I love any kind of farming – from rooftops in Brooklyn to urban renewal projects in Detroit. But I had my most authentic and fascinating farm experience this weekend in Wisconsin when I visited the Beck Valley Farm, family-owned and operated by Bonnie and Ken Beck. Bonnie gave me a great, super intensive, tutorial on exactly what it takes to run a 250 herd dairy farm. The huge amount of work involved is mind-blowing. Much of it is still manual but more of the planting and field work is now being being made more efficient and precise through technology.
Read more below – and also check out my photos from the farm.
Farm work is intense – the idea of getting up at 3:30 every morning, 7 days a week to milk cows for 3 hours (to be repeated later in the day for another 3 hours) is almost more work than I can comprehend. On top of that, there is the 24/7 feeding process- with specific feed for different age cows to make sure they are getting the right amount of nutrition for their life stage. The Becks work with a nutritionist to calibrate the feed. The rest of the day is consumed with preparing the milk for daily pick up, taking care of newborn calves, monitoring cows in heat and preparing them for insemination, birthing of calves and of course, huge amounts of cleaning up in the stalls and the fields.
I’ve added much more detail on each of the photos – e.g. silos aren’t used for feed anymore. Farmers today are more inclined to use Ag-Bags and also the farm equipment has become very techie.