This week brought some new additions to the farm. On Wednesday we picked up Frieda, a dry cow who will calve at the end of April with her second calf. She is the daughter of our current milk cow, Millie, and comes from the same Amish farm. She has the exact same udder as her mama, who is our highest producer, and is much more docile than Millie when we first bought her, so we have high hopes for Frieda. She is young, too, soon to be in her second lactation so we look forward to enjoying her for years to come!
As always, it was a lovely visit with the Miller family – they were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Beau and spent over an hour getting their baby fill with him, each child getting a turn to cuddle with him. Always wanting to learn more, I was fascinated to learn how birth is handled in their community, what they do when something doesn’t go as planned and how post-partum care is handled (each family gets a free nanny/maid for the first month!) I was eager to gain any wisdom from the mom of 10 on how she balances children, a household, and coordinating farm work & customers.
We love visiting and learning from the Amish – since industrial agriculture was never an option for their communities, the farming & homemaking knowledge is an unbroken line between the generations, making them an invaluable resource for people like us. We feel so blessed to be able to know and learn from this family!
On Friday, the kids and I made a quick trip to visit Dan on his last day working in the barns at the large dairy farm. He worked for a few hours feeding cows on Saturday and Sunday but Friday was his last day delivering calves and treating sick cows. We are feeling very ready to close that chapter of work in our family. Between the innumerable injuries, working every weekend and holiday and no overtime we are very excited for him to be working a more sustainable job.
Dan will be working with Vergennes Broadband, a local internet business, as an equipment operator running fiber-optic cable. We have rented out our silo for the past two years to Vergennes Broadband as an internet tower so we have had a working relationship with the owners in the past. They are very supportive of what we’re doing on our farm, and intimately understand the demands of growing a small business. It also helps that the owner grew up on a dairy farm! ;D
Finally, on Saturday we finally brought some new laying hens back to the farm. They are just beginning to lay their small pullet eggs; we will let everyone know when we finally have eggs available again in the next few weeks. We bought 75 hens to add in with our 10 Isa Browns and are hoping to expand even more depending on our customer demand for fresh non-GMO eggs.
The deadline for pasture-raised chickens passed last week but we did order extra birds so if you would like to order some, please contact us for availability. The orders will be split between June & August pick up on the farm.
If you do one thing this week to learn more about the food system in the United States, we really suggest watching Food Chains, a documentary produced last year (available on Netflix for 99 cents on iTunes through the end of March). It’s the first film to really delve into the labor problem that is part of the industrial food system in this country.
Many people don’t realize that labor laws have only been passed in the U.S. due to exemptions give to the agricultural sector. For example, agricultural workers do not receive overtime pay, nor holiday or weekend premiums. Many are not offered health care and since so many are recruited to work as undocumented workers, they do not qualify for health insurance or social programs, even though each worker is assigned a tax ID number and pay federal & state taxes.
Farm labor is an issues we’ve become much more aware of and passionate about the more we both work in the industry, but it’s something that’s discussed in any context except the immigration debate. Food Chains is an interesting documentary that will hopefully start the conversation, much as Food Inc & Fresh did about GMOs, animal welfare, and chemical use in agriculture.