May 15, 2014
If I wasn't in the beef business my second career choice would be that of a dairyman. I know that would mean no horses or brandings, and I'd have to wear those knee-high rubber boots that are forever springing a leak. And I'd still have to fix fence, just not as much of it.
I like dairying because in college I used to hang around the project dairy where a lot of my best friends were dairy majors and, I hate to admit this, but I really liked milking Holsteins. I know that dairy cows aren't the most intellectual animals in the barnyard but there are some advantages over beef cows: you can gather them by clanging a bucket, I'd never get bucked off again, and if I was a dairyman I'd always have access to that nirvana of the taste buds, chocolate milk.
The biggest drawback I see is that there's never any rest for a dairyman. If I was a dairyman this is how my dairy diary might read.
Monday- Got up tired again at 3:30 to milk the cows. Jose went back to Mexico so that means I'll be doing all three milkings daily until he gets back. I sure wish someone would invent the technology where cows could milk themselves. Note to self: Make a bigger effort to meet a nice gal, maybe a Dutch woman or a Portuguese, who wants to settle down, raise a nice family and become a slave to lactation just like me.
Tuesday- In between milking cows I had to calve the heifers, breed some cows, treat several for mastitis, chop silage, feed all the cattle and fix the front end loader that keeps breaking down. Tried to sneak a barely-crippled cow by the guys at the salesyard but they wouldn't take her. I considered bribery but I haven't received my milk check yet and didn't have any money in my wallet. Tomorrow I have my yearly meeting with my banker and my stomach has been churning. (Pun intended.) I don't know if it's the banker, or the fact that Jose called and said he isn't coming back.
Wednesday- After the morning milking I took the banker to lunch and tried to get him drunk so he'd approve next year's operating loan. He kept talking about "his" cows, "his" land, "his" tractors and kept saying "our" assets had to be collateralized. Whatever that means. I sure wish he'd come milk "his" cows once in awhile. In the end he not only extended my loan, he urged me to expand because he said he can't foreclose on "my" cows because then he'd have to show a loss. The big difference between he and I is that the cow manure is on the outside of my boots.
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Thursday- Got a letter from another government agency who said they wanted to fine me $75,000 per day because they found on my property an endangered microscopic insect eating an endangered invisible plant.
Friday- Went to bed flat worn out and realized I'd forgotten to eat today. The "Big Event" for the day was I got to buy a new front end loader because the old one finally went up in flames. Well, I didn't exactly get a new one, but I got a good deal on a 10 year old tractor that only cost $100,000.
Saturday- My "new" old front end loader broke down twice today. I finally got hold of Jose at his mother's house in Sonora and begged him to come back and promised if he did return ASAP I'd leave the dairy to him when I die. I think he was leaning towards coming back until I told him that.
Sunday- Opened Saturday's mail and tried to make heads or tails of my milk check. The way I read it the government multiplies the non fat dry price by either the the price of block cheddar, the price of a ton of alfalfa or the total points scored in the last Super Bowl. Then they subtract the price for California powder and add the price of ice cream to arrive at a benchmark that is far below my cost of production. So after I milked the cows three times today I flushed their milk down the drain.
Dairy Diary for next week: Repeat. And repeat. Repeat and repeat.