February 7, 2012 by dairycarrie
There are a lot of lies, half truths and rumors out there about farms and farmers. The one that I have been thinking about a lot lately is one that is near and dear to my heart. It is such a prevalent rumor that even other farmers believe it and spread it around. Making this one pretty tough to stomp out.
All farmers are morning people/All farmers get up before dawn/All farmers get up with the sun & go to bed before dark.
It’s simple not true! While many of the dairy farmers on our road and in our area start milking cows between 5 and 6 am, not all of us are ready for such vigorous activity so early in the morning. Hubs and I are not morning people. Surly, cranky and extremely irritable are the best words to describe us before about 8am. Honestly it’s so bad that we have made a pact to not even talk to each other for at least the first hour of the day. Now this doesn’t mean that night owl farmers do less work in the day or that our day is shorter that other dairy farmer’s day. It just means that the start and end time of our day is shifted to match our personalities.
Here are the facts-
Dairy cows are milked either two times a day or three times a day on dairy farms. The milkings are usually spaced out evenly in a 24 hour time frame. Most of the dairy folks that milk 2 times a day around us start milking at 5am and 5pm or 6am and 6pm. The farms that milk 3 times a day usually space the three milking times 8 hours apart and the times vary to whatever fits their farm. The average Wisconsin dairy farm milks about 100 cows. Milking 100 cows will take anywhere from 2.5 hours to 4 hours depending on the setup the farmers milk in. FOr those of you not good at math that means at least 4 hours a day are devoted to milking the cows. The feeding, cleaning, veterinary care and any field work has to be done around the milking times. You can’t just skip a milking or move around the milking times because you have stuff to do. Dairy cows need to be milked at least twice a day and they do not like to wait! Now not only does this schedule mean early mornings it also means that evening events that occur before 8 pm or so can be difficult to get to on time since milking is the number one priority on dairy farms. Hubs and I plan on milking at 10am and 10pm when we are running our own farm. It will enable us to attend evening functions and have one less reason to growl at each other everyday and besides, I think sunsets are prettier than sunrises anyways.