Hi Deja. We have 35 milkers and 25 heifers in the barn plus 2-4 unweaned calves. So winter morning chores do take us 3 hours. The actual miking only takes about 1 hour. It is all the extra chores that take the time. Like you, we do a lot of hand work. We have an upright silo with an unloader, but we unload into a push type forage cart. So we have to fork out the haylage into the manger. (As a side note, we didn't even have a silo unloader until 1998! Before that, my husband had to fork the haylage out of the silo as well!! Can you believe that, in this day and age?) We feed both strings of cows 2 feedings of haylage each morning. After the haylage, we feed grain. And just before we leave the barn for the morning, we feed baled hay. And of course, the stalls have to be hoed out and re-bedded and the gutter cleaners have to be run. We also have the unweaned calves that are on the pail that need to be fed. But we think that 3 hours isn't too bad, considering it used to take 4 hours. We used to house our heifers in a run-in shed and that took us a lot longer to do chores. In 2005, we down-sized and brought all the animals into our cow barn. Boy, are we happy we did that! Our heifers are growing much better during the winter, we catch them in heat better, and they get pregnant much quicker. The fact that chores are quicker is just a great bonus. Winter evening chores go quicker, usually only 2 hours. We don't feed haylage at night. We only feed chopped dry hay. That is something that is very unusual about our farm. We don't have the hired help or family help to handle a lot of baled hay. We do make a little but most of the dry hay we put up is chopped. We dry it in the fields and use our forage harvester to chop it. Then we use our forage blower and blow it into our hay mow. (We have a very big old barn with a huge hay mow.) To feed it, we hand pitch it down the pitching holes into big piles on each side and hand fork it out. The cows love it and they can't sort it like they can baled hay. So it is very economical feed, no wastage. But it does take time to pitch it down and fork it out. So both morning and night winter chores really do take us time. That's why we love the summer. We pasture all summer, and only bring the cows in to milk. We only have to grain them during milking, and we don't feed anything extra in the summer. The heifers and dry cows are out on pasture the whole time. We do go out each morning and check on them and grain them in a feeder waggon. We can get summer chores done in about an 1 1/2 hours. Which is great, since in the summer, we are eager to get out in the fields and do the crop work. As far as your question on maple sugaring, it really has been a mild winter. That may play a big part in how our season goes. It certainly isn't a normal winter here, so I hope it doesn't hurt our maple production. We just don't know how it will effect us. Although it has been warm, we haven't started tapping yet. It seems just too early. Steve plans on tapping in mid February, like he always does. I hope that answers your questions. Thanks for the comments. It is nice to communicate with dairy farmers other than our local neighbors. That is why I joined Proud to Dairy. But like you, we also have a Facebook site for non-farmers, under our farm name "Fleurys Maple Hill Farm". We want to help to educate the non-farm public about farm life and how we care for our cows and our land. We want to explain the trials and tribulations of farming but we also want to show the pleasures of farming and why we wouldn't trade our way of life for any other type of work! I'll check out your Facebook page. Happy farming!!
Deja, Jerseys really are different from Holsteins, aren't they? I worked with Holsteins for 15 years before I meet my husband and started working with his Jerseys. It did take me awhile to get used to the differences. Jerseys seem to have very distinct personalities, minds of their own, and they sure can be stubborn and free with their feet. But I do love them since they have a lot of great qualities. They also have the funniest trick of playing with their tongues. We get a kick out of watching our cows stick their tongues out and flip them all around. Do your cows do that too? It really is an established Jersey trait. Anyway, good luck with your new herd.