Monday, October 25, 2010

Gramps and Grannie's Last Gig

My Grandparents are the 2nd generation on our family farm. After they "retired" 13years ago they decided to become entrepreneurs and, at 70 and 64 years old, they started their own small business.


They named it Oesch's Mobile Soft-Serve Ice Cream. They travel all around west Michigan from April to November with their pick-up, generator, and trailer that holds 2 soft-serve ice cream machines.
This summer they booked anywhere from 4-6 events per week- they decided that back-to-back events was too much just this year.
The biggest chunk of their business came from graduation parties and filled in the rest of the summer traveling to weddings, company and church picnics, etc...
My grandpa maintains that his only regret is not starting this venture 10 years earlier.
He loves to give away ice cream- especially to customers claiming to have eaten too much. "It fills in the cracks!" is his answer for that problem.
Dairy prices have been pretty volatile since they began the business and they debated about ordering cheaper mix from Bareman's Dairy. They chose quality over profit and they claim that is the secret to their success. The custard mix makes an ice cream cone to remember!
That is why it is sad to say that Gramps and Grannie had their last gig last night. They served the last ice cream cone at our church's Sunday School Picnic.


The never ending ice cream sundaes will be missed next summer but it will be nice to have Grandpa and Grandma around for every family event, baby showers, birthdays- with them not working their tails off!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Politics and Sourghum

We had quite a day today!
This morning our family hosted a Farmer's Meet and Greet with Justin Amash in the Dairy Disocvery barn!
There was a great turn out, especially for a beautiful harvest day- its hard to get farmers out of the field!
About 65 farmers from Barry, Kent, and Ionia counties listned as Justin explained why he is the best candidate for the 3rd District Congressional seat. Issues that impact Agriculture in Michigan (like Immigration, Tax Code, and Government Transparancy, just to name a few) were discussed.

Late tonight the Sorghum Harvest was completed!


This year we planted about 100 acres of Sorghum right after harvesting the wheat in July. This is what you could call Double Cropping. This is a relatively new trend for dairies in West Michigan and it seems to becoming more popular.

Sorghum is a species of grass and it can be used as a substitute for a lower quality hay. We harvest our sourghum pretty much exactly like we harvest and store our hay silage. And use it to feed the younger heifers on the farm. The best quality hay silage goes to the milking cows.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Blog, New Beginning

This spring there was an unfortunate incident with the Dairy Discovery Blog. In the mist of merging several of my on-line accounts, one account was deleted and it just so happened to be the one that the old Dairy Discovery Blog was connected to. Needless to say, I was quite discouraged and took some time off this summer.
But here we are! A new blog, new address, and new beginning!
Remember, this blog is for you- please give me lots of feedback and questions:)
*Below you can read a few of the blog posts that I was able to recover.

There is just so much going on around the farm with Harvest in full swing- I just had to get back to blogging!!
Just to name a few tasks that are underway: Combining Soybeans, Mowing Alfalfa, Planting Wheat, Hauling Manure/Fertilizing, and don't forget those Cows!

Dairy Discovery has some great tours and exciting events planned to celebrate the season!
And this Friday, the Oesch family is proud to co-host a Farmer's Meet and Greet for Congressional Candidate Justin Amash on Friday in the Dairy Discovery Barn!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Alfalfa in April

*Please note: This post was originally from April 2010.
Alfalfa in Aprilfrom Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms by annie

We all know that April showers bring May flowers!
Well, last week we were blessed with some much needed showers but sometimes too much of a good thing isn't always best.
We found this to be true with our newly planted alfalfa fields. We planted 210 acres of alfalfa seed this year. Last week, the rain caused washouts in 2 of the fields that we had just planted and we had to replant 15 acres.
Today my dad went over the rough spots with the Finisher to smooth out the washouts.


And then, Uncle Tom came along and replanted more alfalfa seed.
Planting Alfalfa 2010

This field has beautiful rolling hills! (which contributed to the washouts)

Planting Alfalfa 2010

Alfalfa seed will last for 5 years, so we replant a few fields each year. Total we have around 700 acres of alfalfa that will be harvested for hay silage. This hay silage makes up about 25% of the cow's diet.

Daisy Dog Rest in Peace

*Please note: This post is originally from April 2010.
Apr 15, 2010 11:19 PMDaisy Dog Rest in Peacefrom Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms by annie
Daisy The Farm Dog: June 1993-April 2010

Daisy Dog
Daisy, aged 16 1/2 years (or 115 in dog years), passed away this morning while making her daily rounds around the farm- we think she must have been struck by a car. Daisy was going deaf and blind, but never missed a calf feeding and made sure to greet every farm tour guest with her smile.

Daisy Dog

She was preceded in death by her brother, Kolby, in 2006. She is survived by her many Barnyard Friends and every single person who has a connection to SwissLane Farms. As a tribute to her desire to run the fields, she was buried outback in the field by the swamp. She will be remembered as a dog who opened doors for herself, snatched birds right out of mid-air, and of course as a smiling dog.
On my tours, I sometimes refer to Daisy when I am asked "Why don't the cows go out to pasture?"
My answer: We have indoor cows and an outdoor dog on our farm. Some people have dogs that live indoors and I am sure they are happy and I think it is pretty clear that our 16 year old outdoor dog is happy too! It really doesn't matter if our cows or dogs live indoors or outdoors, as long as they are well cared for they are going to be happy and live a good long life.

Stop Michigan Meatout Day

*Please note: This post is originally from March 2010
Mar 17, 2010 10:20 AMStop Michigan Meatout Day from Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms by annie

This week is National Agriculture Week. A time to celebrate the abundance of safe, wholesome food that we are blessed with!
In Michigan, this week should be especially exciting- the Agriculture Industry is leading the state by generating $71 billion to Michigan's economy and continues to grow even in spite of the dire circumstances in the state.
However, Governor Granholm has repeatedly ignored and even belittled Michigan's Agriculture referring to it at one point as "a tired industry" and by recommending cut after cut to an already struggling Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) budget.
Now the governor has gone even a step further to condemn the industry by her latest proclamation Michigan Meatout Day . This is a campaign that is founded and promoted by extremest Animal Rights organizations that strive to abolish animal agriculture and promote a Vegan lifestyle. It is sad and scary that the governor can't/doesn't choose to use discernment in making decisions and how they can effect Michigan's industry segments.
If she were truly concerned with promoting a healthy lifestyle and diet for Michigan's residents then she should be advocating for a diet that is high in protein(meat and dairy products) as well as fruit, grains, and vegetables and encouraging activity. Not simply singling out specific products. Instead of a Meatout Day it would make a lot more sense to have "Five Fruit Day."

Please take a moment to Share Your Opinion with Governor Jennifer Granholm and ask her to support Michigan Agriculture and join the 'Stop Michigan Meatout Day' on facebook.
We are 220 days away from electing a new governor! Imagine what Michigan Agriculture will be able to accomplish with a governor who supports it!

Food Inc. Falls at the Oscar's

Food Inc. Falls at the Oscar'sfrom Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms by annie
*Please note: This post is originally from Feb. 2010

After learning about the results from the Oscar's last night I breathed a sigh of relief.
Most people watch the Oscar's to see the best/worst dressed or if their favorite star won Best Actor/Actress.
Well, I tuned in to see the results of the Best Documentary, and was thankful that Food Inc. did not win.
Not being all that educated about the film-making industry, I always believed that a "documentary" was based on facts and truths....until I watched Food Inc.
I actually looked up the definition of the term and it made a little more sense to me.
Fact-based film that depicts actual events and persons. Documentaries can deal with scientific or educational topics, can be a form of journalism or social commentary, or can be a conduit for propaganda or personal expression.
Being that Food Inc. has so many half-truths, myths and misconceptions about modern food production it definitely could fit into the realm of "a conduit for propaganda or personal expression."
The problem is that the majority of people are 2 or more generations removed from the farm. So, when watching this highly dramatic and sensationalized film that is very professionally produced, most people think that they are indeed learning the truth about the American food supply.
America's farmers and ranchers produce the safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply in the world. How blessed are we that we can complain about the food on our plate?
This is a great site for getting more info on modern food production.
This a blog about the intentions behind Food Inc.
With so much information available to us we need to be sure that we are getting all the facts from each side of an issue. If you've got questions/concerns about your food, than who better to get answers from than a farmer near you?

Trucking Troubles

Mar 6, 2010 10:51 PMTrucking Troublesfrom Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms by annie

*Please note: This post is originally from March 2010

Probably the last thing you think about, when you really stop to think about where your milk comes from, is a Milk Truck.

Milk Truck Milk Truck

Sometimes it is easy for even Dairy farmers to forget how important our milk hauler/truck is....until they don't show up on time!
And such was the case yesterday afternoon.
SwissLane has 2 big stainless steel bulk tanks that store and cool the milk until the milk hauler comes to pick it up. The plan is for one to be filled in the morning and the other to be filled at night.
Bulk Milk Tanks

However, not only do we have some over-achieving cows... we have a lot of them and they produce more milk than the tanks can even hold! So, the milk hauler picks up our milk 2 times everyday and about every 3 days they need to pick up 3 times.

Well, yesterday afternoon there must have been some complications with the hauler's schedule or maybe a truck broke down- but they didn't show up for the afternoon pick up. This creates quite a bit of tension at the farm.
The tanks are full. The cows need to be milked.
What to do?
We could stop milking and wait- but who knows how long it will be before a truck finally shows up. Or, we could just continue to milk and dump it- so the cows don't get upset and we don't mess up the milking schedule.
We chose to slow the milking down (you know the saying "don't cry over spilled milk" well I'm sorry, but when you are a dairy farmer that is exactly what we do!). We only ended up waiting on the truck for about 20 minutes.
And all the world was right again.....ahhhh!

Our Dairy Queen

Feb 22, 2010 11:17 PMOur Dairy Queenfrom Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms by annie

*Please note: This post is originally from Feb. 2010

We had our annual DHI meeting last week where we recieved some pretty exciting news!
(DHI is a division of Northstar Cooperative that provides dairy farms with milk testing, data entry technology, and many other services that improve herd management and health.)
We are proud to announce that SwissLane's very own #9122 was recognized as being the 2nd highest life-time producing cow for Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana!
Talk about a true Dairy Queen!
She lived a full and happy life at the farm and we are grateful to have enabled her to accomplish such an amazing feat! May she rest in peace. She passed away last summer from complications after giving birth to her 10th calf. She was 12 years old.
Although we

"Got Milk?" Yes. "Got Ethics?" YES!

Jan 27, 2010 5:41 PM"Got Milk?" Yes. "Got Ethics?" YES!from Dairy Discovery at SwissLane Farms by annie

*Please note: This post is originally from Jan. 2010

These were questions posed to the dairy industry last night by the Humane Society of the United States(HSUS) on a segment that aired on ABC.
First of all, being that I am a farmer because I love animals (Cows are my favorite and my dog Trapper comes in a close 2nd)- it is always hard for me to see cows being mistreated.
Watching this video as dairy farmer, I really don't believe we are seeing the entire truth here. These are not the exact methods that we use on our farm but we do dehorn and dock tails and it is because we are trying to protect the cows. If you have followed this blog at all this year- you know we are not farmers because of the "profits" that so many animal rights groups like to talk about. We enjoy being stewards of the land and our animals while producing food for our country.
Most Americans have some sort of farming in their family history with the majority of people being 3 or more generations removed from the farm, it is very hard to understand the reasoning behind some of the things that happen on farms. With that said, I am going to give you a little parable- where I am going to "go there" and compare animals to people...
When my son James was 2 he hated to have his nails and hair cut. He would kick, scream, cry, and fight like you wouldn't believe to prevent such "torture". Now, being a mom and seeing your child in this state is difficult to watch. But I knew that it would cause only brief and minor discomfort at most. Not cutting his nails on the other hand could bring harm to him and others (especially his brother). Same could be said for my older 2 kids having to have a cavity filled. I often reflect on these instances when caring for the calves at the farm. Sometimes, we do need to do things that are hard because in the long run it is just the right thing to do.

After I made my own comment on the ABC website I came across this comment and thought it was a very good response to the segment: