Editor’s Note: this is the fifth installment in our eight-part “Farm to Table” series. The Morrison family is a fictional dairy farm family. Join us as we follow their adventures in “Farm to Table!” In our latest edition, we’ll spend a summer day with Julie, Dan Morrison’s wife.
Bleary-eyed, I wake up briefly as my husband Dan goes to get the day started across the driveway at our family farm. I roll over for a bit to get a small extra snooze in before my own day begins.
We are so busy this month, so I try to fit in sleep when I can. It’s National Dairy Month and we have a big Indianapolis trip planned to meet with other Hoosier dairy farmers. I love being able to meet up and talk shop. We’re so lucky to be a part of a nationwide community of dairy farmers, all dedicated to providing essential nutrients through milk, cheese, and more!
The summer warmth wafts through the open windows and I am thankful for the ceiling fan to help cool the room. As the sun begins to creep up the horizon, I know it’s time to get up.
After I rise and get ready for the day, I head down the hall to wake up Jack and Alyssa. Just because school’s out for the summer does not mean my kids are taking it easy. Two pairs of extra hands are something we always need on the farm.
While neither are particularly happy about the early wake-up call, they both know it’s a part of life on the farm. After breakfast, the three of us head to the side of the farm where our calves are housed. Each calf has a hutch of their own on one side of the property. Similar to an extra-large dog crate, each hutch has a sand bed, feed, and water. On this particularly humid day, the back windows are open to give some extra air flow to the youngest members of our farm family.
Calves live in the hutches only for the first eight weeks of their lives, when they are most vulnerable to diseases and infections. Then, they are moved to a larger pen with other calves where they can run and play. Hutches help keep calves warm in the wintertime and let us give them individual care year-round. We can tell exactly how much milk and water each calf is drinking, so we can spot problems earlier.
Jack and Alyssa both help with feeding the calves and making sure they have plenty of water.
After we finish, I send Jack and Alyssa out to scout our crops while I go make sandwiches for lunch. They make sure there’s no damage from insects or wildlife. After a very wet May, we had to replant portions of our fields that flooded, so it’s even more important to check different sections and make sure the replanted portions are keeping up with the rest of the field.
Both report back that our crops are in good shape with minimal damage. I usher them inside for some water, lunch, and a cold glass of milk. I am so proud of both Jack and Alyssa and everything they’ve accomplished so far. Alyssa just finished her first Mini-Marathon in record time. Jack plays soccer and is gearing up to show one of our cows at our county 4-H Fair. While Alyssa goes for an afternoon run, Jack is working with his cow to make sure she’s ready to be shown. He walks back and forth with precision, guiding her. I cannot wait to go cheer him on next month!
It gets warmer as the afternoon goes on. I go out to the barn before the second milking of the day and help ensure the cows are cool. I help Adam and Rose, our workers, to take the curtains down in the barn to let the breeze through. One-by-one, we double-check the misters and fans that help cool the cows. The summer is always busy because our employees like to take vacations, too. We need to get the barn maintenance done before Rose goes to visit family next week!
By the time dinner rolls around, we’ve milked the herd twice and are exhausted. I’m pretty sure a good night’s rest is guaranteed!
Check back next month for Part Six, where our dog will take you through a day in his life on our farm!