The Field Teams
While there are three extensive dairy teams involved at our three farm sites, there is actually two, relatively small, but impressive field teams that do all the work necessary to feed those 3,800 milking cows! The field teams work hard throughout the cold winter to get all the machinery completely ready and lined up to make the planting season go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. However, Mother Nature doesn’t always do her part to help make that happen. Once everything is ready, they sometimes need to just be patient! Which is especially hard for the people who just love that feeling of being out in the fields, on the seat of a tractor! By spring, they are good and ready for a change of scenery from the shop.
Yet, once the sun is shining and the equipment is headed out of the shop, there’s no stopping these guys. They just go and go and go! They work extremely long days, somedays even after the sun sets. Have you seen them out working the fields, by only the moonlight and their headlights? That’s what it takes, to get high yields and good quality forages; so the cows have the best nutrition possible. That’s what it takes, when you need to work around the unpredictability of Mother Nature. When the sun is out and the fields are dry, they just need to keep rolling, until that changes. And it always does.
One reason so many hours are needed are the many steps involved with our crop season. The first step, that has proved extremely effective, is spreading our natural fertilizer, the cow manure. Then comes the chisel plowing, fitting, and planting steps. On our farms, the main crops grown are alfalfa and corn. But we also plant some wheat and soybeans. Once the new seeds are in the ground, it’s almost time for the 1st cutting of alfalfa. The alfalfa is a perennial and comes back each year; for 3 or 4 years. It gets chopped 3 or 4 times throughout the summer and is made into haylage. In the fall, wheat, soybeans and some corn is combined, when they are perfectly ready.
Yet, most of our corn is actually chopped in the fall, when it is just dry enough, but not too dry. Both the haylage and corn silage are carefully packed into bunk silos. Once the silos are full, then it’s time for real teamwork. Every able body that is at the farm gathers on the top of the pile, to quickly cover it with plastic and tires (as weights), so it can be perfectly preserved and used all winter long. So, beware if you stop by the farm at harvest time. You just might be asked to help with this event!
Of course this isn’t the last step for the crew. Lately, our farm has actually been planting cover crops in the fall to keep the soil healthy (and worms happy) throughout the winter; until the next season is upon us. Then, the cycle continues as the multi-talented field teams head to the shops again to get the well used machinery ready for the next season.