I spent most of last week at World Dairy Expo. Some people go to expo to see the fancy cows in the shows. Others make the trip to learn about the newest trends and technologies in the trade show. For me, expo is about the people. World Dairy Expo truly is where the dairy industry meets and there is no other time when so many of my dairy friends are together in one place.
In essence, I go to expo to catch up. I was joking with some of my Minnesota dairy friends - one of whom is practically a neighbor - that we have to drive six hours to see each other. Sure, there are opportunities to catch up here in our own state, but we don't always take advantage of them. For my dairy friends from other states, expo is often our only opportunity to see one another.
Amongst the reunions and meetings and socials at expo, the Dairy Girl Networking Event has quickly become my favorite gathering. The level of excitement, the depth of conversation, the tasty hors d'oeuvres, and, mostly, the brilliant women who attend all combine to create an unforgettable evening.
In all, Dairy Girl Network had an unforgettable week. Our first-ever annual meeting was held, at which our articles of incorporation were approved. Once filed, Dairy Girl Network will be an official non-profit organization. We also held our first-ever press conference to introduce our new president, new sponsors and new program areas. Again, if you'd like to be a member of Dairy Girl Network, send me an E-mail.
World Dairy Expo is oftentimes the only opportunity I have to catch up with another group of people who are very important to me - Dairy Star readers. My main reason for being at expo is working in Dairy Star's booth. But visiting with readers can hardly be called work. If you were one of the folks at expo who made a point to visit, thank you for your time, your questions and your kind comments.
After several of the readers I chatted with asked about the end result of Glen's dad's trial with the Department of Natural Resources, I realized that I forgot to provide an update. Here are updates on that story and a few others.

State of Minnesota vs. Frericks - July 14, 2014
Glen's dad, Vern, was supposed to appear in court on Aug. 4, 2014. That hearing was postponed because the judge requested photos of the cleared ditches and brush piles before proceeding. The DNR office claimed that it wasn't possible to get close enough to the ditches to take photos. Vern and I drove right up to the brush piles with my van. I took a dozen pictures, and we presented them to the county attorney during a meeting in early September. In short, I got the impression that the county attorney agreed with my initial assessment that the entire trial was a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars and his time. The judge dismissed the case in October.

Becoming a farmer - March 14, 2015
This column was about Monika's love for dairy cows and the signs that she has already become a little farmer. Monika's capability in the barn continues to grow. She's graduated to milking more cows than just the pets and her independence increases almost daily. The weekend before expo, Monika was helping us with evening milking when she said, "Don't come in here (into the stall). I'm going to do it myself." And then she proceeded to put the milker on Gem all by herself. In the past, either Glen or I had always helped hold the milker while she attached the cups. And when Gem was done, she repeated her statement of independence, took the milker off and hung it up all by herself. Glen figures we've got about six years left before we get kicked out of the barn - that's when Monika will be able to reach the pipeline.

Please don't spray the milkweed - June 13, 2015
To my great delight, my concerns about milkweed populations turned out to be somewhat unfounded. Milkweed plants popped up in most of the places we found them last year; their emergence was just a little later. The ideal growing conditions that gave us record crop yields also benefitted the milkweed. Milkweed stands remained healthy and blight-free long into the summer. As a result, the monarch population on our farm flourished as well. Based on the number of monarchs that clustered in the pasture's oak trees during the start of migration, I suspect that other areas saw strong monarch numbers, too. We won't know for sure until the monarchs reach Mexico and can be counted. This summer's sightings are encouraging, but they don't mean that we can relax even one bit about the importance of milkweed conservation.