Choiniere Family Farm
Home of Hershey, Libby, Viper and Spiffy
Hello from what they say is spring in northern Vermont. This is Hershey reporting…and still longing for green pastures! We Choiniere cows are planning to be out on pasture by May 1st, so there's only a short time to wait.
Older, wiser, but still small
Speaking of waiting, I'm currently awaiting the arrival of my ninth calf! I can't believe how time flies. Farmer Guy says I've maintained my girlish figure and still look like a young member of the herd. My feet are good, my udders deliver milk well, and I'm still spry.
If I were a woman, I'd wear "petite" sizes, and I worry that my small size may keep the rest of the herd from recognizing my seniority. So I throw my weight around every now and then, just to remind others of my standing. I've had to point out which stall I like and which spot in the milking barn belongs to me. Farmer Guy says I'm bossy, but I'm really just teaching the young ones the ways of the farm. Hey, that was me once—a young mom in need of guidance from older moms. I'm just returning the favor.
Every now and then, I prefer to not eat while being milked. Doing these things simultaneously is standard procedure around here, but sometimes I don't feel like multitasking. Guy and I have had a few "words" about this milking-while-eating thing. I also sometimes like to check out what my neighbor in the milking barn is eating, and I stretch on over to take a nibble before Guy gets the milking machine on me.
A gallon of milk weighs…
At this moment, I'm about 6 months pregnant, and Farmer Guy will stop milking me in June. The birth will come in August or September, which means I'll be back in the milking barn in time for fall. Right now I'm producing about 50 pounds of milk a day.
For those of you who don't know: a gallon of milk weighs about 8.5 pounds. That means I'm making about 6 gallons of milk per day. My milk has a high butterfat count, which is good, because Guy gets paid a higher price for milk with a good butterfat count. Other components are measured and also dictate the price guy receives for our milk.
Buying more land and less grain
Guy just added 180 acres of grain-growing pasture to the farm. With this new land bought from a neighbor, he's going to grow more of his own feed instead of buying it from others. He's always wanted to do this, and this past year's grain prices gave him added incentive. They were through the roof, due to the drought in the Midwest last summer.
Educating young farmers
Guy's kids are attending the Organic Valley National Convention this month. Organic Valley / CROPP is the farmer-owned cooperative Guy belongs to—the group that sends our milk to the yogurt makers at Stonyfield. Matt and Hannah were two of only eight high-school students selected to attend the convention and learn right alongside adult dairy farmers.
They'll get to choose the meetings and workshops they attend—experiences that may help them decide if, when and how they'll farm as adults. The convention is in Wisconsin, and they'll be traveling by plane, alone, for the first time. Oh, stop your worrying! They'll be fine.
The healing green
I can't wait to tell you about our first days out on pasture come May! We all love sunbathing. Just like it is for people, the sun is good for us, helping us get our vitamins A, D and E. Our being out on pasture also lightens the work load for Guy and his family. That's one reason he calls it "the healing green."
Talk to you soon!