We are having above normal temperatures for January. Still, no snow has fallen on the ground. Even though snow makes chores harder, it would be nice to see a white winter instead of green lawn!
Monday, Dad worked and improved some gates around the yard. It is important to have a good fence to keep the pigs in! He also repaired a feed wagon. Dad repeated the gate-fixing job on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thursday, Dad built a short auger to improve mixing feed by our grain bins. The auger moves soybean meal from a bulk bin to the feed mill. Now, we don't have to move the tractor and feed mill as we grind the feed. We have a good system now. You may see a picture of the auger in use next week.
Around Thanksgiving (last fall) Dad tried to move all of the sows home from the harvested corn and bean fields. One sow did not cooperate and did not want to go in the hog cart. Dad tried later on and she still did not want to go home. Around Christmas, the sow had 8 baby pigs that were in perfect health. Dad found the sow and her piglets on Thursday. He was shocked that the baby pigs lived through some cold nights we recently had! The sow and her babies are finally home!
On Thursday and Friday, I had Semester Test at school. The subjects that I had tests in were: Physical Science, Industrial Arts (shop class), Algebra (math), English, and Plant Science (vocational agriculture). I hope I did well on all of the tests! Also after school on Wednesday and Thursday, I had Reader's Theater and Improvisation practice. Reader's Theater is a short play that about 6 students and I are doing for speech contest. Improvisation is when you partner up with another student. You are given a topic. Then, you have one minute to brain storm what you are going to do to make that topic into a short play. When you are acting in the play, you make up the lines as you go on, but it needs to make sense.
I had a 4-H meeting Saturday morning. After the meeting, I was in charge of the recreation. For recreation, the club played a game. The participant would draw a topic out of a box. Then he or she was asked to speak on this topic without saying umm, ahh, annnnddddddd, etc. They couldn't stutter. If they could go for one minute, they won! We had two members that had to do a stand off to determine the winner. The prize was to be the first in line for snacks at next month's meeting! By doing the recreation game, it not only was fun, it taught members how to do an impromptu and speak effectively. It's not as easy as you think! Many people say um or ah while they are thinking of what to say even in everyday conversation and they don't even realize they are doing it.
This is the third and the final week for my series about the dairy farm that I spent 24 hours on a few weeks ago. I will share what benefits the farmer receives from selling the organic milk to Organic Valley.
A small Organic Valley dairy family farm, like the farm I stayed at, has an average of 50 cows. If those cows produced 50 pounds of milk per day on the average and if that milk is sold organically, that farm has a $73,000 income boost as compared to selling that milk on the conventional market. The difference in net income is $2.95 for each hundred pounds of milk produced! That's why Organic Valley dairy farmers are doing better financially.
The prices are so different because the organic farmers set their own prices as a group when they work with the cooperative. This way, the farmers can make a profit to stay in business and be a happy family farmer.
Conventional milk prices change as the amount of milk is sold. The Organic Valley milk price stays stable while the conventional price goes up and down. That's why many Organic Valley family farmers are happy with what they are getting.
Here are some more facts:
Organic Valley Family of Farms Sales:
1992 $2 million
1997 $20 million
2002 $125 million (estimated)
2003 $155 million (projected)
2005 $212 million (projected)
Organic Valley 2002 Accomplishments (Wisconsin):
Brought on 44 organic farmers for a statewide total of 168 organic farmers.
Added 2,200 cows being raised organically for a statewide total of 6,800 cows.
Added 7,040 acres in organic production for a statewide total of 27,000 acres.
Provided employment to 220 people in rural Wisconsin.
Organic Valley 2002 Accomplishments (National):
Brought 94 farmers into the Cooperative, including a new 11-member Ohio pool, for a statewide total of 515 farmers.
Added 3,810 cows being raised organically for a national total of 17,800 cows.
Added 15,000 acres into the organic system for a national total of about 75,000 acres.
Kept more than 500 American farm families on the land.
By looking at these facts, I've learned that Organic Valley has grown a lot through out the past year. Organic Valley started in 1988 with only seven farmers and all of them were dairy farmers looking for an alternative market. They were upset with the pay price and being kicked out by corporate farmers that are taking over the dairy business. Organic Valley has grown from seven farmers to hundreds with about half a dozen different producing pools: dairy, egg, beef, pork, vegetable, citrus, and broiler. Organic Valley is still growing today.
Farm Fact: I would hope that people take the time to thank Organic Valley for being here today and all of the farmers who are producing food for your table. It is really hard to stay in the farming business today, but through Organic Valley, hundreds of farmers nation wide, including us and the dairy farm that I stayed at, have been saved from damaging farm prices.