September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Such was the case Monday, May 6.
Morning milking for the Tauers' 165 grade Holsteins begins at 5:30 with Dave and MAST (Minnesota Agricultural Student Trainee) exchangee, Wilson De Souza, Jr., taking the first shift. Dave's mom, Darlene, works behind the scenes, checking for new births, sorting out fresh cows, observing animal health, cleaning up the bunk line and cleaning waterers. Dave's dad, Robert, brings up cows from three groups for milking, and takes care of the calves.
By 7:30 a.m., Darlene was in the parlor to relieve the guys, along with Angie. She arrived with the couple's nearly 2-year-old daughter, Ruby. As the men headed out to begin feeding, Darlene and Angie seamlessly took over the milking. Ruby nestled in a Little Tyke swing hung in the parlor.
As they dipped and wiped cows before milking, Darlene and Angie used something not often found in parlors -newspaper.
"I'm so conservative. Paper towels are recycled, too, so why not? My husband tears the paper up so it's ready to use," Darlene said of the box of newspaper in the center of the parlor. "It works great."
The double-six herringbone parlor was built in 2003, three years after an 80-cow freestall barn was put up.
The fresh cows are milked first and last. For the first three weeks after calving, they're milked four times a day, a practice Dave has followed since 2002.
"You see the cows more often to catch any problems. It stimulates production. I see real advantages to it," Dave said.
Tauer likes to have most cows calve from September to December.
"We calve heavily in fall. They milk good over winter, and we get them bred back before the heat of summer. We don't like to calve during heavy field work times," he said.
The cows and heifers are mated to proven sires, emphasizing milk, fat, legs and udders. The plan is working; the herd is producing 80 pounds a day, with a DHIA average of 25,500 pounds of milk.
A 1998 graduate of Sleepy Eye High School, Dave studied dairy herd management at Hutchinson (Ridgewater College) before returning to the farm. Dave and Angie married in 2006, and are the third generation on the farm.
Dave's brother, Ron, and his wife, Stacy, who live down the road and Angie's sister, Kari, who came up from Iowa for the day, helped put up straw, which came in by semi from Winnipeg, Canada. Three people unloaded and four stacked the 610 small squares in the barn. The truck arrived just after 9 a.m., as morning milking was winding down and feeding was finished.
While they were unloading straw, the milk truck from Le Sueur Cheese came to pick up the milk. The driver, Scott Portner, had to wiggle the truck in between the milk house and the semi.
Ron is a regular on the farm, helping every weekend and filling in during the week. He has an off-farm job, but schedules himself to be around to help with chopping and hay; he's also the farm's mechanic. In addition, Ron buys and raises the bull calves from the farm. Stacy also runs a dairy.
Dave was called away from the straw unloading when the farm's agronomist/nutritionist stopped by to check on Dave's alfalfa fields. The news was not good. The fields suffered winterkill from the late season snow and ice, after a warm rain. One field has to be plowed under and planted to corn, another will be overseeded with rye grass, while a third can be saved.
"We'll have to plant more oats/barley mix for haylage," Dave said. "We were buying hay for the last six months already. Now this. Most years we make 1,000 to 1,200 large squares, but last year we only got 500."
He added, "We haven't had any ideal drying conditions yet this spring, so we haven't gotten in the fields."
If the weather held, Tauer expected to change that Wednesday or Thursday. In preparation, he and Wilson put the duals on the tractor Monday afternoon.
While he usually plants 45 acres of oats/barley, Dave is looking at 60 acres now. He'll have about 75 acres of alfalfa after he plows up the damaged field. The remaining 145 acres of the 280 he runs will be planted to corn.
While he enjoys field work, the cows are the part of farming that Tauer likes most.
"I definitely enjoy watching the animals grow up, as they develop into nice looking cows," Dave said. "I like the variety, I like to be outside. I like to keep busy."
"We like to put a quality product on the table," said Angie, who also works off-the-farm as a substitute teacher for Sleepy Eye Public School.
While they don't get away from the farm very often, the Tauers like to go to dairy events and take time for family gatherings.
That's when part-time employee, Rob Sellner, comes in very handy. Rob sold his cows about 10 years ago and has been helping the Tauers for the last eight years.
Wilson spent part of Monday afternoon mixing feed for the cows and youngstock on the farm. The TMR consists of dry hay, protein, dry corn, raw soybeans, corn silage and haylage. Pens are also bedded in the afternoon and repairs and maintenance work done.
Wilson is the fifth MAST student the Tauers have hosted. He comes from Brazil, where he's an agronomy student at Universidade Federal de Viçosa. After coming to the U.S. in February, he first worked on a 500-cow dairy in South Dakota, before coming to Brown County. He'll be with the Tauers until August.
"Knowing about U.S. dairy farms is a good experience. It will help me when I go back to Brazil. Learning the language and getting an international experience is very important in getting a good job," he said.
The MAST program is a great learning experience for the Tauers.
"I'm the one benefitting. I'm learning about the world," Darlene said.
While Dave and Wilson did chores, Robert was busy putting new landscaping rock around the house. Darlene watered new flowers, soon to be planted, and Angie and Kari mapped out flowers plant by Dave and Angie's house. The Tauers take great pride in their farm site and keep it neat and attractive.
As the afternoon wound down, it was nearing 4 p.m. and time to start the second four-hour milking of the day. After that, the family members would have some time to relax before heading to bed at about 9:30 p.m.
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