Since June is dairy month, what better time to raise a glass a milk and drink a toast to the dairy producers than right now?
My attitude of gratitude to the dairy people has two parts.
First, thank you for taking good care of those dairy cattle. Dairying is not just a job; it is a commitment.
Milking takes place at least twice a day, every day of the year, year after year. Those cows do not care if you have something else you want to do or if you are suffering from some ailment, when it is milking time, there are no excuses for not showing up or letting it slide until later.
Are you getting an idea of why I am not in the dairy business? Or ever will be?
And it isn’t just the milking. There is feed to make, veterinary services to provide, breeding schedules to follow, all while keeping an eye on sanitation.
Dairying is not for the faint of heart. I have met dairying families and for them, dairying is more of a lifestyle than just doing chores.
The barn is the heart of the farm and they spend as much time there as they do anywhere on their farm, including the house.
When the decision is made to leave the dairy business for whatever is the reason, the sense of relief is mixed with sadness as they see their faithful herd dispersed and the barn becomes empty. The place is not the same and seems less of a place.
So, the dairy producers have my admiration because of their dedication and work ethic. If I was the only milk producer in the U.S., there wouldn’t be any milk, or butter, or cheese, or ice cream.
This brings me to my second part of why dairy producers need to be honored this month.
Look at how those gallons of milk that leave the farm headed for the creamery are used.
This morning I put a splash of half and half in my first cup of coffee of the day.
Then I buttered (our house only has real butter) my toasted English muffin, while my wife had her morning bowl of oatmeal with milk.
At noon, I dipped my corn chips in a cheese spread and after lunch, my wife, granddaughters, and I decided which kind of ice cream we would get out of the freezer for dessert.
Supper was hard-boiled eggs with buttered toast, and I made a trip to the freezer for an ice cream sandwich.
Today was a typical day for us. Tomorrow we will do much of the same again. We know what we like.
There is a lesson we can learn from the problems the egg producers are now trying to overcome.
The reduced egg production is making us realize how widely used eggs are in many kinds of food production.
Almost any trip to the grocery store will result in the purchase of milk and eggs, and we get used to the idea that they will be there because they have always been there.
We have an amazing food production system that seems to be so easy we take it for granted.
Disruptions can take place anywhere in that chain of events that lead to when the food item is placed on the grocery store shelf or cooler.
Pour yourself another glass of milk to honor those people whose jobs supply us with the food we enjoy.
This month we honor the farmers, creameries, and everyone who keeps the dairy cooler and freezer supplied.
Maybe I’ll have a bowl of ice cream instead.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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