Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cows on Pasture

My favorite day of the year has arrived! And a whole month earlier than last year. Today we let the Ladies back out onto the pasture! It is always so much fun to watch them return back outside to the lush green grass. After a little bit of fun and kicking up their heels they got right down to business grazing and then taking a snooze in the warm sunshine!
We do everything we can to make their winter care the best that it can be. The reason we pull the Ladies into confinement for the winter to protect our ground. The pacific northwest just gets too wet in winter, and if we allowed the cows to stay outside they would make a complete mucky mess of the pasture. This break throughout the winter not only protects the grass, but also allows it to get a wonderful healthy growing start. This in turn helps to provide feed for our cows.
It's all one big circle that dairy farmers care greatly for; we care for the land so it can in turn help care for our Ladies. It is definitely my favorite view to see those gorgeous brown and whites on the lush green Spring grass!

Freckles leads the herd

Bette takes off running!

Bookie and Ramira butting heads

Notice Jolanda jumping for joy in the background?!?
Muzzle deep the grass is lush! Jesusita and Anna are enjoying!

All settled down for a nap!
Brooklyn soaking up the sunshine!
Seriously my favorite day! And it was so warm here today, the sunshine felt amazing! I hope you had an equally great day! Happy Thursday!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Robot Tour

When I throw the word robot out there, dairy farm probably doesn't come to mind first. But that is exactly what I am talking about, robotic milking on the dairy farm. We are excited to be launching into the adventure of transitioning our farm to robotic milking. After much discussion we felt it fit our management style and where we want to take to our herd for the future.

So while our start of date is still a ways away we are currently taking the time to visit as many farms as we can that are currently using robots. We are in the research and development phase of our plan and touring other farms lets us learn from them. Last week on my facebook page I mentioned we were headed on a little adventure; that was to tour 3 farm in Washington that are robotic.
Here you can see the collar the cows wear.  I think they enjoy them as a fashion statement!
On a robot farm the milking is done by a robot that lets the cow visit and be milked as she likes. She enters an individual stall, much like our current parlor, and her information is read from a collar on her neck. That information includes pretty much everything under the sun about each cow, but it gives the robot a map of her udder so she can be prepped and milked. While she's being milked she's eating grains fed according to how much milk she is producing. Each quarter of her udder is on an individual take off, so they come off as she is done giving milk. Once she is completely done she is sprayed with teat dip, the stall opens and she goes back to her day. It's pretty much exactly what we do now, just a robot is doing it. Click here to see a robot in action.

A big part of success in a robot barn is the layout and design of the barn. As the cow is free to come and go as she likes, the flow, as it is called, is very important. The three farms we visited retrofitted their robots into their existing barn, instead of building new like we plan to, but it was still beneficial to see how the cows moved through their designs.

It was also great as all three farms also graze their cows as we do for as many months as the pacific northwest weather allows. Those insights on grazing were very beneficial. Part of grazing success is a sort gate the cows must go through before leaving for the pasture. This gate reads her information on her collar much like the robot and either lets her out to graze and sends her back into the barn as she still needs to be milked.
Graze Gate
One thing completely evident on all three farms is how calm, relaxed and contented the whole herd of cows is. They really enjoy getting to pick their own schedule and that frees up the farmer's flexibility. Since we've announced our plan to move to robotics we've heard lots of people ask what we are going to be doing with all our free time if we aren't milking cows. A farmer doesn't put in a robot to not manage his cows, it's simple another tool we can utilize, I guarantee we won't run out of things to do!

We are all very excited for this adventure. But there is definitely still a lot to learn and decide, it almost all feels very overwhelming at times. Without a doubt though we are excited for this future and what it will bring to our farm, our family and our Ladies!   
Happy Robot Cows!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Healthy Start

Hello February! 

Sometimes it take some healthy determination to make a difference. This month I am determined to carve out a little bit of time for myself! After a few months of just feeling blah by the afternoon, I knew I needed to make a change. It's easy to feel like I just need a break, Mama's need a break, and nap time is my usual down time. But this month I've decided to add in a little movement to help my body feel healthier.

I am not a workout person, and things have to be simple and easy or I won't stick with them. So I am simply trying to move for 20 minutes every day. Yesterday I simply carved out 5 minute intervals in between house clean up. One time I walked our stairs, the next I did a few easy exercises; push ups, plank, lunges and squats and lastly during chores I pushed myself at a little faster pace than usual. Those ten minutes during the afternoon really helped to boost my energy level and clear my head.

So after day one I am sticking to it! One more thing I threw in for fun is drinking more water. I get plenty of water every day, in coffee form, so I'm making a conscious decision to grab a glass every time I think of it.

Small changes, simple baby steps for a healthier and happier ME.
Cause we all need some time for ourselves!

Join me on instagram #30x20challenge, we'll keep each other accountable!