Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 7

but if something seems to make sense, then I'll
learn as much as I can about it, and depending on
the magnitude of the innovation, consult with our
advisors and lender or just go out on a limb with
Annie and our farm staff. We've been really happy
with such things as Variable Frequency drives on
milk pumps and fans, pedometers on our cows,
ultrasound for early pregnancy diagnosis (we bought
a pretty cheap ultrasound machine that is very farmer
friendly about 15 years ago and it still works well).
We finally got some feeding software and I am very
happy to be able to track intakes, make diet changes
more easily, and monitor how the feeder is doing. The
company we chose is web-based, which allows me
or my nutritionist to check into the program online
wherever we may be. On the cow comfort side, we've
started replacing our old freestall dividers with Green
Freestalls, which are flexible and feature a floating
neck rail and are now bedding with composted
manure solids. So far I am really happy with the Green
Freestalls, especially in our 20-plus-year-old barn that
wasn't built using current ideas for stall dimensions.
Of all the stuff that hasn't worked or ended up in
the dumpster I only remember the "estrous probe,"
which was supposed to tell you exactly when to breed
to affect the gender of the calf. Along those lines, I
haven't used very much sexed semen either because
of the reduced conception and I prefer the value of
a pregnancy to the value of a heifer calf. Oh yeah, I
hate to admit it-and you won't find me taking any
selfies-but my smartphone has helped me log onto
the farm computer with TeamViewer and see what's
going on when I'm not there. It's also helped me have
a conversation with my part-time high school help
even when I can see them over there texting me when
they won't pick up.

What misconception(s) or myths about
dairy farming would you like to correct?
Even though I don''t always feel smart for having
chosen to be a dairy farmer, I wish more people would
recognize that being a farmer is an intelligent thing
to do. And that GOOD farmers are VERY intelligent
people.
Is farming a career choice that you'd
like to see your children choose?
I would like my kids to know as much about farming
and the business of farming to make the choice of
becoming a farmer or not. Whether they operate best
in the barn, the fields, in a tractor, the woods, or the
office there could be a place for them on the farm to
make a livelihood for themselves. And if they choose
another path for themselves, I think the farm will have
prepared them well for it. Current milk prices make
it hard to encourage the next generation to enter the
business, but I hope to at least help them understand
that being able to get paid for taking good care of your
land and animals is a really great thing to do. That
way if they don't do it themselves, hopefully they will
value the people who do.
Do you think farmers get a bad rap
about water quality-especially in your
area of Franklin County, Vermont?
What are your feelings about this?
Yes, I think farmers quite often get a bad rap about
water quality. When a news flash shows footage of
a tanker spreading manure in the foreground and the
lake in the background, it's a bad rap. Depending
on how that image is presented it might almost
appear that manure is coming into direct physical

contact with clean water. Farmers are also having
to constantly adapt to policies and practices that
aren't always "best" in the long run. And when those
policies/practices change or the unique features of
an individual farm make it unwise to adopt a certain
practice, the farmer is usually the one taking the
blame-not the policy maker. I think it's also difficult
for us to understand everything that impairs the
quality of our waters. In the town where I grew up,
on the banks of the Mississippi and Rum River in
Minnesota, a high school biology club went around
town and stenciled the words "To the River" on the
curb next to all the storm drains on the city streets. It
really made people aware and think about all the crud
that was potentially polluting the river. In a state with
the topography of Vermont, the raindrops don't seep
in as much as they slide off, so whether you live in
the town or the country I think you share the problem.
That being said, I think farmers have the opportunity
to show the public through their practices that we do
care about the land and water that surround us. The
challenge feels greater because, generally speaking,
we are operating larger tracts of land with larger
machinery. I feel like the State of Vermont has tried
to include us in the decision-making process and we
need to speak up as much as we can on this issue.
In the end, like it or not, I think we as farmers will
continue to be in the spotlight, so we need to show
passersby that what's in front of the barn and close
to the road is the same as what's behind the barn and
off in the distance. And show people that farmers like
to catch fish, and swim, and maybe even waterski as
much the non-farmer. I know I do.

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Perspectives Magazine

7


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Perspectives - Winter 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Perspectives - Winter 2016

Contents
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Cover1
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Cover2
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - Contents
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 4
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 5
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 6
Perspectives - Winter 2016 - 7
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