Monday, May 25, 2015

First milk pickup without glitches

Well, Aaron my milkman just left.  Aaron is great. He has a great attitude and is very professional in his job.  He is interested in my business and the progress of it.  He has been excited to see the robots in operation and, as soon as they were in, took extra time to go see the robot barn.   It was the first successful milk pick up without any hiccups.  I hope I am not speaking too soon, since the milk has not returned to the big tank from the holding tank where the milk is held while the milkman picks up the milk and while the big tank washes. 

I have had a number of visitors come over to see the robotic milking system.  It is fun to watch their expressions and listen to their comments.  Most people wish me the best of luck in this crazy undertaking. Some think that this proves I am as nutty as they have thought for years. 

I continue to guide the cows that are slow learners through the system multiple times a day.  Sometimes I watch the robot try to attach the milk cups to the teats and I am thinking the robot has lost its memory, literally.  It seems to go in all the opposite directions, and when it is in perfect position, instead of attaching, it restarts the scanning process.

I had some of my cousins up the last two days as it is Memorial Day today.  They, like me, grew up milking cows. It has been fun to relive those memories of getting kicked by the cows & dreaming of  something like a robotic milking machine.  I don't  think in my wildest dreams I would ever have imagined a robotic dairying system to look and be the way that this one is.  My cousins are fascinated by the process & the ability of the robot to locate the teat and attach the milk cup. 

Ballpark numbers today are around 80 percent of the cows now go through the system on their own.  20 percent of those are not going through as often as they should, and by the time they go through are leaking milk and have enlarged udders. 

The days continue to get better, partly because the cows are acclimating themselves to the machines & partly because I have moved the problematic animals into the other pen that we still milk through the parlor.  I had not figured I would have to move anywhere near as many animals as I have to the parlor pen. That is very discouraging.  I am hopeful that once I get the main herd trained and have a little more time to train cows that I will bring back down some of those cows moved into the parlor pen back to the robot pen. 

Anyway, today, as most of you, I have thought of my ancestors.  I come from a production agricultural background.  I have worked in agriculture all my life. I love the land, cows, dairy farming, and am proud to be involved in production ag.  I defend agriculture daily and hope that others will also. I see that as more and more people get generations removed from production ag that it is forgotten about the American farmer and what they have done for us from generations past.  We truly do have the most affordable & safe food supply in the world.  My hat goes off today to my past ancestors and all the past agricultural pioneers that forged our nation, culture, religions & lifestyles. 

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