God said” I need someone willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board, so God made a farmer”- Paul Harvey “God made a Farmer” speech 1978. When you hear the word farmer you tend to automatically think of the old man in the tractor driving around in the field planting corn or soybeans. Farmer means so much more then what some think. I am from a row crop, corn and soybean rotation family farm, so the image I describe was what I would see every year. Until I became involved with a family of dairy farmers, they introduced me to earlier mornings on the farm and later times to getting home from a day’s work. Growing up on a farm my self I thought how hard could this be, I ride 1,500 plus pound animals, I can milk a cow… I was wrong.
It was around 5 a.m. and I walked into the milking barn unsure of what I got myself into. As the early morning routine started and the first few head of cows come in and they automatically lined up and stood there. I asked one of the guys if they knew what was going on, and he replied with yes they have been doing this a few times and they have a place in line that they prefer. As the morning went on I was getting the hang of how the milking process works, I was moving along as smoothly as a new person could until my first run with a fresh mother cow getting put back into the rotation. She was banded around her hoof and I was not sure on what it meant so I went ahead and did the cleaning and preparing to hook her up. She caught me off guard with a kick to the arm while I was in mid stretch of reaching for her. The guy came up to help me out and he told me that her colored band meant that she was fresh ( just had a calf) and her milk gets put into a bottle for them to bottle feed the calf. I asked why do they not stay out to pasture when it comes to feeding there calf. He said they do get time with there calf but when it comes to the milking they get milked in order for the calf to get milk because , even with the cows that have not had a calf they have to have there teats (nipples) milked at once to relieve the pressure of the milk in their utters.
After milking from 5 a.m. to around 7 a.m. they showed me what they did the rest of the day till the next milking. They were in the process of cutting silage and putting it up for feed, so I was put on a tractor and was hauling silage from the field to the silo. It took a few hours, but we were done around 11 a.m. . The photo to the right is one that was taken before the afternoon milking, photo credit to Elizabeth Stayton. As I was thinking to myself, I thought how amazing this opportunity was, being able to see another side of farming. The rest of the afternoon they had a vet visit for the new born bulls and heifers, getting them vaccinated, and tagged.Before the second round of milking started, a milk inspector came out take samples of the milk that was being produced from this farm. It was mentioned to me that, just like beef, they are also strict on making sure milk coming from the farms to the plant have nothing in them. If something is found that batch of milk would have to be inspected and taken care of. After milking and going home for supper, this farmer I was following for the day was also involved in the local FFA program. They went to the weekly meetings and listened to how the FFA and 4-H programs where unfortunately decreasing in the area.
Before I spent the day on this dairy farm, I did not take a second thought on how dairy farmers could be different from say a row crop farmer. One thing they all have in common is agriculture, feeding the public, keeping food on the tables and making a dollar to keep there passion alive. Agriculture has many things involved in with it, as a young woman who will be into the agriculture industry, I felt great to have made a connection with someone who did something different than I did in agriculture.
Hello! My name is Lakken Park Troxell, I am a 6TH generation of my family farm outside of Loami IL and a senior at Western Illinois University studying Agriculture Business with an emphasis in Agronomy. I was raised with riding with my grandpa in the tractor, sitting in and listening to the farmers talk about the up in coming planting and harvest seasons. On the farm we raise corn and soybeans crops, with a few acres of a grass hay mixture for the horses that I raise. I have had a passion for agriculture since I could remember and plan on staying in with the industry as I look for a career.