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When heavy snow comes down, the farm crews step up

You think shoveling out your sidewalks and driveway was a challenge? The following note from Jill Davidson, herd manager at the U.S. Dairy Field Station at Prairie du Sac, shows the effort needed to milk, feed and care for the station’s 350-cow milk herd and other stock in the face of the multiple heavy snowfalls that hit south central wisconsin last weekend:

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It was a rough weekend with the treacherous driving conditions and massive amounts of snow that slowed everything down at the farm. I am extremely grateful for how the crew really went beyond the call of duty to get things done and not leave me standing alone./p>

After working until 10 pm on Friday, Dick Hager pushed snow early Saturday morning before the morning shift arrived. Tina Melvin and Sebastian Baxter had a struggle to get to home Friday night and back to the farm on Saturday afternoon. We had to fetch Tina with 4-wheel drive vehicle. We were already short-staffed due to leave requests, so they worked at doing their jobs as well as chores of two others. Lyle Kuhnau picked up milk early on Saturday, so we could hold 3 milkings and not have to dump any milk. On Saturday afternoon, we tried to get started milking and done as quickly as possible, in order to get Tina and Sebastian home safely. Kurt Pickar came in at 6 pm to relieve me and help get Tina and Sebastian on their way. Bob Breunig and John Biech joined Kurt on Saturday night to stay in the conference room, so they were here for their 4:30 am shift Sunday morning.

On Sunday, Bob, John, and Kurt got the 4:30 am shift rolling which allowed me to catch a few more winks of sleep before starting the foreman rounds. Rich Campbell and Frank Klemm tried to get to the farm for their 7 am shifts, but ran into a closed Hwy 78. Too many cars were abandoned for the snow plows to get through! They made it in at 9 am. Jenny Simonson found the ditch, but finally got to the farm at 3:30 pm for her 1:30 pm shift. Kurt fed all of the tie-stall cows until Wendy Ederer could get here for her shift.

So, after getting both skidsteers stuck in the snow, moving the snow out of the feed bunks, bunker silos and around the calf hutches, and getting the snow out of the feed alley in G-barn, it was business as usual. Crew worked together to keep things moving and get caught up on the late start. Everything was fed, milked, and cared for as efficiently as possible.

Without their preparedness and efforts, this weekend would have been an absolute disaster. I have often said that the success of this operation is not from my efforts alone, but it includes the crew and their responsiveness and willingness to get things done. I wanted to take a moment to appreciate their sense of responsibility to their positions at the farm and acknowledge their efforts. I think that we sometimes forget that a dairy farm is 7-days a week of milking, feeding, and animal care.

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