. Dad and I went to a dispersal sale last spring in Indiana. We were running a little late due to the time change, and he had about three heifers marked down to look at. Dizzy was one of them. She sold pretty late in the sale and after a big bidding war I ended up with her. Since we took a car instead of the truck and trailer, we had a neighboring farmer bring her to our farm. After her first day at our house, we noticed she wasn’t eating enough, and she didn’t seem to be feeling good. We called our vet the next day and he determined that she had a dislocated abomasum, which is one of the four stomach competently cows have. She had surgery to untwist her stomach, and her health seemed to decline even more. The vet came back to look at her, and told us he didn’t think she would make it to the next morning. Dad and I took her up to the university of Illinois vet clinic. The vet asked us about her situation and we explained all that had happened. She asked how much we were willing to do, and dad said whatever it takes. We headed home to do evening chores, and received a phone call asking if we gave them permission to operate. The next morning we received a phone call that she had made it through, and seemed to be in good health! After hearing they gave her a twenty precent chance to live, and a twenty percent chance to make it through surgery. They said they really didn’t find anything in the surgery, but she finally was going to the bathroom regularly! We were all so excited! When a cow gets sick, it’s the same as a member of our family being sick. After another day or two, they called and told us we could come and pick her up. She came home and got babied, she also showed all summer. She’s now getting a little chubby, but that’s okay, because she’s pregnant!

We’re blessed to have her still in our lives, as well as such awesome vets at the university that we can count on to help us keep our black and white beauties alive.

Day 27: Thanksgiving

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Today is a day of thanks, and turkey. As we attend all of our family gatherings, I realize I have so much to be thankful for. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and clothes and shoes on my body. I have my family in my life, and we are a very close knit family, we do almost everything together. I’m blessed to have amazing friends and roommates and an awesome boyfriend. I have 150 furry black and white beauties that think I’m the best, and most of them are always willing to be petted and get a good ole head rub. I have two fluffy dogs who are always willing to brighten your day.

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I’m so thankful that my parents chose to raise us in the lifestyle that they have. They showed us that faith and family always come first. They have taught us that life isn’t always fair but you have to make the best of it. The farm and cows have taught us that although some work is hard and tedious, the ending feeling of accomplishment is always worth all of the hours put in. I’m thankful that I know what it feels like to win the purple ribbons and the Champion titles, and know that I took care of my cow and helped get her to look good enough to receive the award.

Although on days like today, chores seem like a pain. Running home to feed and milk before returning to another family dinner isn’t the most practical, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m blessed to have all that I do in my life and to continue to be a part of the dairy industry.

Day 26: Pride in our herd

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Today I was able to help dad with a herd assessment. This means that a representative from a bull stud came to our farm and went through and looked at all of the milking cows. He looks at each individual cow and records what her best attributes are and what her downfalls are. After recording this for all of the animals, he goes and looks through his books to see what bulls would be best suited to “fix her problems” so that her calf will then be much more correct and sound than her. While looking through the herd, they would be a few cows that stuck out to the representative and he would ask about their pedigree (which means their family tree.)

It made me awfully proud that most of the cows he asked about went back to Leann. I take a lot of pride that we have been able to develop Leann and her family on the farm. I baby her daughters and granddaughters a little bit, and they tend to be spoiled. Yet, they do seem to be awfully nice looking, and they carry the Char-La-Don prefix, so that makes them special. I feel blessed that we are able to develop some excellent cows and raise some nice home bred animals as well.

Day 25: sharing our story

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Today my parents and I went Christmas shopping, since I have the whole week off for fall break. When mom and I were in our last store of the day I looked down at my phone and realized it was 3:42! What’s the significance of that time? It takes an hour to get home from where we were and we usually begin milking at 4:30. So, I walked over to the dressing room, where mom was trying a sweater on, and told mom “hurry up, it’s 3:42, we’ve got to go!” The lady working the fitting room counter overheard this, and asked me if we’d been at the mall all day? Or why did we have to leave right then? I then responded, “we live about an hour away and we have a dairy farm.” She asked me how many cows we had, and I told her we milk about 50-60. She said so only part of those are females? I then explained that was only our milking herd and we have around 150 total head of cattle on the farm. She was so surprised that we had that many cows waiting to be milked.

She had a few other questions for me, when do they begin giving milk? Do they mind being milked? I told her that most cows have their first calf at the age of two and after calving they begin lactating. I explained that their gestation period is nine months like humans, and that the two months before they calve, is their vacation time. During those two months they go to a different pen where they are not milked and get to relax and eat all they want. To her second question I answered, no they actually seem to enjoy it, getting milked relieves them. Almost like when I person really needs to go to the bathroom, they feel so much better after they have gone. She told me thank you and get home to those cows.

I realized that I’m blessed to be able to share our story with random strangers and answer any questions they may have about our industry. I think that woman never expected that in her retail job, she would be talking about dairy cows, but it’s always good to mix it up a little bit.

Day 24: 3 a day

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Today I’ve indulged in the products we produce. I had a tasty bowl of cereal this morning, covered in 2%. For lunch mom brought home dq, so of course we had ice cream. And I snacked on some delicious pepper jack cheese.

I’m glad that the dairy producers work so hard 365 days a year to provide such yummy products to all consumers. Not only are dairy products tasty, they contain nutrients that everyone needs in their diets. I’m also glad that there are programs that help promote our industry. I appreciate all the hard work that these programs do to promote dairy products to children in schools as well as the campaigns that run on tv to ensure that all consumers know about the dairy products that are offered. These programs do a great job ensuring that our industry is portrayed in a positive light, and that the consumers are able to see that our products are pure.

I think that everyone who gets to eat dairy products is blessed. They are nutritious as well as delicious. The farmers strive hard to keep them affordable as well as healthy for everyone.