Sunday, February 20, 2011

Looks Can Be Deceiving

A client called the farm vet the other day to come take a look at his bull. It was having some skin problems that were persistent and the owner was concerned. On the trip out to the ranch, the owner called the farm vet again and said he would not be able to meet him there but the bull is in the corral close to the barn so he would be easy to find. He said if you walk up to the bull and start rubbing his back he turns into a big baby.

The farm vet is not one to get easily unnerved by any sort of bovine but when he got out of his truck and saw the big bull standing there waiting for him, he hoped this was not going to be his last time examining an animal! He climbed into the corral to face the bull eye to eye. The bull stared him down and made a few grunting noises as if to say, "Who are you and why are you in my corral?"

"Well, I have to do what I am here for." said the farm vet to himself as he walked closer to the 2,000 pound animal. The bull did not move and when the farm vet reached over to rub him on his back, he did exactly as the owner said. The bull started grunting happily and leaning into the farm vet as if he were a pet dog. Not only did this relax the bull but it relaxed the farm vet as well! He was able to examine the skin problems and take some samples without the bull so much as flinching. Since then, he has gone back to visit another time and I think the bull actually looked forward to getting his back rub from the farm vet. Here are some photos of the "fierce" animal!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Travelers From Afar Come To See California Dairies

 This week the well renowned World Ag Expo took place in Tulare, California. Hundreds of thousands of people descend on the small, rural farming town of Tulare to share ideas on agriculture, see new products and technologies, and enjoy three days of everything farm-related. This is the largest agricultural show in the world and people travel from all over to attend. It is quite a sight to see!

This year, the farm vet and I had the opportunity to show large California dairies to two groups of UK dairy farmers and veterinarians. These groups of progressive farmers traveled half-way across the world to visit the show and learn about the different styles of dairy management here. It was fantastic discussing the issues dairy farmers face from one country to another. Here are some photos from the tours we hosted.

 We took them to my family's farm, which has been in the family for four generations. We now milk 3,000 cows and are proud of it. I was flattered by the nice comments and genuine interest the UK farmers took in our operation. Every day we are working with a food product for human consumption. Our dairy farm has evolved over the past 98 years to keep up with providing a safe food product - just like restaurants and hospitals don't look like they did 100 years ago - neither does our dairy farm.

One of the gentlemen in the group is aiding in trying to get a large dairy operation built in northern England, called Nocton Dairies. They are facing quite a bit of opposition which is extremely disappointing to hear. Big is not always bad. There are good dairy operators and bad dairy operators no matter what size or shape it may be. It is just like anything else in this world: doctors, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores. Just because something is big does not mean it is bad. The farm vet has clients of all sizes and not one size is "better" than another. There is a place in this world for each style of management and I fail to comprehend why some people try to put a stop to something they do not understand. I wish the Nocton Dairies luck and look forward to hearing the outcome of the project.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Little Travel Time

We are lucky to have family in another country to be able to spend our vacation visiting them and enjoying a different culture. We recently made a trip to visit the farm vet's immediate family in England. While there, we went to Italy to visit some of my distant cousins. In college, I studied for nine months in Italy and keep in touch with our relatives. I am very proud of being American but also have a deep fondness for the Italian culture. It was wonderful to finally introduce the farm vet to my cousins and show him around the beautiful Piemonte region of Italy. The food and wine is always amazing and never gets old! Each morning we had fresh cheeses and meats with a cappuccino for breakfast. The Italian's appreciation for food is wonderful to experience. Here are some fun photos of the trip.
This is the view from our hotel in a sleepy little village.
 Piemonte, Italia
 Cioccolata Calda (hot chocolate) became one of the farm vet's favorite things to warm him up!
 Bello, Torino!
 Saffron infused pear with gorgonzola icecream and walnuts was a whole new experience, which we loved.
 Yes, we stopped in at an Italian dairy near the village we stayed in. We could not find the owner but showed ourselves around and took a few photos. Their lanes are scraped automatically to push the manure out.
 You are probably starting to think we are weird for doing this but it was only for a few minutes and it's fun to see the similarities and differences in dairy operations around the world.