Farming replenishes the earth

Harvesting silage at Majestic Crossing Dairy

Harvest was a struggle. The rainy weather started in the spring before planting. This fall, during silage harvest, we fought the same elements to get the crops out of the fields. The rain forced us to shorten our growing season. That means, we lose yield, which means less feed for our animals. We have one window each year to provide enough feed for our cows for a full year. We have had three wet years in a row, so feed inventories are low.

We started harvest on October 7th. Usually, we start on September 12th. Most of our days start at 7 a.m. with pre-maintenance on the chopper which includes fueling up, greasing the chopper, filling the tires, and sharpening knives on the front that chop the corn. It’s important to do an equipment check so all our tools for that day are at 100% working capacity. We start chopping at 8 a.m. Normally, we run to 10:00 p.m. at night.

In previous years, we chop directly into a semi-trailer. This year, we had to use a tractor and dump cart, and dump the silage into the semi-trailer on the road because the ground was too wet to bring it in the fields. That required three additional employees and three more pieces of machinery, which meant higher fuel costs, wages and wear and tear on machinery.

Farms operate in a rhythm. Starting late affects everything on the farm. It especially affects manure hauling. We need that fertilizer to keep the farm recycling running. We feed crops to our animals, who produce meat and milk, the cows produce manure and the cycle begins again.

We finished harvesting silage on October 24th. There is still plenty to do on the farm. We have to harvest our corn and soybeans.

I believe farming replenishes the earth, especially the soil. It all comes back to feed us.

Posted in Dairy News | Comments Off on Farming replenishes the earth

Work on the farm continues

Darin Strauss and the families and employees of Majestic Crossing Dairy are committed to sharing the story of life on the farm

Work on the farm never stops. No matter what happens, there are cows to feed and crops to tend to. The afternoon of Dean’s funeral service, we were chopping silage and feeding cows within hours. During the past few months, we have key team members who stepped up to keep everything going. On a farm, there is always the next day to plan for, the next tractor to maintain, the next cow to give birth … Time moves on.

The families and employees who own and operate Majestic Crossing Dairy are committed to continue to share what agriculture and the dairy community is all about on our blog and Facebook page. We want to help build understanding on where food comes from and how we produce milk, which is made into Wisconsin cheese.

I’m Darin. I’ve always joked that I’m the taller, younger, better-looking brother. I will be writing the blog and posting on Facebook. I’m the dairy operation manager, so anything that lives and breathes on the farm, including the cows and our dedicated team of people, I manage. I make sure the cows are healthy, including managing vaccinations, medical checkups, making sure the cows eat a balanced diet, are milked and cared for as well as possible.

I look forward to sharing the story of life on our farm. I welcome your questions and comments. We will continue on.

Posted in Dairy News | Comments Off on Work on the farm continues

Our hearts are fragile

Photo by Len Villano

It is with heavy hearts that we update you on Dean. Our son, brother, husband and uncle is in his final days. Dean has been moved to Sharon Richardson Community Hospice in Sheboygan Falls. If you would like to visit to say your goodbye, please limit your visit to ten minutes. Our hearts are fragile. Your words of support extended to our family have been overwhelming. We thank you for your comfort and your prayers. Our faith comes up against the fear of death. We trust that our Father will do what is right, what is loving. – The Strauss Family

Posted in Dairy News | Comments Off on Our hearts are fragile

The value of farm tours

Our visitors call our robotic feed pusher a Roomba!

By Darin Strauss

We continue to host farm tours regularly. We receive requests from Sartori Cheese, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and school groups — sometimes on one day’s notice! But, we always try to make time to accommodate the request because we enjoy hosting tours and educating the public about modern farming practices.

Six representatives from a pizza company in Philadelphia toured our farm last spring. They were crazy about cheese! They had a good experience on our farm, and now, they can help tell the story of modern dairy farming in the big city. They were amazed by our robotic feed pusher. They kept calling it a Roomba. The group took pictures and placed it on their social media accounts reaching people in cities. Taking the dairy story to audiences outside of agriculture is important.

Even when we are super busy, it’s always worth our time to do a tour. We can’t say enough about the tours and the positive impact they make.

We encourage farmers to open their farms to tours. It’s an investment in our future.

Posted in Dairy News | Comments Off on The value of farm tours

What do cows eat?

By Darin Strauss

Our cows’ diet is developed by a nutritionist in order to feed them the best diet possible. It’s a better diet than I eat, actually. We feed our cows like elite athletes. That way, they produce fresh, high-quality milk. Our cows eat a mixture of corn, hay, grain and nutritional supplements.

The nutritionist knows exactly how many nutrients are in our crops and how much the cows need.

For example, we grow hay. There is a sugar component in hay. Sugar is energy. If you get a big crop and then it rains, it can wash a certain percentage of that energy away. That’s why farmers work hard. They work late into the night to beat the next rain storm. We need the sugar in the hay to help it go through a curing period. We need certain numbers to meet a cow’s nutritional needs in a cost effective manner. If everything goes right, there is a nice fermentation process. If you don’t get the sugar in the crop, you don’t get fermentation.

When we grow a crop, it is based on getting that crop to a certain quality. None of it is in our control. We won’t know the nutrient content until October. Farming requires an optimistic attitude that Mother Nature will cooperate. It’s always a gamble, but it pays off when we see our cows enjoying their fresh, high-quality feed every day.

Posted in Dairy News | Comments Off on What do cows eat?

Healing and Patience

I am Dean’s mother, Sandy Strauss. As his Mother, I wanted to share some news about Dean’s health for everyone who cares about him. In July, Dean experienced sudden cardiac arrest while driving home from a dairy meeting in St. Paul.

Dean’s last blog and Facebook post is titled, “No One Does It Alone” and is about how farming takes a team. It is also about remembering to thank the people who got you where you are and expressing gratitude for your team every day. It was posted on July 17th. Little did Dean know how much his life would change the next day. Dean loved everything he did each day. He loved his family and let it show.

We all went 36 hours without sleep as we went to St. Paul with the help of our son-in-law, Rick, daughter, Sara, and Jen Walsh. The first 24-48 hours were critical. This was the magic timeline to see if Dean would survive. He was at Regions Hospital in St. Paul for many weeks. He is now at Select Specialty Care Hospital in West Allis. We hope he will be transferred to a rehabilitation center in the near future. Hopefully closer.

Through all of this, we have had many calls, texts and messages sent to us on Dean’s behalf. We have also met many new people filled with love and concern for Dean, mainly in prayer form. If you ask what can be done? Prayers for healing and patience.

While traveling to see him this week, I wrote “The sky is bright and the clouds are white, yet nothing is right.” We are going to hold our shields together in prayer and believe the Lord is going to make things right in time and patience. Our strength comes from Heaven Above.

Dean’s office is empty now, but his presence is there. The farm goes on with his team he has always expressed so much gratitude for.

As the four families who run Majestic Crossing Dairy, we have decided to continue the farm’s blog and Facebook page. It is what Dean would want.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. We will continue to keep you updated on Dean’s health.

Posted in Dairy News | Comments Off on Healing and Patience