It’s October, which means all the cobwebs, dust and dead flies in my house have now become Halloween decorations. Of course, they have been accumulating because we are having a second summer with vacation trips and extra harvests this month.
A trip out to Madison, Wisconsin, for Expo refreshed my soul. It was like being free and normal again; to see old friends, meet new ones and explore new opportunities in our dairy world. We went from lockdown and cancelations to wide open spaces with masks. I felt like a Jack Russell Terrier on caffeine. Which way do you turn first? Head jerking around in all directions trying to take all the sights in one glance. Everything seemed new and exciting. WDE has always been about bringing people together, networking and learning. The cow show and colored shavings is the excuse we use to make the trip.
I was watching the Red and White show with Mark, Michael and Lucas, a college buddy of the kids. Lucas grew up in the Twin Cities. He was listening to the continuous commentary of Mark and Michael about the nuances of each animal and their placing. He was catching on pretty quickly and was intrigued by the connectedness of the animals, the exhibitors, the audience and the event. This was his first trip to Expo. He was the musical entertainment in The Tanbark the night before.
Mark was looking through the show catalog and noticed the 5-year-old cow from British Columbia was a Colt P daughter. I told Lucas that the bull’s second dam was Crimson, a flush sister to Michael’s Crystal cow. Finding connections between show animals is like playing “Nth degree” on steroids. It seems everyone is connected one way or another.
We had a chance to talk with John Erbson on Friday night before Shakira’s big show day. We’ve known John for years and he would often stop by for a piece of pie when he was traveling through our area picturing cattle. His farm bred this beautiful cow. It was so neat to hear him talk about her and her family›s story. Even though he doesn’t own or show her, she still carries his prefix and he is still connected to her. She closed out the show day being named supreme champion.
Friday night also gave us a chance to celebrate Malt’s victory in the Guernsey ring. Only 20-plus days fresh, this beautiful animal brought home the hardware again for a young family from Wisconsin. What an opportunity for this young couple to have such a big impact in their breed. We know them through Katie and her adventures with Malt in Louisville, Kentucky. I don’t know if this new connection will result in bringing a little color in our barn or not.
Probably one of my favorite stories from the stands was about the winning Milking Shorthorn animal. According to our Milking Shorthorn friend from Todd County, a then 9-year-old girl raised her hand to buy the last calf at a national Milking Shorthorn sale for $300. This calf and the young girl grew up to walk away with the hardware at Expo. You can’t write a better storyline. I can see a Hallmark movie about all the hard work, struggles, setbacks and the final triumph of walking under the spotlight for the chance to be named supreme champion at Expo. Watch for it coming on a channel near you.
 Now that we’re back home, the second round of harvest has kicked into gear. Our neighbor, Jake, says we’ve had almost 10 inches of rain since September. That is more rain than we had in all of April, May, June, July and August combined. It has been a welcomed sight to replenish the dry fields, but it is creating a couple of unique situations.
Because we live in north central Minnesota, our growing season doesn’t let us take five cuttings of alfalfa, until this year. With the extra rain and extended warm temperatures, the alfalfa fields have come back into production. It seems like such a waste not to take this extra crop before we turn over the field. So, that means Mark will have to wash all the forage harvest equipment again, when it is colder and more like normal.
We’re still waiting on the soybeans to finish maturing and the corn to finish drying down a few more points before we can wrap up the harvest. Mark was telling the young neighbor boys that the beans were still in the bubblegum stage when he chewed on them a while back. They all agreed we need a good killing frost to finish off both bean crops. It seems the beans which the hailstones knocked out of the pods awhile back have started to germinate with all of the rain and warm temperatures. The beans are a bit confused as to what season we are entering. It seems everything is a little mixed up this harvest season but how else would we have a good story to share over the years?
As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.