Walk in a New England Dairy Farmer’s Shoes by Clicking the Links in the Blog Below to take a Virtual Farm Tour!
Picture yourself here:
The alarm sounds, you roll over, see the bright red, blinking number says 4:30am. It’s time to get up. There are others who depend on you, some have two legs, some have four. You put on your work clothes, grab a cup of coffee and head out the door. Rain or shine, warm or cold – your day is just beginning. You…are a New England dairy farmer.
Your first stop, the barn – need to make sure the feed stocks look good and the ladies are comfortable. You have a mixed heard, mostly your black and white spotted Holsteins, with a few cute, brown Jersey cows sprinkled in among the pack. As a farmer, you pride yourself on your well-maintained facilities, which are clean and comfy for your animals. You understand well-rested, well-fed and sociable cows make high quality milk. And that is your job: produce a healthy food source 365 days a year to feed your state, your region, and our growing world.
As a dairy farmer, you understand the importance of caring for your animals and your land. Your cows need good feed to make good milk. Good feed comes from healthy soils. Healthy soils are a result of the time, money, and effort you put towards them.
Protecting Our Lands
Cover cropping, no-till management and manure injection are all techniques that you’ve adopted overtime. Like anything, things that are new have a learning curve.
It took time to identify the best cover crop to partner with the corn you plant each year, but it was well worth it – the winter wheat, which literally grows through the winter months – helps you trap more carbon, and further enriches the composition of the soil. You’re always happy to share with people the fact that US Dairy accounts for only 2 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions, and the industry is on track to reduce emission by 25 percent by 2020.
Using your no-till seed drill, you’re able to shoot your corn seeds deep into the soil without turning up the ground first. This means all the little worm and insect holes, and plant roots, stay intact. This is allowing the soils on your farm to absorb more water, helping to protect against runoff and soil erosion.
Utilizing Your Resources
You know that manure is a resource, not a waste product. It’s a good thing your cows make a lot of it. That manure, rich in nutrients, is the perfect fertilizer for your fields. Using your manure injector and drag line – you can send that fertilizer right into the soil where the corn plants need it most. It’s helping you reduce your truck traffic, and it’s locking the manure right into the soil – preventing runoff into local waterways. In fact, your industry, the dairy industry, has reduced the carbon footprint of milk by 63 percent over recent decades.
Speaking of water, most New Englanders don’t realize it, but dairy farmers across the country have reduced the amount of water it takes to produce a gallon of milk by 65 percent since 1944. Year after year, as science and technology have advanced, dairy farmers become more efficient. You know the best ways to care for your cows to get their best production. They are a part of your family and you work to give them the best environment as possible.
This is the life of a New England dairy farmer, early mornings and late nights. Days are filled with caring for cows, getting into fields to plant and harvest, maintaining facilities and machinery and much more. It’s a demanding job, there are forces outside of your control, but you take pride in what you do. You take those challenges head on. You’re a dairy farmer – it’s in your blood, your soul and your heart.
When it comes to feeding people, you believe it’s nothing to take lightly. Here in New England, you’ve got one of the few foods that can be produced year-round that contains nutrients many do not get enough of – protein, calcium, vitamin D and much more. It’s sustainable farming for a sustainable world.
Want to step into a farmer’s shoes?
Check out our interactive Virtual Reality Farm Tours to see how New England Dairy Farmers care for their cows, protect our environment, and produce healthy, wholesome foods for our growing world.