Some times when glancing through magazines, opportunities to attend events jump out. Looking back, I guess I actually make it to about 10 percent of these events. Of the 10 percent I am able to attend, I usually am drawn by a topic or speaker I find interesting. Going home, more often than not, my take-home idea is not from the spokesman, but from an attendee who shared valuable information that’s probably not even related to the topic. Many times when I plan to attend workshops that interest me, I plan on going, and at the last minute some thing comes up or another priority arises to extinguish any chance of attending. Such was the case last week. A month ago I noticed the “I-29 Winter Workshops; Benchmarks for Success” meeting on Jan. 15 in Brookings, S.D. I asked Laura if this would interest her, and she quickly responded, “sure.” My underlying plan all along was to take a day off for a quick little get a way; meet other dairy people and learn something; and drive a few more miles and visit Johnny at Lake Area Tech in Watertown.
    Well on the 14th, the day before, I got a lot done – more than usual because I was attempting to make chores flow swiftly the following morning. We were in the midst of a slug of cows calving – way more than normal. Over night only one calved. Milking went great and things were looking good. Then, Laura checked fresh cows and noticed one that needed to have her stomach pumped. Due to lack of time we discussed waiting, but I told her I would rather pump the cow now than when we get home that night. The twinkle in her eyes expressed agreement, and in record time the cow was treated and on the road to recovery. Next, we noticed a calf that needed to have an IV. Fluids given this way seem to have better and longer lasting results. Laura started the IV and headed to our house to get ready. I remained with the calf and went over my final list of instructions with Greg. Chores were covered and despite last minute challenges, we were on our way to Brookings.
    Knowing we were going to be late for the first session did not dampen our moods because together we overcame challenges to make this little trip possible. Also along with us was Morgan, Laura’s 2-month-old daughter. Morgan won’t remember this trip, but Grandpa will, because here were three generations headed west on Highway 14 for an I-29 dairy meeting. During the last hour of our trip west we experienced quite a bit of fog, reducing our speed to around 45 miles per hour. At around 11 a.m., we pulled in to the Swiftel Center, entered and were met by very accommodating people who quickly got us registered. The format was different, but interesting. The speaker interacted with the people, presented benchmarks that have accumulated from research and why ideas have adapted or evolved over time. This was followed by discussion within each table of eight to 10 people. A sponsor represented each table and that person led the questions. That was followed by an open interaction of the results of each table. Again, no real earth shaking ideas, rather reassurance that we are on the right road and little subtle reminders that quick fixes usually don’t have long term success. The speakers were very accessible and very willing to spend time with any producers.
    Part two of our trip began as we headed north on Interstate 29. We stopped in Clear Lake, S.D., to meet Laura’s college roommate, Rachel Friese. After seven years of college, she is now Rachel Friese, DVM. Johnny met us there around 4 p.m., just in time to witness Rachel working cattle in an outdoor chute with a digital scale at the vet clinic. Johnny likes beef cattle. As the animals entered the chute, Johnny could guess their weight. Once done with that job, Rachel showed us the interior of the clinic and finally posted a colored calf to determine the cause of its death.
    Next, we headed to Watertown where Johnny showed me three fields he tilled for a local crop farmer. Johnny worked three to four nights a week for this farmer during harvest. It was his first taste of driving a track tractor, and I think he was impressed. The amount of acres he could till in an evening is comparable to how many we cover in a couple days at home.
    Next, he showed me the John Deere dealer, semi trucks for sale and another horse trailer dealer. I think he does a lot of driving around Watertown because he seems to know where everything is located. It’s probably why he traded his truck for a car – to get better gas mileage. Since we were hungry, we ate at Harry’s per Johnny’s recommendation. He said the burgers were good and the food was great. Ashley, another of Laura’s friends, also met us there. Ashley is also a DVM in Watertown. Laura had some pretty smart roommates in college. They provide great support for Laura when she has questions, and I think she is always quizzing them for information. Throughout all the business and noise, Morgan was a very good baby. It seemed like if she wasn’t eating, she was sleeping. It was her first time meeting some of Laura’s friends, and I think she left a good impression.
    The eventful day came to a close as we said our good byes around 9 p.m. I suppose Johnny was a little lost in the conversation with three young ladies doing all of the talking, but a great burger at Harry’s sure beats the usual mac and cheese he’s accustomed to. Knowing I had a three-hour trip home ahead of me, I asked St. Christopher to keep me awake and safe. His help, along with the satisfaction that Laura, Morgan and I had gotten a little get away, an idea or two for the farm, and taken the time to visit Johnny and a few others, made the trip so worthwhile. After dropping Laura off at her house I realized all the effort to make the trip happen. It would have been easier to stay home, but it was very much appreciated by all!
    John Rosenhammer farms with his daughter, Laura Scholtz, and brother, Greg, on Roseview Dairy near Sleepy Eye, Minn. They milk 200 Holsteins and run 580 acres of cropland.