May 13, 2011

Got Milk?

After this post, some of you will shrug your shoulders and say "it is what it is" and some of you promptly go get in your pickup and head out to buy your own milk cow.

But first, a brief update: Dropped the truck (now thought of as the albatross around my neck) off at the doctors office first thing Wednesday morning. For details on why, check the post following this one. Expected to be home for a few days while the truck sucked up more of our money, but as it turned out it was just a sensor (good job Frugal Canadian Hermit for an accurate diagnosis) and we were back on the road by 3:00 that afternoon. It's one of those deals where I was disgusted with the truck for being broken down, but had just enough time to get geared up for being home, only to find out we were leaving and get disgusted with the truck for being fixed so quickly! I tell you what, you just can't make people happy can you?

So Thursday morning found us here...
in southern Idaho delivering to an organic dairy. Pretty scenery isn't it? But don't be fooled. The dairy cows won't be grazing this nice green grass. They'll be eating this instead...
We delivered our load of canola meal that we had loaded in North Dakota on Tuesday.

Canola meal is a by-product left after abstracting the canola oil from the seed. We unload at most dairies by wind rowing the product out on the ground, and then a front end loader pushes it into the appropriate bin, as was the case here.
Its usually a very fast way to unload, unless the product sticks together, which is common with meal. But thankfully the canola meal was good and dry and dumped out quickly.
We deliver to dairies pretty frequently. They get a lot of different types of meal, and mineral. They have "recipes" and various amounts of each product are scooped into these trucks, ground together, and dumped into the feed bunks for the cows to munch on at leisure.

As soon as we were unloaded we had to skip down the road 10 miles to reload fertilizer. That load went 150 miles over into northern Utah. And then we hurried about 20 miles east of that delivery to load organic wheat in Collinston, UT.

By that point the "hurry up and get there" phase of the day was over. We had 450 miles to go and couldnt' deliver till morning. So Malcolm drove through Salt Lake City rush hour and then I took over for a leisurely drive through Utah's beautiful countryside.
Utah scenery is very diverse, but I prefer northern regions of the state, and then the I-15 corridor.
It was a very enjoyable evening.
The load of wheat was delivered this morning to another dairy, this one in southern Nevada.

When we first started this job, I was naive enough to still have an image of black and white cows peacefully grazing in lush green meadows, and then slowly plodding their way into a milking house each morning and afternoon for relief. Realistically, there are not enough of those lush green pastures to feed all the milk cows it takes to meet the human demand for our weekly gallon of milk.
99.99% of dairies look more like this, and YES, even the ORGANIC ones!
Cows milling about in large dirt lots with feed bunks where the interesting concoctions of mineral and meal are fed to them daily. No lush green meadows for these gals!

Now, in some respects I find it disturbing, but I'm also one of those who tend to say "it is what it is" and as nice as it would be to think milk comes from cows that eat grass all day, and as much as that concoction of stuff they do eat makes me cringe a little, I've been drinking it all my life and I haven't keeled over yet. We'll see what happens in the years to come. But when you think of all the icky stuff we eat, our milk products are just a drop in the bucket, so to speak.

I'll never be one of these that you find holding signs protesting outside feedlots or other agricultural businesses. I fully support, admire, and apprecicate EVERYONE in agriculture and plan on joining them full time as soon as I am able! But I'm also looking forward to the day when I can grow some of my own food. And I'm really looking forward to having my pair of much longed for, drooled over, and dreamed about dairy goats. And I plan on feeding them a strict diet of Montana grass.

We are empty and "bouncing" down 400 miles to southern California to load some of these
Looks like we're finally making it back to the onion patch!


Michaele said...

You go girl! As always - loved the post.

Jennifer said...

That's why I drink almond milk! :)

As for beef, we are so lucky to have a grass-fed beef farm just around the corner from us and I've been buying my beef directly from them. And it is one of the few farms where you actually see the cows out grazing on beautiful green pastures.

I do hope you get your dairy goats someday! I LOVE goat milk yogurt!

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Glad to hear the truck was a simple fix. I kinda always thought of the dairy farm as the same way you see it. They feed cows almost anything these days.

Meagan said...

Great post! :-) LOVED (I mean really loved) that snow capped mountain pic! That was an extra good one! ;-) XOXO!

Valerie said...

So glad ya'll are "back in business." This post makes me glad I don't drink milk. Maybe THIS is why it gives me immediate indigestion. :)

small farm girl said...

That's why I appreciate our grass fed beef and our dairy goat. I KNOW how the "others" live. lol

Leigh said...

I didn't realize that's what they fed dairy cattle, and organic milk producing ones at that. I agree that the farmers should not be criticized for how they farm. I think one of the problems is that agriculture cannot realistically be managed the same as industrial business. There are different sorts of variables. The sad thing is that so many farmers have been pushed into horrible debt, and probably don't think they are able to manage their farms any other way. Anyway, I'm glad we've got our own goats!