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Tours, tours, tours

From the Farm

January 13, 2012
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

Wednesday was one of the busiest days I have had in a long time.

Some days are like that. Don't forget there are also days that a person wishes would be over just after it begins. Being busy is far more gratifying than being slothful all day.

Steve and I again hosted the youth group of Network New Ulm. They chose to tour at 9:30 in the morning, which only gave me about an hour to find something to do while waiting for their bus to arrive. I chose to work on a milking unit that wasn't working quite right.

Article Photos

The vacuum wouldn't turn off. So it was constantly making a sucking noise, which in my little world of milking cows causes me a bit of anxiety. Vacuum noises lead to mastitis, which leads to treating a cow, which leads to having to milk that cow into a bucket and that leads to losing money.

I like money too much to lose it.

So the youngsters came and went. They are usually fairly quiet when they tour our farm. I don't know if that's because they are too shy or because they are just too darn cold to want to stick around any longer.

After a sample of string cheese from AMPI, Steve and I jumped into the pick up to head to New Sweden Dairy near St. Peter. We have previously toured the dairy and wanted to see if the operation had improved since that visit.

Boy has it improved; I was totally impressed.

Not only do they operate a great system over there, but a majority of the cows they tend to just happen to be Jersey cows. I was surrounded by those cute, adorable, huggable doe-eyed brown Jersey cows, calves and heifers. It was a Jersey Utopia.

Sure there were also a few Holsteins roaming around, but they do nothing for me.

If you are not familiar with New Sweden Dairy, they have approximately 4,000 cows living at their 80-acre facility. They milk approximately 3,000 of those cows and the remaining 1,000 cows are waiting to have a calf and then move into the milking herd.

They also have several out buildings that house the baby calves. Oh my gosh, I was in the Jersey Utopia in those buildings. All the calves in the barn we visited were Jersey calves and they were so loveable. I asked permission to pet them, and they obliged. It was so blissful standing in a barn surrounded by Jersey calves.

I tried to get our neighbor, Mike Griebel, to create a diversion so I could grab a couple of calves and stuff them in the back of the pick-up, but he wanted nothing to do with me. In fact, I asked several people to help me with that. They laughed like they actually thought I was joking. Sometimes I am serious.

New Sweden Dairy really has an awesome operation. They produce good quality milk in an extremely efficient way. While we were walking through the barns, several of those great Jersey cows came over to the gates and wanted to be scratched and rubbed.

Of course I obliged.

But the point I wanted to make is that those cows that came over to greet us told me that those cows are treated in a humane, calm manner, otherwise they wouldn't walk up to strangers for a scratch behind their big soft ears.

Unless they could just sense that I was the one that was going to spoil them rotten?

The cows living at New Sweden Dairy are contented. In one 250-cow pen, I saw only two cows walking around; the other 248 were lying down in their stalls, chewing their cud. That's exactly what a cow is supposed to do, rest and make milk. A contented Jersey is a productive Jersey. (OK, that's true for all breeds of dairy cows.)

If you ever have the chance to visit New Sweden Dairy, I strongly advise you accept the opportunity. You will be impressed with the cleanliness, the friendliness of the staff and how the cows are treated.

Now, moving on. I have to make a clarification from last week's column. In that story, I explained how I would only purchase paint from lumber yards. Well, I didn't specifically mean ONLY lumberyards. I would also purchase paint from hardware stores as well. Small-business owners are the ones that are truly going to understand my needs when it comes to painting my walls.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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