When we purchased our heifers over the past year, we had envisioned remodeling half of our barn in order to milk them. We would need to redo all our electrical, bring the old milking equipment from my grandpa‘s barn update and install it, install head locks to hold the cows while milking, and the list went on and on.
Saying goodbye to Whoopie
We got a quote from an electrician to rework of the electrical and it was way more than expected and then he never called us back. Item after item was just getting more and more expensive than we had estimated last year.
So as Gertie and Whoopie’s due dates neared, we needed to make some tough decisions. Were we going to put all this money into redoing the barn, just to milk a few cows, who’s milk we couldn’t even sell?
And to be honest, at the end of last year, I came across a safety campaign - increasing awareness of the dangers on farms for children. I got down a rabbit hole and ended up reading all of the reported farm fatalities of children. A large majority were tractors or ATVs, but next were large livestock - cattle and horses. As someone who narrowly escaped a deadly situation with a bull myself, this hit me really hard. It made me start to question the roll of cows in our farm right now.
With little kids ”helping” with most activities on the farm, working with cows can get scary at times - even the most gentle cow could accidentally hurt a small child (or even an adult for that matter). And with our farm not being an established dairy with infrastructure already in place, it increases the chances that something could go wrong.
I will always love cows. They will always be my favorite animal. But right now, for New Frontier Farms, dairy cows are not where we need to be.
Gertie coming to say hi.
We will keep our two steers - Chuck and Harry - and finish them out on our pastures in order to feed our family. We also are toying around the idea of keeping Gertie and letting her raise her calf just like a beef cow would, since she is a crossbred (not a traditional dairy cow). We will keep a close eye on her once she calves and if she has too much milk, we will work with her to give her another calf to consume that extra milk.
Whoopie was returned to her original home (and we are so thankful to those farmers for working with us). Ethel has found her way to a great farm in Western Minnesota. And Jenny is still looking for her next home, so if you know of anyone that would like a very sweet, Red and White Holstein heifer, please let us know.
This has been a really tough decision and honestly, I thought about not sharing it because somehow it felt like a failure. But I know people like when we share our decision making and I have come to be confident in our decision (after working through it for many months with Nick). Not everything we do as a business has to be an instant success. And as a new business, we need to figure out what works for our farm and for us. So if that means growing our dairy goat herd (because they are so sweet and my kids can be involved in almost every aspect of raising them) and selling my cows - then we need to not be afraid to tell people. And if they judge us, they judge us. At the end of the day, we need to keep our business afloat and more importantly, our family safe.
Cooper, our goat Allison, and I