Saturday, November 24, 2012

"We interrupt this family gathering..."

My family gathered together at my parents' home for our traditional Thanksgiving meal on Friday evening. Mom had cooked just about everything one could hope for: turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, rolls, and deviled eggs (I ate eight). After feasting on the great meal that had been set before us, we all excused ourselves from the dining room and eventually congregated in the living room to watch a subpar, non-SEC college football game.

Dad stepped out a few minutes later to check on a heifer we had suspected was in labor earlier in the day. Sure enough, she was in labor and was going to need our help with the process. So Dad, my brother-in-law, and I all scarfed down some dessert, put on our heavy coveralls, and headed up the road to the dairy.

Once we arrived, we secured the two-year-old heifer into our catch-pen's chute and began to help her deliver. The calf was turned correctly and wasn't unusually big, it was just as if the heifer had decided the calf should do all of the work and get out by itself.  Regardless, we had him safely out within a matter of a few minutes. We left the new cow and her bull calf alone to spend the evening together as we went back to rejoin the rest of the family and resume falling asleep in the living room.

Some might see the interuption of a family gathering to pull a calf, chase mischievous heifers back into their pasture, or address any other possible "emergency" farm chore as an unwelcome aggravation.  For this dairy farm family, though, it's just part of life.

A very blessed life.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from Gilmer Dairy Farm

It's Thanksgiving Day, or as we refer to it on our farm: Thursday.

Just kidding. Yes, the essential farm chores...milking, feeding, keeping the equipment clean...must be completed just like every day, but we will take a little time off from our normal daily schedule. Our farmhands are only going to work for a couple of hours this morning, then my dad and I will handle the afternoon milking while watching the football games on our barn's old television (that's right!). We won't have our big family Thanksgiving feast until tomorrow evening, but I'm sure we'll still manage to eat well today and will certainly take a little time to reflect on how we've been blessed beyond measure.

Whether you are going to spend your Thanksgiving eating, traveling, hunting, shopping, working, relaxing, serving others, voting for me in the Faces of Farming & Ranching contest (I had to throw that in there), doing a lot, doing a little, or doing nothing at all, I hope you have wonderful, blessed, and happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Faces of Farming & Ranching

It's good to be back home on the dairy farm after a couple of days in New York City.

New York City?!?!?!? Probably reminds you of that old line, "Country Comes to Town", doesn't it!

At any rate, my wife and I flew up to the Big Apple on Wednesday to attend the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance's (@USFRA) "Food Dialogues" event held on Thursday.  There were three 90-minute panel discussions about some of the most critical questions being asked about our food system: healthy choices, antibiotics, and biotechnology. All three of these discussions have been posted online for you to view at your convenience.

photo courtesy of the Alabama Farmers Federation
But we were not there just to passively sit in the audience. The USFRA launched a "Faces of Farming & Ranching" contest earlier this year, and farmers and ranchers from all over the country submitted contest applications and videos this Summer and early Fall.  Semifinalists were chosen from among the big list of applicants, and then that list was narrowed down to nine finalists a few weeks ago.  I was humbled and honored to be one of the nine finalists officially announced at the conclusion of the second Food Dialogues panel discussion. You can watch a video of the official announcement here.

We each went through an interview process yesterday evening, and the scoring of those interviews will go a long way in determining the winners of the contest. There is an online voting component, though, which will allow you to support your favorite finalist. Once you register on the site, you can cast one vote per day through December 15, and I would certainly appreciate any and all support you can give me!  I would encourage you to check out all the bios and videos of each finalist. After getting to know them, I know our industry, values, and way of life will be very well represented by whomever is selected as a winner.

And in closing, I want to give a quick nod to the farm blogs authored by a few of my fellow finalists:
Thanks for your support, and have a "dairy" good Thanksgiving season!