Perhaps one of the things friends and non-farm family members don’t get about me is that I don’t have days off at a time over the holidays. And the cows don’t either.
Dairy Cows Are Not Widgets
Despite how some like to describe farms as factories, we are far from it. We cannot simply tell the cows to take the day off. Come back in a couple of days. Dairy cows are not widgets. Dairy farming is not like many other jobs where you can close shop for a long weekend.
Just as parents are responsible for dressing and feeding their young children in the morning, every morning, dairy farmers have to care for their animals everyday.
The calves and cows are hungry and calling for me as soon as I leave the house. Like you and I they expect breakfast to be served on time and in abundance. In the winter we often need to feed more for them to get the energy they need to stay warm. It also takes more time to feed because we may also need to make sure fresh water is available for them to drink and not frozen. Adult cows can drink up to a bath tub of water daily. We milk close to one hundred cows and that’s a lot of bath tubs!
Twice A Day Everyday We Milk The Cows
There is no getting away from milking the cows. Twice a day everyday we milk the cows. There is no handle or switch on the cows that you can turn to stop the milk from being made. Not milking the cows can cause their udders to swell and cause them pain as well as a potential infection and causing any harm to the cows is the last thing that any farmer wants to happen.
Some farms may breed their cows so that all of them will calve at the same time. This allows the farmers to have all of their cows dry (not milking) at the same time over the course of approximately two months. While they won’t need to milk the cows during that time they will still be out feeding them and making sure all are doing well.
But don’t take this the wrong way! Farmers still manage family time around holidays. With over 97% of farms being family farms, no matter the size, you can bet that siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, and children all share time together off the field, if you will.