A couple of dairy farmer syndromes have been on my mind this week.
There is no good name for it, but the first syndrome is the problem some dairy farmers have with selling healthy, productive animals. We are part of that some.
For the first several years we were farming, every cow that could walk and produce milk was kept on the farm. We tried our darnedest to save every cow and calf from every illness or calamity. Every cow got a second or third or fourth chance.
Well, we've become pretty good at saving animals. And pretty good at preventing illnesses and calamities. We've also improved our herd's reproduction. So now we have too many animals, and they're eating us out of house and home. We went from an 11 percent cull rate while trying to keep our barn full to a 50 percent cull rate while trying to keep our barn from overflowing. And we're still overflowing.
We've sold all the cows that we can justify selling. For awhile the joke was that if a cow so much as looked at Glen wrong, she might get put on the list.
We also tried selling springing heifers. That was extremely unprofitable.
So now we're trying to figure out how to sell heifers as calves. The hardest part has been wrapping our heads around the idea of selling a healthy young calf that has her whole life ahead of her. What if she would have turned out to be a great cow?
The other syndrome has to do with time management. It should probably be called No Starting Early. This is what it looks like:
Everything goes well mixing feed. We get feed unloaded and get the cows in from pasture - and we're still ahead of schedule.
Then, instead of starting milking early, we say, "Oh, we have 15 minutes until we need to start milking, so we'll go _________. " And we fill in the blank with some task that should only take 15 minutes, but ends up taking 30 minutes and now we're starting late. Why didn't we just start milking early?
We have been battling this syndrome for as long as we've been farming. When we were farming at my dad's, I decided that we needed to start evening milking earlier so that we could get to bed earlier. So, we started milking earlier and finishing earlier. But since there was still an hour of daylight left after we finished, we used it to work on other tasks or projects. Needless to say, we didn't get to bed any earlier.
The same thing happens in the house, too. I'll look at the clock, see that I have 15 minutes before bedtime or chore time, and, instead of just going to bed early or going outside early, I'll decide to tackle just one more quick task. The next thing I know, it's a half-hour past my bedtime or I'm 20 minutes late for chores.
This syndrome can also manifest itself in the morning. You know those mornings: when you wake up on your own 10 minutes before your alarm clock is supposed to go off. Instead of cursing and pulling the covers up, why don't we get up early?
This odd behavior seems like it should cure itself - starting late, going to bed late or getting up late never leaves us feeling good - but apparently the lure of getting just one more thing done or just 10 more minutes of sleep is stronger than the reward of starting early.
If someone has developed a treatment for either of these syndromes, please share.