Congratulations to Shawna on winning Birdie. The judges, Bob & Becky Boltmann, really connected with the interview and story of a Darigold producer, as they produce milk to sell to a co-op. Also,Jay Lancaster sold to Darigold for many years, but more than that, could really connect with the tales of cows and time spent in the barn, particularly this phrase:
“ SR-What do you feel will get you the highest milk production?
TS-Green grass, and a happy attitude. I talked to my girls, after all we did spend countless hours together each and every day. There is no day off in the dairy world, and I enjoyed every moment of it.”
And to reassure everyone, we did spend countless hours pouring over the applications, bothering some of the applicants by asking further questions, to try to make the best decision as to where Birdie would fit in. There were several qualified applicants, the decision was difficult and we wish there were several calves to share! Thanks again to all who participated!
Below is Shawna’s winning entry and the other entries that Shawna entered:
Interview with Ted S., my Great Uncle and Retired Dairy Farmer By Shawna R.
The crisp winter air nipped at our noses as we made our way to the parlor. My heart nearly explodes with joy as I lock eyes with what quickly became my favorite cow, a doe eyed Jersey! It was this moment I prayed that God would show me the path to starting each and every day with this and gave purpose for my application of being awarded that beautiful little Birdie. I suppose you can say that dairy is in my blood, however a milk cow at our old ranch home, we have not! My ultimate goal is to raise my family and stock with the blessings of her milk while creating a farm and lifestyle the way God intended.
As a young girl in Idaho, I would BEG my folks to allow me to go to my Great Uncles dairy each winter break. A perfect little dairy with 12 stalls set at eye level, concrete and heat… oh to dream this as mine is not a dream that has ever left my mind! Each winter vacation I would go visit, excitedly waiting twice daily for the Three o’clock hour in which I would almost run to gather up the milk cows. I use the word almost as running in full coveralls, and galoshes over boots, well… I don’t have to tell you how nimble you don’t feel! To this day you can see my uncles eyes light up as he re-caps the story of this brave little girl who never batted an eye with a feisty cow, nor hesitated one second to reach in for a calf!
“Schmidts Dairy Puts You In A Good Mooooooo’d” You read on the barn as you enter the property. This farm originated from my Great Grandparents in the little town of Greencreek, Idaho. Great Grandmother Zita Schmidt is a saint, as that farm was started with a brood of 17 children! This dairy was operational until the last few years when the price of transporting milk for one dairy in this small rural town added to the 50 elapsed years since the youngest boy of 17 kids took over the Dairy. This equation made retirement look all the more delightful. Retirement is a funny word for a farmer, as after that many years of a twice a day three o’ clock date with your cows, you don’t just start sleeping in until noon.
SR-Do you have a favorite breed of cow, and why?
TS-I am always a fan of the Jersey and the Brown Swiss, as they are by far the most friendly and least apprehensive to load in the milk stalls.
SR-How long do dairy cows stay in your herd?
TS- They stay as long as they are producing healthy milk and healthy calves; some do better than others, but there is really no set timeline.
SR- What is your most lasting memory on the Dairy?
TS- (I was re-capped the story above) to be in total truth each calf born has its own special place in my heart.
SR-Would you have done anything different?
TS- Laughing, No.
SR-What do you feel is the biggest challenge to managing a Dairy Farm?
TS-Once you are a larger scale, managing 100 cows for example, you are challenged for a vacation from that life. Even to just go camping would often end up as a day trip somewhere with the kids as milking is an enormous responsibility to handle. As they grew my boys and the neighbor boy would come and be a backup for the farm.
SR-What advice would you have for a future dairy farmer?
TS- Do as much as you can on your own, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to make decisions, especially concerning your animals. It’s not always easy but it’s the way of life and you already know what to do.
SR-What would you say would be the ideal number of milk cows?
TS- 80 was a good number, I ran up to 120, but 80 was a good cap.
SR-Do you have words of caution that I should know of managing a dairy cow?
TS- Keep your cows first, happy and healthy at all times and she will be good to you.
SR-What do dairy farmers do to ensure safe milk?
TS- We were blessed to have a seamless operation that went from cow to storage. There were no buckets to carry, except for the bottles of milk to the calves that we kept separate.
SR-Are your cows given rBGH or any type of synthetic hormone? Vaccinations?
TS- I supplied for Dairygold, and the rBGH is not an option, not that I would do that to my cows anyways. Those girs gave me all they had each and every time. In fact at one time I had a big Holstein that would give 11 gallons of milk. Yes, 11. What more could you expect her to produce. Vaccinations, those were on a cycle for healthy cows and babies.
SR-Are your cows fed anything else besides grass, hay and grass silage? Grazing?
TS-We did a silage daily plus when the time allowed, grazing. We grow our own hay so they got a very constant diet.
SR-What do you feel will get you the highest milk production?
TS-Green grass, and a happy attitude. I talked to my girls, after all we did spend countless hours together each and every day. There is no day off in the dairy world, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
SR-Is there a certain mineral or feed that you feel boosts the animals confirmation or milk production?
TS- Water would be the first thing I could think of and rest, each cow had her spot to lie comfortably warm and dry. Managing your cows comfort will get you more milk than any supplement. (We once got in trouble as kids for riding the cows!)
SR-Why are dairy farms getting bigger?
TS- If you already milk 10, milk 50 – there is more milk and buying power if you are outsourcing it. We got to a position that there was only one other small dairy up here on the prairie, as soon as they retired, I knew that was my time. I am happy and at peace with that decision, but they don’t make it easy on the small farmers. From buying supplies for your milk cows to the fields, everything is more affordable the more you are buying.
SR-Who would you recommend me to get in contact with as a resource on a home dairy?
TS- You always have my number and getting in a Dairy cattle association or club is a wealth of first hand advice.
Recipe By Shawna R.
Here is what I did!
2 Large Muffin Tins – I greased each with some coconut oil
Line tins with one slice of shaved ham (or meat of your choice) I suppose you could use pastry as well.
Onions (you could sauté them first for an extra POP in flavor!)
Super Greens: Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard – Chopped fine
Egg, beaten and distributed evenly to taste – I like 1 egg per three spots.
Cottage Cheese, Homemade fresh is best!
Mozzarella – I don’t always add this one, oh yes I do!
Salt and Pepper to taste – Our family loves the taste of Johnnys Seasoning on top once they are baked!
Bake in the oven 20 minutes at 350. Enjoy!
What I like best is to prepare them in advance for a low maintenance breakfast for company. Delicious cold, I made them during garden/canning season when I am overwhelmingly busy and with the above ingredients in abundance! They freeze nice, and thaw out great for snacks on a mountain road trip adventure with the family!
Hence the name “Breakfast Treats” and Oh so Healthy!!
Milk in the Bible By Shawna R.
Milk in the Bible, what does it tell us? We all know that with little milk you savor each drop, and with a lot – you are a sudden cheesemaker and friend to anyone you know.
That brings me to this passage in the bible under:
And because of the abundance of milk that they give, he will eat curds, for everyone who is left in the land will eat curds and honey.
This line in the bible, read as it is really can summarize the blessing of milk stock in our life. The milk we drink from the cow not only can nourish our bodies but heal the soul with each delightful drink.
This passage starts as a man takes under his care two sheep and a calf. As we look more in depth at the scripture above, we search for Gods message. God gave us this life to be stewards of this creation we call earth. We are here to protect one another, the land and each living creature. Just as God takes care of us, we take care of him by living as he created us. A simple act of caring for a small calf, to reach out to a living being with intention to ensure she is safe and healthy revealed Gods endless gifts in return. Her milk is a miracle, a true gift from God as it not only feeds us but allows us to then provide for others and aid in the additional production of food. This small calf was nurtured as God does for us, to grow strong and to provide for those around her so they too can flourish. It’s simply one of God’s most perfect lessons one could take from the bible.