There is a song by Corb Lund called “Cows Around” that quickly found it’s way onto my list of favorites. I’m not going to summarize it here, although I’m sure you can figure out what it’s about. I will suggest you go find it, right after you read this! I just love cattle! Any breed! I grew up around cattle and showed steers and it’s where some of my fondest memories come from.
I grew up across the street from a dairy. So I was lucky at a young age I had many a private tour and lessons in the dairy industry. And by private tour and lessons I mean I ran around the dairy playing with dairy farmer’s son. You know, getting chased off the milking floor, getting stuck in the feed bin, kid stuff.
Anyway, it is important to Rodney and myself that we instill the respect and love for agriculture in our son. If he doesn’t LOVE cows I’m going to feel like I have failed!! Our ultimate goal is to have a self sustaining farm one day in the fairly near future. I want Wyatt to clearly understand where his food comes from and how it gets to him. AND the work that had to be put into the earth and the animals in order to provide us that food.
Milk was the first food he learned about, a long time ago. Pretty common, milk comes from cows. But a little while back he took his toy Holstein cow and said, “mom, the milk comes out of here (pointing at the utters)” I was so happy he remembered that, until he said, “milk comes out of the cows butt?” I guess I didn’t teach him the correct word!! So since then it’s been on my mind to take him to a Dairy.
Shamrock Farms was founded in 1922, when the owner came to America and picked Arizona as the place to start his dairy. He started with 22 Guernsey cows and one delivery truck. Now the operation has grown to thousands, like 10,000 head of Holsteins just on hand to be milked. Pretty amazing.
Quick dairy lesson: Guernsey cattle have rich milk better suited for things like butter or ice cream. Holsteins are the most common type of dairy cow because they produce the most milk per cow. Then there are Jersey cows who also produce a high fat content milk but are smaller. Those are the main three most people know about. But there are actually many others like Ayrshires, Brown Swiss and probably the most fun looking the Dutch Belted which totally looks like a living, breathing Oreo cookie. (Still there are more breeds of dairy cattle)
Shamrock Farms has Holsteins. They are beautiful too! You can really tell when you look at a cow if she’s well taken care of and these girls are.
Visit your local farmers. You are bound to be within 75ish miles of some kind of farm somewhere that will take you on a tour. Why is this important? Several reasons.
- You should know where your food comes from.
- You should know how it grows, how it’s treated, how it’s taken care of.
- Get answers from the people who make their living doing this.
- Most big farms with animals have on staff veterinarians and nutritionists who carefully – I mean carefully- watch the cows diets and keep them healthy. These people can tell you anything!! For example why candy is added to the feed sometimes… sometimes it’s molasses… you can check out @heartwoodfarm on FB and they posted a great video about just that!
- You are creating buy in for yourself and your community.
How many of us from south Texas went to the ButterKrust bakery as a kid then ended up making our parents and later ourselves (until HEB made their own bread) buy only ButterKrust???!! This is buy in.
- The more you know the quicker you can dismiss falsehoods about our agriculture community.
- Educate yourself.
- It’s memorable.
- It’s super fun!
I, for one, am so thankful for cattle because they give me my two favorite foods- beef and dairy.
Overall this was such an “utterly” fabulous tour that it was hard to moooove on after we were done.
So get out there people and have conversations with your farmers and ranchers! You will both appreciate it!!