Some days I wonder about the wisdom of declaring June as dairy month. A Google search told me that June Dairy Month began in 1937 as a way for dairy farmers to promote the sale of extra dairy products produced because the cows gave more milk from being on fresh pasture. Those fresh pasture days are pretty much a bygone era, especially for the milking herds. Granted, June is probably one of my favorite weather months in Minnesota, along with October.
    My problem with June as dairy month is the crazy busy workload that leaves little time to actually promote and enjoy our products. How many of us have spare time in June to stand in the dairy aisle at our supermarkets and tell our story to the consumer? At our dairy, we haven’t even mowed the grass out front yet (mostly because it was almost under water) let alone invited our urban friends out for a June Dairy Month tour.
    What is so stressful about this time of year? If you are a dairy and crop farmer, I don’t need to explain it to you, but for the rest of you I will give it my best shot.
    Are your ventilation fans in tip top shape for the imminent hot weather? Do the sprinklers in the holding area and freestall pens work? Has the plate cooler that cools the milk been back flushed and checked for top efficiency? Are the milk cooling compressors clean and ready? These are just a few of the things needing attention early in the summer, and each item on that list can easily burn up a day. Some of those things can be done in April before fieldwork hits, and then a final fresh up can be done now. The problem this year was we were still moving snowdrifts in late April.
    Early May around here was cold and wet. Our crop planting was compressed into a few half days here and there and then all-out blitz from May 21 to June 1. The stress was actually worse worrying about getting it done when we couldn’t go than the actual planting. Granted the days were long. We had our share of planter stuck pictures and some untimely breakdowns. One of our major breakdowns was on a beautiful planting day when the walking tandem wheels broke off one of our two field cultivators. Trying to stay ahead of a 66-foot corn planter and a 40-foot air seeder for soybeans with one field cultivator is not easy. Also, we had to send Bry on a parts run, and I had to get out of the sprayer and replace Corey in the air seeder so he could tear apart the broken field cultivator.
    In that 10-day period, we also air seeded 270 acres of direct-seeded alfalfa for our dairy, and 320 acres for other dairies. We cut, merged, chopped and packed 420 acres of first cutting alfalfa, and that went well considering some of our silage trucks still need a little TLC from last fall’s late harvest. We have been out of haylage for two months, so it is a huge stress relief on our protein bill to have it back in the ration. In the 45 years I have farmed, I have never seen such a beautiful consistent first cutting alfalfa crop as this year.
    Joe finished planting the accessible mud holes the other night, and I need to start post spraying corn tomorrow. We need to sidedress urea on half our corn acres yet, and we have a week of catch up fixing to do. But, the worst stress is over. The grass in front of the dairy will lose its all-natural look this week as I’m sure Vince and Joe will get it looking like a golf course. I got the camper out of storage today, and Danika, Tae and Lincoln cleaned it. We may even make it to a campground this summer. I’m not sure I’ll be standing in the grocery store promoting dairy, but I am sure I will be consuming my share while enjoying the rest of June Dairy Month.
    Oh yeah, and The pasture fence needs to be fixed before we let the heifers out.
    Vander Kooi operates a 1,800-cow, 4,500 acre farm with his son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Rita, near Worthington, Minn. Send him feedback at Follow him on Instagram, @davevanderkooi.