One of a farmers favorite vacation destinations is other farms. I know, it sounds rather silly to see how others work while taking a break from your own, but that's what we farmers do. Yesterday I met up with Haley Hinrichs, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, to take a "mini" vacation. We traveled 20 minutes from Bremer Farms to tour Square Deal Dairy, this years recipient of the Minnesota Producer of the Year Award.
Chicky was our gracious tour guide, showing Haley and I where the calves were born. We next saw where they lived in individual hutches until they grew bigger and were moved to larger pens.
We then visited the free stall barn where the milk cows live. These barns provide fresh air, room to move freely about, and a fresh supply of water and feed at all times. These free stall barns provide soft, clean bedding made from recycled manure. Yes, you read that right! Sustainability is important on a dairy farm, so the moisture is removed from the cow manure in order to make bedding which will later be used as fertilizer on their crops. Pretty smart!
The Otte's have a well orchestrated plan of moving their animals to appropriate facilities as the cattle's size and needs change. But every step of the way they are clean, comfortable and well cared for.
Princess Kay 2016 Haley Hinrichs with Chicky and Blake Otte and sons.
Our last stop was the milking parlor (barn). The Otte family milks 450 cows, three times a day with the help of 12 employees. I loved how quiet and content the cows were while being milked.
Something else I loved about our "vacation" was the obvious care and concern the Otte's showed for their sons desires to farm. Many years before the boys were old enough to make career choices, Blake and Chicky made it clear to their sons that they would all be expected to get an education as well as work two years away from their family farm. "It's a big commitment to become a farmer, and we wanted to make sure they didn't regret their decision by not exploring other options," said Chicky. Obviously this was a great recommendation, as all three of their sons have returned to farm, each taking on a specific role.
Thanks for the tour Chicky and family, and congratulations to Square Deal Dairy for being named Minnesota Producer of the Year!
I have included a video, complements of Midwest Dairy, featuring the Otte family and Square Deal Dairy. (It's almost as good as being there...on a "mini" vacation!