farm

Here's to the New Year! The Year of the FARMILY.

The dairy industry has been struggling for the past two years as a whole. I'm not a usually a pessimist, but I don't for see it changing for the better. That's why all the letters and cards we have gotten from the dairy industry are about preventing farmer suicides and "you are not your business" bullsh!t.

Yes, I know that I'm valuable to many and I'm not my business. I have family and friends. The best thing is I have a FARMILY. Let me explain. 

My definition of FARMILY: Individuals that care enough to buy locally from a real farmer to fulfill their story. 

They aren't just customers. They are people that have reasons or stories of why, they have come to us. We are blessed enough to be part of their story. I can't tell you how touched I am when I get to hear their story. 

The beginning, the middle, and to be continued...

I would love to share some of the many stories I hear. I can't do that without my Farmilies permission. 

So my request to you this New Year is share your story with us. We would love to share with everyone else. 

You never know when a simple story can change someone else life. Words are powerful

Here's to 2018 being the year of the Farmily.

Happy New Year!

~Farmer's Wife Karin

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Memorial Day

5/27/2013: The day of remembrance. I would have liked to have gone to a couple of gravesides and put flowers into place. That was not going to happen on Monday. If those individuals were alive today I'm sure they would understand, one being a farmer and the other a milk hauler, both Veterans. Here's the recap on the day. A glove was sucked into the milk pump, spent part of morning pulling pump apart and repairing. Neighbor needed his hay baled, we have are hay down too. Rain was suppose to come in the evening. It started raining well baling hay. I blew the front tire on the tractor. We went and borrowed tractor from another neighbor. One more field to finish baler broke down. Yes, it's still raining! Hay is still in the field. Three heifers (new moms, new milkers) had their calves. The last calf we had to go find out in the tall grass. She kicked and fought my son, who was trying to keep her in the back of the pickup truck. We didn't finish chores until 10:45pm. It was a long day! But Grandpa would understand why I didn't visit his grave on Memorial Day.

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Will live or will die? That is the question.

This cow was past due and we were concerned for her and her calf on 4/21/2013. Time to go in and check. The calf is backwards. She didn't want to lay down. We had to use a calf jack to help her birth him. He came out and was still alive. He had a lot of fluid in his lungs. The farmer said he won't live. So the question was will he live or die? The good news is Kinder is still alive. He's a fighter like his mama!

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Visit us at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market

Visit us at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market

Visit Woodbridge Dairy Farm at the Fulton Street Farmers Market located at 1147 Fulton Street East Grand Rapids, MI 49503.  

Visit our website to see a full list of products: 

http://woodbridgedairyfarm.com/meat-products/

Building a Duck Barn

The weather has been perfect for this job. My husband, our hired hand and I have been working on building a place to put my ducks. I really think that my hubby wants his barn back, so he decided to put a lean-to on the back side for my ducks and I. Our hired hand got to earn his PHD. Which stands for Post Hole Digger! I dug a couple of holes too! We put the first rafter boards up and squared both ends. Strung lines to follow and the rest of the poles went in pretty smoothly. We then started to lay boards across the rafter boards. We aren't finished yet but this is what we have accomplished thus far. I really hate to tell my hubby that he will still have to deal with the chickens that live and roost where every they please. (which is over top of his tractor). I will post more pictures as the barn progresses.[gallery columns="7"]

Sundays and Boundaries

Yesterday was Sunday and we had someone show up on the farm to look at some heifers we have for sale. Here are my thoughts on Sundays and boundaries!Sunday is a day of rest, a day of worship, but most of all it's our family day! We still do the chores, milk cows, pick up eggs, feed animals but we also like to take a Sunday nap, have dinner with family. I have boundaries. I don't ask people not to come out to the farm but I do ask them not to come to the farm on Sunday. I also ask people to call ahead if they are coming out to the farm, that's just to make sure we are there to show them around. When the seasons change so does our availability. Farming after all is a business. We run our farm like a business. Our business is closed on Sundays. My house is not a place of business. I will not invite you into my house, please don't be offended, I set that boundary for family reasons. That is a safe haven for my children. I have many customers that come to the farm to pick up eggs and meat from me. I enjoy the fact that they love our farm and our products that the farm produces. I also appreciate that they understand and respect our boundaries. Our boundaries and No Sundays have worked well for us as a family farm. We do understand that there are exceptions to every rule. My hubby still has to sell those heifers, but Sunday is still the day of rest, a day of worship, and a family day in my life.

Insurance Quest 2

I have now sat down with two insurance agents. The first one was a local guy, and I liked him. He visited with us and we explained what we are doing and what we needed from him. I try to make it as simple as possible. I have done a lot of the leg work. He told us we would have to look into it and that was around two weeks ago. No call or contact yet! The next guy that sat down with us yesterday, I was impressed with. First, I received a postcard in the mail and thought can't hurt to call. They at least understand we are a farm. I called and left a message he wasn't available at the time. The same day he called back. The conversation went something like this; Me: Woodbridge Dairy Farm, how may I help you? Him: Who? Me: Woodbridge Dairy Farm (slowly) Him: Oh is Karin there! Me: This is. (irritated, thinking another salesman) Him: This is (name and company) you called. Me: I'm looking for insurance for raw milk and our farm. (long pause) Him: I will have to check on that. There was more to this conversation and I was brutally honest to the point of not being nice, but you get the idea. He did call back again the next day with answers and he found an underwriter that was willing to do exactly what we needed? Oh and he came out the same day to fill out paper work and introduce himself. He is what I call a go getter. It was nice to see that drive in someone. I think he actually was okay with my honesty at least he knows where he stands. My thought is that I will have an insurance quote in a few days.

Our cows eat other plants besides grass for a reason.

I have been getting a lot of questions on what and how we feed our cows. Are they 100% grass-fed? Yes, they are on grass, when the grass is available. No, they are not 100% grass-fed.Let me start with this, there is no place on earth that grass is 100% nutritionally available all the time, even in warmer climates. That is why the camel and the wildebeest have humps. They eat all the best green nutritional grass they can during the wet season to store the nutrients in their humps for the dry season. The dry season has grass too but not the same nutrition in the grass as before. The buffalo that once roamed the big grass plains, didn't just eat grass. They roamed for a reason. They would roam to different areas for different nutritional reasons. Some fields would have plants that were fully headed out with seeds. Yes, they ate the grain of those plants. So even those animals weren't 100% grass-fed. This leads me back to the cow.

Dairy cows have come a long way for their ancestors. They have been bred to produce milk, a lot of milk. A cow that once grazed and was just for one family produced only one maybe two gallons of milk a day. Today's cows produce five to eight gallons of milk a day. That's a lot of nutrients leaving a cow's body in just one day. They have to eat enough nutrients to make milk and keep their body healthy. Now we throw another factor into this, that cow will be bred to get pregnant. She now has a fetus growing inside her, giving five to eight gallons of milk a day and keeping her body healthy. She is suppose to do this all on just grass! The buffalo didn't even do this on just grass.

Our cows can do this if it was spring here all year round. The grass is young and fresh and in the early stages of its life cycle, full of protein and energy. However, there are three other seasons that get their turn. The grass is still good in the summer but not as good, because it too is getting ready for seeding in the fall, then lays under the snow in winter. If you followed a cow around in a field she doesn't just eat one type of plant. She eats many types of plants. She knows what her body needs. That includes grains. Farmers don't have the roaming spaces that the buffalo once did. So farmers produce forage that will feed the cow to help maintain her health. But even the best hay forage can't compete nutritional with fresh grass.

Our cows get grass from the pastures, spring, summer, fall. We make hay and grow corn, for them so they can eat during the winter months, when the grass isn't available. They need the protein and energy from both the hay and corn for the winter.

If you still don't understand or think that today's cow can live off of just 100% grass, I will leave you with this thought; A woman, that is pregnant, and only eats lettuce, how healthy do you think she and her baby will be?

These are my thoughts and opinions only!

Insurance Quest

I'm in the infancy stage of trying to find an insurance company that will (1) insure the farm, and (2) cover liability of a herd share. Yes, that means people can own their own cows and drink their own milk, fresh unprocessed whole milk, a.k.a. FUWM. Let's start with the beginning, in Michigan farmers can't sell raw milk directly to a consumer. However, there is no law stating that you can't drink your own milk from your own cow. This is how herd share or cow shares came to be. People are smart and understand the risk they take when joining in ownership to a herd share. I believe people have the right to choose FUWM if they so desire. Desire for this product is one of the reasons, I'm now looking for insurance. Not all insurance companies will take on a farm. Just because it says "farm" or "farmer" in their name doesn't mean they cover farm or farmer. I have called and talked to quite a few of these companies. After that I switched my form of search and went online. Search, Email, and then call. I'm still looking but have one calling tomorrow. The insurance quest is on!

3 words that can make a dairy farmer JUMP!

[slideshow]Life on a farm is never boring but I'm glad yesterday is over. Around 11am yesterday, my husband came in from finishing morning chores. I was standing in the kitchen and happened to look out the front window of the house. I was surprised to see...COWS! Those three little words that make a farmer JUMP are..."COWS ARE OUT!" We couldn't get out of the house fast enough. We ran for our boots and coats. Yes, it's cold in Michigan this time of year. The dog and I went out one door to cut them off and my hubby went out the other door to start the snowmobile. The whole milking herd was out of the barn and heading to the neighbors yards and fields. We did round them all up and put them back on pasture. We had to fix the gate they opened. Milk production went down that night. But the cows seemed to be perfectly happy with themselves. Those are three little words I don't need to say or hear again for another year at least!

"Special" Days don't matter when you're a Farmer!

[slideshow]January 2nd is my husbands birthday, or Today! However, my husband is a farmer. He still has to do chores, cows get milked. Cows, pigs and calves all have to be fed. Today we went up to the other farm to feed the young stock, and this is what we found. A down heifer, she is hard to see in the picture because she was covered in manure and snow. This is how we cared for our down animal. First thing my husband did was check for injury and see if she could stand on her own. She was not injured but was not able to get up on her own. She was wet and shivering, the on set of hypothermia. Our job was to get her inside the barn, dry and warm her. We don't drag animals. We carry animals. We put the bucket on the tractor and worked on safely getting her into the bucket. This was a dirty challenge, we had to put a halter rope on her head and tie her head to her back leg. This sounds painful I know but its so that she can't hurt her self when she's being moved. We then scooped her up into the bucket. The second picture is of her tied and being moved to the barn. This went very well. She was untied by me and gently set down in a pen in the barn. The third picture is of her moving around getting comfy. I was waiting for my husband to carrying in a big bale of straw. I dried her off the best I could, that was a stinky job. We then buried her in straw. Straw is one of the best insulators you can find on the farm. The forth picture is of her buried in straw with water and food in front of her. She is now warm, dry and safe in the barn recovering from her ordeal. Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband farmer. It's his special day, but it doesn't matter what the day is when it comes to the farm. He's a farmer, his farm and animals come first. This applies to all holidays and special days, no matter what!