Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moving Forward

The past couple weeks have full of activity in finding employment land. Last week I drove an hour to an interview, flew to Phoenix for an interview at a trade show and flew to Ohio for another interview. The last trip was fraught with flight delays and I was hardly home all week, but it ended up being worth it.

In early August I'll be starting a position in marketing with Lallemand Animal Nutrition. I'll be working primarily with the silage inoculant part of the business and will have a variety of roles ranging from developing product literature to coordinating trade shows. The interview process was rather long and extensive, which made me even more confident in the position and company. It just seems like a good fit and I'm excited to get to work and stay in the agriculture industry.

The position means I will be moving to Milwaukee, WI which is both exciting and a bit sad. I've been in Madison for almost a year now, have an absolutely fantastic group of friends and enjoy the Madison area. Milwaukee isn't too far from Madison though so I will still be able to come back to Madison to visit. I've started the process of finding an apartment in Milwaukee and I've decided that I will be getting a cat in the new apartment. I currently have a rabbit in my apartment and I've been wanting a cat for a while. To make things more interesting, the bf is starting graduate school at the University of Minnesota in August. We've done long distance before, but it's never ideal.

Here's to hoping this next position is a great fit, as it seems to be, and the move to Milwaukee goes well. It's definitely exciting!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Creating Dairyland

I have always loved to read and I finally got my Madison Library card, which made me really excited. One of the first books I got was "Creating Dairyland" by Ed Janus, a Madison man who was a dairy farmer for a couple years and writes a historical account of how Wisconsin became America's Dairyland. This was fascinating to me as someone not from Wisconsin, but from a dairy in Minnesota. It's really an interesting read for anyone, but especially for anyone in the dairy industry from Wisconsin or otherwise.

My dad was raised on a dairy farm as well and he has told me a lot about the history of our farm, but there was many parts of the book that I hadn't thought of. For instance, my family's farm has 3 silos that we use to store our silage and hayledge in for feeding after harvest. Creating Dairyland explained how the silo was a huge advancement in agriculture as it allowed dairying to be profitable as farmers could store feed for cows year-round so they could milk year-round. It makes sense, but I simply had never thought of it before. Silos had just always been on the farm for me. I know my dad didn't always milk with a pipeline and milking machine, but he had never discussed the history of silos before.

It was also interesting to learn more about the importance of Hoard's Dairyman to the dairy industry. Hoard's is one of my favorite magazines and I have visited their office and dairy farm. It's been around for so long that  we can really learn a lot about the history of the industry by reading their historical archives.

Creating Dairyland tells many stories of current and past dairy farmers, and some cheese maker stories, and their histories. Its full of rich detail of farm life and many parts of the book rang true for me. I was desperately missing the farm almost the entire time I was reading the book. One of the parts that struck me as this quote about dairy farmers and cows: "Cows require kindness, routine and predictability, and long-term investments for their well-being and our profit. Dairy farmers must be dedicated to caring well for other living beings and for the resources that feed them." - Creating Dairyland, p. 3

The historical aspects of learning how dairy farming came about in Wisconsin and how Wisconsin became the dairyland was fascinating, but the farmer stories really hit me. A wide range of farmers were portrayed from a pasturing homestead farm to the Crave Brothers Farm whose place I got the opportunity to visit in high school to a college student developing a niche on the genetics side while her farming focuses on milk in a tie-stall. There was even a story of an Organic Valley farmer who milks his cows seasonally to allow them to east only grass.

The Crave brothers history stuck with me. The oldest brother talked about how his dad quit milking cows. His dad milked 35-40 cows and was a one-man show and had to be there constantly and deal with huge milk price fluctuations, which was a frustrating way to farm. The story of his dad reminded me so much of my own father - milking 35-40 cows and a one-man show. The Crave brothers now run a 1,000 cow dairy with 4 brother managing the farm that makes its own cheese and has two anaerobic manure digesters.

Creating Dairyland's stories are truly a testament to the dynamic dairy industry and the passion that lies within dairy farmers. It's a testament to the fact that a love for cows is what drives dairy men and a testament to the perservance of today's dairy farmers. It's further proof to me that I love the dairy industry.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Changes

A lot has happened in the last couple months. The biggest thing: I was laid off from my first post-college job in May. The marketing department was going through restructuring and there just wasn't any entry level jobs for me, nor any open in the company to move into. It's been a long, frustrating, up and down 2 months since then of job searching. This is especially the case since I moved to Madison, WI solely for the job that I was laid off from after just 9 months. When I first moved here I knew nobody. Though I have made many amazing friends in my new city whom I'm so grateful for, it's never easy to lose a job in a city that's still relatively new to you and is 8 hours from your hometown.

When I was home, I got to help move these heifers into new pasture. They then proceeded to break down a fence to get into pasture they didn't belong in. 

In less depressing news, my youngest brother graduated from high school and my unemployment allowed me to go home for a week for his graduation and party. Graduation parties in my family are great because it's the one time so many friends and family get together. Almost all of my extended family lives in the Twin Cities area so they enjoy being able to visit the farm, and I spent much of the party showing my relatives and family friends the farm. It was interesting and fun to show them around and answer their questions about the cows. The party was the first time I'd seen many people from my hometown in over a year, and in such a small town everybody knows everybody. When I wasn't helping get ready for the party, I got to help my dad with chores and feed cows.

My 2nd cousin feeding the calves at my brother's grad party
In other big news, I got accepted to attend the AgChat Foundation Agvocacy 2.0 conference in Kansas City, MO at the end of August. I had been wanting to go to this conference since last year and was so thrilled when I got my acceptance email. It's the perfect opportunity to learn about the best ways to advocate for agriculture, and as a bonus meet lots of other great agvocates. I may not know where I'll be living in August, but I do know I'm going to the AgChat conference.