High Grove Farm Journal – November 2023
Dec 04, 2023 (Westby, WI)
By Jessica Rogers
The month of November made a very pronounced entrance on the farm this year. It warned us with frozen water cups in the dairy barn one morning that we probably shouldn’t use the big fans anymore. The overnight below-freezing temperatures had tractors and equipment turning over hard or not starting at all. Cold had come to Wisconsin! We also had the sweetest heifer calve-in that day, and she’s been so fun to have in the barn since.
By a few days later, we had the cows out grazing on pastures again. It was warm enough to sit in the grass in the morning sunshine and soak up a few more moments of grazing life with the girls before real winter settles into our area.
Hi! I am Jessica. This is my monthly farm journal I write for the Creamery to give a glimpse of life on a small Wisconsin dairy farm. And with the start of cold weather, our family hasn’t had much time to slow down. I had kept myself busy the last weeks of October preparing for our farm’s scheduled milk inspection that was due in November. Dairy farms are held to strict standards by the federal government and the state, and we have several annual visits from inspectors. Some scheduled and some are unannounced.
Touching up paint in the milk house, washing pipes and connections, scrubbing floors, windows and stainless steel and checking and cleaning all the hard-to-reach places in a milk house and milking equipment is a lot of work! We passed with flying colors to my personal relief since the cleaning falls on me generally. We had the suggestion from the inspector to reseal a spot in a corner where the wall foundation had shifted slightly away from itself, and he could just start to see light coming through. This will have to be completed before his next visit.
The barn cleaner broke for the first time in months as soon as the weather got cold, and it reminded us of all the little things that we need to replace before the real cold sets in. Old equipment is pushed to its limits when freezing temperatures come.
Deer hunting and Thanksgiving was a wonderful time spent with family and friends. Thanksgiving night we played Tractor-opoly after chores (the John-Deere Tractor version of Monopoly), and our daughter Laney is now old enough to play by herself. It’s fun to watch her make her own decisions in the game.
Our six-year-old daughter isn’t the only thing growing, our family is too! We’re beyond excited to welcome another daughter in mid-March.
On Nov. 26, we woke up to snow covering the ground outside and that afternoon brought shenanigans from our heifers who decided to run away to the neighbor’s fields. Drew had forgotten to latch the gate, and cows are smart animals who notice things that are out of the ordinary. They saw their chance and went on an adventure.
After finally spotting where they had bedded down out of the cold wind – all tired from their fun – we slowly walked the little herd back home by shaking a bag of calf grain in front of them for them to follow. It was cold!
Since then, Laney and I have been decorating the house and farm for Christmas. The weeks between Thanksgiving day and Christmas day are some of our favorites. Getting ready for Christmas, baking tons of goodies and making the house as cozy as can be, brings us a lot of joy. There’s something extra special about coming into a warm and festive home after cold barn chores.
This time of the year, the kids know there’s always a jar of homemade hot cocoa mix on the counter for them, and the tins of Christmas cookies are always being refilled.
Thank you for stopping by the farm! Blessings from our family to yours. We hope you have a wonderful time preparing for this holiday season. Stay warm out there and come visit again.
-Jessica Rogers is a Westby Creamery farmer-owner who is sharing glimpses of farm life with us.
A new farm journal comes out each month. Missed last month’s journal? You can find it here.