We put it in our cereal. Kids drink it in their sippy cups. It is used as an ingredient in many of the things we make, yet it is something that most kids don’t get enough of. That’s right, I mean milk!
For this blog, I wanted to learn more about something I don’t know much about. I chose dairy as my subject to dive into, and because of this reason I got the opportunity to spend some time with some of my relatives on their dairy farm, Beauty View Guernseys, just west of Wahoo, NE.
I couldn’t believe it, but I learned that their dairy farm is the only one in the whole county! There are only one hundred and sixty dairy farms in Nebraska total. Nebraska ranks as the 26th state in milk production. In 2015, 151 million gallons of milk were produced in Nebraska.
Before I began my tour with Missy, one of my relatives, I met her Dad by the barn as I was pulling in. I explained why I was there and he said “Well it’s a lot more work than it’s worth.”
Then Missy showed me around and took me through a typical day of a dairy farm. All of the cows are fed and milked twice a day. They are separated by age groups. About two or three days after they are born, the calves are put into their own pens. They get milk for about two months along with hay, water, and nutrient-rich grains to maintain their health.
My favorite part was watching and learning how to milk the cows! The whole milking process takes about two hours, morning and night. When I got to try milking, I was shown how to clean off the teats, make sure they’re healthy, and hook them up to the machine. One cow produces about five to seven gallons a day. After the cow is milked, the milk goes into one big tank and the tank is then picked up by a truck to be processed!
After I toured the dairy farm, I stopped at the house to visit with Marie, Missy’s grandma. As I was talking to her I learned that the farm has been in her husband’s family for over seventy-eight years old. At that time, a gallon of milk cost about thirty-four cents, compared to today when a gallon of milk costs about three dollars and fifty cents. She told me stories about when they first took over the farm and how they got involved in the dairy industry. She also shared many good memories of raising kids on the farm and their experience showing cattle in 4-H. Along with these good memories were also struggles of farming and owning livestock. However, the discomforts are worth the joys in farming. To quote Marie, “It’s a great life!”
The one thing I was reminded of the most is the huge amount of time and effort that farmers spend taking care of their animals and keeping them healthy. Whether it’s goats, swine, sheep, horses, or cattle, they require a lot of care and attention. Everyday livestock need to be fed, watered, and checked on. When an animal gets sick or hurt, it requires even more attention and special care such as isolation from the other animals, trips to the vet, and properly administering medication when needed. Needless to say, owning livestock is a huge commitment to make, but those who do have a passion for their animals and strive to produce safe, quality food for everyone.
Shelby Dunn is a senior at North Bend Central High School. After granduation, she plans to earn a cegree in agricultural education and become an ag teacher. She lives on her family’s farm where they raise corn, soybeans, and cattle. She raises and show her own Angus cattle and is active in 4-H and FFA. Shelby is a member of the 2018-2019 class of The Crew.