When I decided to take on the task of writing a new blog post every weekday in June, I crowd sourced topics on Instagram. (Follow me HERE if you aren’t already) One topic that was suggested was a post that shared all the people that we rely on to farm. While a truly complete list would be way too long, I thought I’d introduce you to a few of the people that help us keep the wheels on the bus so to speak.
Every farmer has their strengths and weaknesses. On farm consultants help us make sure we are making the right decisions and problem solve when issues pop up. Some farms do it all themselves and some don’t each farm does what works for them. We have to know a lot about all of these topics, but we rely on experts to get it right.
Crop Consultant- Tom
Tom is a wealth of knowledge for us. He comes out to the farm many times throughout the growing season and checks on the status of our crops. Before he leaves we have written recommendations for what our individual fields need to grow the best feed for our cows. He keeps up on the newest information when it comes to seed varieties, pesticide options, cropping techniques and general information on the cropping side of our business. In the off season, he helps us put together our nutrient management plan. Which means he tells us which of our fields need cow poop and how much cow poop they need. Then he files all the paperwork with the local and state agencies that keep track of that.
Dairy Cow Nutritionist- Todd
Our cows are basically the bovine equivalent of Olympic athletes. They have to be in peak condition to milk to their full potential. Just like a human athlete needs to eat well to perform, so do our cows. Our nutritionist’s job is to look at every ingredient we have available and make a recipe that will keep our cows happy and healthy. You can read more about what we feed our cows HERE.
Veterinarians- Dr Jen and Dr Miller
Every farm needs a great veterinarian. We are fortunate to have two. Dr Jen is our main vet. She comes every other week to do pregnancy checking via ultrasound. When we have a sick, injured or cow having problems calving she or Dr Miller will come out to the farm and help us take care of her. We also rely on our vets to help us develop vaccination protocols and other good animal care practices.
Specialty Veterinarian- Dr Faber
We have a lot of twin calves born on our farm. Before most veterinarians used ultrasound to pregnancy check cows, it wasn’t uncommon to have a cow have a surprise twin calf. Since twins can cause complications, it’s always better to know when a cow is pregnant with twins. Dr Faber specializes in cow reproduction. He was one of the first vets in our area to use ultrasound so we hired him to do secondary pregnancy checks on our cows so we knew if we had twins coming. He also is able to tell us the sex of the calf and is super accurate. While knowing what gender calf a cow is expecting isn’t critical, it does help us with planning.
Farm Accountant- Joel
No one on our farm likes paperwork. Like any small business, keeping on top of accounting can be a daunting task. Recognizing that the numbers side of our business isn’t our strongest area, we work with Joel who helps us to keep track of our farm expenses and income. He also gives us benchmark numbers each year that help us to look at our farm compared to other similar farms. Comparing helps us to see areas where we might be able to improve our farm. It also appears that he may be the only person that exists to not have a photo on the internet.
While some farms use bulls to breed, most use artificial insemination. Many farmers learn how to breed cows themselves, however before we joined my inlaws on the farm they decided that having a breeder service our cows was a better idea. When I joined the farm I took a class to learn how to breed cows, and while it helped me understand the whole process, we realized that our breeder is a huge asset to us. Dale does 90% of the breeding on our farm. He knows our cows almost as well as Hubs and I do because he comes everyday and looks the cows over while looking for signs that a cow is ready to be bred. That alone makes him very valuable to our farm, he’s also great at getting cows pregnant and is absolutely hilarious making it fun to work with him.
Hubs can fix just about anything on the farm. Unfortunately he just doesn’t have the time to take on all the projects that come up. Thankfully we have Tom. Tom owns a shop down the road from us. Despite our mixer truck trying to burn his shop down right after he moved in, he still helps us keep our machinery running.
Dairy Equipment Service Tech- Randy
When I first started dating Hubs he worked for a local dairy equipment company as a service technician. That means he installed new equipment and spent a lot of his time fixing broken equipment on dairy farms. His knowledge from this job makes him very handy on our farm but just like fixing our machinery, there are only so many hours in a day and that means we often call Hub’s former coworker Randy to come out and get things fixed. Randy was a mentor to Hubs as a coworker and is a top notch service technician.
Last but not least is our banker, Mike. We work with him not just to make sure that our money needs are met, we also use his knowledge of farm business in general to guide us in our decision making processes. As we transition ownership of the farm from Hub’s parents to us, we ask him lots of questions and he’s always happy to help us navigate the financial side of the farm transition path.
Like other small businesses, farms are part of a spider web of local rural economies. In addition to the folks I highlighted here, we have so many other business people we rely on. We depend on our insurance agent, welder, truck repair shop, tax accountant, dump truck drivers, milk haulers, DHIA tester, seed sales people, and so many more to make sure our farm keeps running. We appreciate their work too!