Farmers Like Good Food
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Local farmers this time of the year are busy doing a lot of thinking and planning for the coming spring. Some of them made major decisions in late 2012 to purchase new or upgraded equipment or build some new buildings. They did this to be ready for next spring and also for tax purposes.
At the same time, as the cold and snow of winter sets in, many of them have extra outside work to do, especially on livestock farms. Heavy snowfall calls for equipment that most of them have to plow out drives, feedlots and barnyards. This all takes time and gasoline or diesel fuel to run the engines. More expense.
When very cold weather sets in, equipment seems to have a greater tendency to break. Various connections and belts are stiff from the cold and don't want to move easily. Metal is cold and brittle and tends to break easier. Winter does present its challenges to everyone, on the farm and to those in town driving to work on cold mornings.
Local farms and those across the nation are where food is produced. Consumers should keep in mind that farmers have the same interests and goals for this food production that they have in town when they go to the grocery store. That is, farmers eat the same food that everyone does and they want to be sure that it is of the best quality.
They also know that producing quality food requires the best of care for their animals and their crops. Dairy farmers, and they are still a major source of farm income in the area, have to protect their cows and young stock from the cold and snow. They keep the ice off feedlots and milking parlor alley floors. They also know that cows need a little extra feed to keep them warm and make sure they have access to that feed.
Drinking fountains are heated so the animals have access to clean water at all times. Alleys that collect livestock waste may be scraped extra times to keep them from freezing. More attention is paid to bedding to keep the animals comfortable.
Many farms keep animals in barns to protect the health and welfare of the animals. Housing protects the cattle from predators, disease, bad weather and extreme climate, both hot and cold. They are also easier to care for when they can be watched constantly.
When one stops to think that farmers are much like the rest of the population in the kind of food they want, it helps to know they put their interest in and emphasis on producing quality food. Farmers large and small do a good job with both their livestock and in tilling the land.
Once in a while there are situations where livestock is abused or not well cared for. Generally, these are on small, part-time farms where the owner works away or may have moved out from town and doesn't know how to care for the animals. These farms would better consider crop or some kind of specialty farming and sell the livestock.
Smaller dairy farms that are still in business have done an excellent job of managing their herd and caring for their cows. Otherwise, they would not be in business today.
So keep in mind that when going to the grocery store, the food is produced by people even more interested than the public is in making sure their livestock and crops are raised with quality in mind. Your food is good and good for you.
Parker is retired from The Ohio State University and is an independent agricultural writer.