A green house, a red car parked outside, a room decorated with Holsteins-n-cows and a bit of a cowgirl country twist, my boots are by the front door and the South Dakota State University campus lies just a block away. It’s an irony that those words could have described my house on the farm exactly…except the university was 50 miles away! It’s official, a new chapter has begun! My life as a full-time dairy farmer is now just part-time and by no means has my career with cows ended——NOT EVER! I will work till the day I die. My passion for agriculture, dairy specifically and my dream to become a veterinarian led me back to my not so old stomping grounds this cool January. However, with a new zest for learning and a yearning to be accepted into a veterinary school – it’s time to rock and roll!! So for now, my time is split between classes and studying in the week, and dairy farming on the weekend with my family. Honestly, I’m excited to learn more this year and see where my journey leads me!
The past week has been a fun journey already, on Wednesday our herd veterinarian came out to discuss and update our dairy’s treatment plans, vaccination schedule and mastitis protocols. I was especially excited because this was a good opportunity to sit down and ask some other burning questions on my mind as well! On my family’s dairy there are usually two to three people working throughout the day. During harvest there are more, but on regular days just two or three. When there are only a few of us there, that means that we do EVERYTHING. From milking, to feeding, cleaning, to weaning, treating to breeding etc. Like any dairy, there are MANY details involved in each part of our farm. But just because there are only a few of us to take care of all two-hundred and seventy cattle doesn’t mean we aren’t doing the very best we can. It comes down to being organized, communicating, keeping excellent records and having protocols that are followed. Since I moved back to South Dakota in August I have been observing the protocols that seem to be followed at my family’s farm, Watertown Holsteins. Now that I have learned what the ‘unwritten protocols’ are, I am documenting them. That is where chatting with the vet comes in at an exciting time! With the help of our vet in updating the protocols and then documenting them; we are on the road to continual improvement and more consistency. Plus when training new employees, it is best to have everyone on the same page. If we don’t have pages then no one can be “on” them! As I pursued my degree in dairy production I learned about the importance of developing written protocols, a strict vaccination schedule and treatment plans for any disease or sickness on the dairy. There are many, many things that go in to ensuring a dairy farm continues running smoothly. So I’m happy to help our dairy farm’s improvement. From new calf protocols to milking procedures on the farm, each one is like its own chapter. Since I enjoy updating those “chapters” I will keep on writing the ones for my life while I am at it, and enjoy ‘em as this new chapter begins!