Sunday, November 23, 2014


Even the loud hum of the engine couldn't silence the thoughts spinning through my head on this particular November evening. The big blue farm truck had no radio to distract me as I whizzed down the interstate, late to yet another meeting. The meeting was followed by errands and I found myself gripping the steering wheel a little tighter each time I got in the truck. It wasn't until my last stop that I looked down and smiled when I took the keys out of the ignition. As my white knuckles let go of the wheel, I remembered another ordinary day that started with good intentions. About 5 years ago, a more naive and less weathered version of myself was running similar errands in this same truck. I, as per habit, locked the truck and darted in the store to pick up some farm supplies. Without finding what I needed I strolled back to the truck and was befuddled to find that the key I had just taken out of the ignition didn't fit the lock. mistaking that this was indeed the vehicle I had been driving.
How many blue farm trucks were in the parking lot of Tractor Supply? 
To my shock, I was informed on the phone moments later by my husband that some vehicles have separate keys for the ignition and the door locks. 

I only had one key. 

How often do I feel that way in life. 
I don't have the right key for this problem, this day, this week.
It was in this moment 5 years later, in the middle of a parking lot, that I realized the real problem is that I locked the door.

While I wish I always had the right key, knew the right answer or had enough time, I am realizing more and more often the key to happiness could be found if I didn't lock myself out of it.

Life as a dairy farmer has taught me a lot of things, but true happiness has been the best lesson of them all. 

Would I like more time off? Of course.
Would I like to never see another animal get sick? More than anything.
Would I like to drive a brand new truck? A radio would be nice.

But the truth is that some of those things may never be in store for me.


I know plenty of places where the door is always open, and happiness is waiting for me inside.

The barn at dawn

A brief visit to paradise

Wonder in unlikely places

A walk with Papaw

A helper when the bags are heavy

Lunch on a cold day

When dairy farmers go to town

A friend in the midst of chaos

Heat on a cold night

Farmers beach


Having a little fun


"There is no key to happiness, the door is always open."
Mother Teresa

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meet and Greet- Robot Style

I just shared this post on Proud to Dairy! I thought you all might enjoy reading it too! Hope everyone's week is off to a great start!

"The saying with robot barns goes like this...
3 days = No sleep
3 weeks= They kind of know what's going on
3 months= Things are rolling along

My version would go something like this...
3 days = Coffee!!!
3 weeks = I guess this is going okay?
3 months= Yes, the fetch list is short!

This week marks 3 months since we moved into the new barn so I thought you all might enjoy an update.  

The general stats are something like this:

Milking Cows - 160
Milkings/ Cow/ Day - 3.2
Milk Production - Up 12 lbs/ Cow/ Day
Fetching - 3 times a day with mostly fresh cows under 14 days, they seem to get the hang of it after that. Otherwise there are about 5-7 cows to fetch herd wide, they are usually the same culprits.

While the timeline has not felt so cut and dry to those of us working in the barn everyday, when you take a step back it is easy to realize how much progress has been made in just a few short months. 
We are beginning to freshen several cows back in and you realize how much easier things will continue to get. 

The fresh heifers do require some time, but don't they always? The good news is they love the grain and often sneak back in when were not looking to see if they can get some more. 

With all that being said, I'd like to introduce you to the lovely ladies who are paying for all that fresh red paint! "

Meet 1997. First calf heifer and lover of the cow brush.
64 days in milk, 85 lbs of milk, visiting the robot 2.4 times/ day with no assistance.

Meet 1515. Oldest cow in the herd.
400 days in milk, 55 lbs of milk, visiting the robot 2 times / day with occasional fetching.

Meet 1863. Troublemaker.
130 days in milk, 121 lbs of milk, visiting the robot 4.4 times/ day with no assistance.

Meet 1880. Loves pampering.
205 days in milk, 99 lbs of milk, visiting the robot 4.3 times/ day with no assistance.

Meet 1622. Gentle girl.
20 days in milk, 111 lbs of milk, visiting the robot 3.4 times/ day with occasional fetching.

Meet Bandit. Lazy dog.
Terrified of the robots.

Meet 1755. Chubby lady.
10 days in milk, 100 lbs of milk, visiting the robot 3 times a day being fetched every time.
In the past few days she often will be waiting by the robot when someone arrives and walks right in without being touched.

Meet Junie. My buddy and lover of buckets.
34 days in milk, 87 lbs of milk, visiting the robot 4 time a day even after a bout with ketosis and a DA. She also has 4 "refusals" a day, meaning she comes to the robot too early 4 other times besides her 4 milkings. 

Meet 2010. Shy girl.
89 days in milk, 80 lbs of milk, has never been to the robot voluntarily. 
We fetch her 3 times every day and love her anyway.

Meet 1921. The wild one.
261 days in milk, 69 lbs of milk. 3.3 visits to the robot per day.
With the exception of this photo, I have never even seen this cow since start up.
She prefers her space and obeys the rules, fine by me.