Friday, August 22, 2014

Farm Photo Friday, 8/22/14

Happy Friday, y'all! I would like to talk a little bit about three photos I posted over the last few days on this week's edition of Farm Photo Friday.

If you were keeping up with me on Twitter or Instagram this past Sunday night, you know I had a long evening. Armyworms had once again invaded our hay fields and required extermination as soon as the afternoon milking was finished. I was expecting to spend several hours in the tractor cab, so I ran home to change clothes and grab a couple of sandwiches my wife had packed for me. Later in the evening and well after sundown, my wife pulled into the hay field I was spraying and hand-delivered this cup of her homemade Milky Way ice cream. She had made it for the ice cream social that was to be held at church that evening, and wanted to make sure I got some. So the purpose of this photo is to mention the fact we had more armyworm problems, but more so to recognize my wife as being totally awesome!

We have finally started seeing a lot of activity in our maternity pasture. I think we have had ten calves born this week, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of what's to come over the next couple of months. Despite all the fresh cows rejoining the milking herd, we are also drying off other cows at about the same rate. Our calvings vs dry offs should stay roughly equal for another couple of weeks, and then in September we will start to see our milking herd have a sustained increase.

We started harvesting our corn this week, and hope to have 25 acres chopped and packed into the silage pit by the end of the day. You can see in this picture that the bottom half of the corn is starting to brown, both a sign of its maturity and the result of hot, dry weather. Most of our fields are sloped and terraced, and we have a good number of "short rows" to contend with (look just right of the tractor). We've avoided any major breakdowns up to this point, but we have a long, long way to go before this harvest season is over.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dairy Good Questions (8/19/14)

Welcome to the debut edition of "Dairy Good Questions", a new midweek feature in which I answer 2-3 questions people have asked about my farm or the dairy industry. Let's get right to it:

DGQ #1) "Will, do you have a favorite cow?" (via Whit Macknally)

Answer:  As a matter of fact, I do: Gilmer Dairy Farm cow number 859. She's big and tall, she's a good milker, she's as laid-back as a cow can be without being overly stubborn, and she never gives the first bit of trouble in the barn. She might not have strong idiosyncrasies like Ol' Number Seven had, but she does have her own spots where she prefers to stand in the barn and isn't shy about moving other cows out of "her" space. And unless she's on her way to eat, she always seems to appreciate a good head-rub. 

DGQ #2) "What's the milkfat/butterfat percentage of whole milk?" (via Josh Johnson)

Answer: Some of the milk in your local grocery store is identified specifically by the amount of butterfat it contains, such as 1% and 2% milk. Skim milk contains only traces of butterfat (< 0.5%) or none at all. Whole/Vitamin D milk, on the other hand, often doesn't give a clear indication of its butterfat percentage on the label. The federal minimum butterfat percentage standard for pasteurized whole milk is 3.25%, and most of it retails at or just slightly above this percentage. Exceptions include whole milk sold in California (3.5% minimum) and some brands of "cream line", or non-homogenized, milk. And while you might not find the actual butterfat percentage listed on a jug of whole milk, its nutrition label will include the grams of fat per serving along with information about protein, calcium, vitamins, etc. My advice is to drink whichever bf% milk you enjoy the most and adjust the rest of your diet accordingly, but do take time to compare labels and choose one that fits best within your overall nutritional plan. 

That's all for this week, but please let me know if you have a "dairy good question" you would like to have answered in the future. You can leave your questions via the comments section on this post, tweet them to me at @gilmerdairy, or post it to our Facebook page. Thanks for reading! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Farm Photo Friday, 8/15/14

I would like to start doing a weekly feature on my blog entitled "Farm Photo Friday". I post several farm pictures a week to my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, and each Friday I plan on selecting one or two of them and provide more of the back-story/context than a simple caption will allow. Let's start this edition off with a sunrise...

I took this photo of the sun rising over the sorghum field east of my house on Wednesday morning after Dad and I had finished milking our cows. I've been taking quite a few sunrise photos lately, and this one has been one of the more popular ones across my SM channels. The sorghum in the foreground is only about knee-high and shouldn't be ready to harvest until October, so I'll probably get another shot or two from this location.

We spent mid-morning working through a big group of dry cows and pregnant heifers. Our goal was to sort out all the ones due to calve before Labor Day and move them to the maternity pasture. Instead of using corral panels, we deployed in a 2-1-2 formation with the cow dog acting as a rover. Dad and Jeff were up front sending the ones we didn't need while trying to keep the ones to move in front of them. I was in the middle keeping the "stay" group moving back while cutting off any "movers" that slipped by them, and JD & Doug were in the back as our last line of defense against cows that didn't want to go where we wanted them to go. After some running back-and-forth and perhaps a choice word or two, the nine cows and one heifer we needed were successfully sorted out from the rest of the herd.

Let me know if this Farm Photo Friday feature is something you find interesting, and by all means tell me if you see me post a photo elsewhere that you would like a little more information about. Thanks for reading, and y'all have a "dairy" good weekend!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2014 Milk Mustache Contest Winner

Congratulations to Charlotte, our 2014 Milk Mustache Contest Winner! A strong last-day surge helped her clinch this year's title with 123 total votes. Charlotte will win a dairy-themed prize package and will be featured on the front page of our farm's website.

Charlotte is the GDFmmc14 contest winner.

There is also a story behind this milk mustache. Charlotte's mother added the following comment to her photo during the contest:
I know you may be thinking this is not a big ole milk mustache, but believe me, this girl can make one of those! This photo makes me choke back tears because it was taken at one of Charlotte's recent trips to the U of MN Children's Hospital... That day we had lunch at the hospital cafeteria and had to rush off to one of her appointments. After she chugged her milk, not wanting to waste a drop, she reminded me, "Don't you know how hard dairy farmers work, Mom!?"...Charlotte is always excited to go into classrooms and read books to other kids about dairy farming and do butter and ice cream making demonstrations. This photo is her salute to hard working dairy farm families.
We want to thank our other two finalists, Treyson and Rylee, for sharing their great milk mustaches with us, as well as all the other kids and parents that submitted a photo this year. And of course, we appreciate all of you who helped us celebrate June Dairy Month by "liking", sharing, and commenting on these photos. Next year will mark our contest's 10th anniversary, and we hope that it will be our biggest one yet. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2014 Milk Mustache Contest Finalists

vote for your favorite on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter

Only three remain in our 2014 Milk Mustache Contest, and now it is time for you to select this year's champion. As in our opening round match-ups and semifinals, you can vote for your favorite milk mustache photo by clicking like/favorite on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (links are provided below). Voting will remain open through Friday, June 27, with the winner being declared on Saturday, 6/28.  Not only will the winner receive a prize package, but we will also randomly select and send a Gilmer Dairy Farm shirt to one of our Facebook page fans that shared the winning photo during the voting period.