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Farm and Dairy article

Here is a well written article on Bridgewater Dairy.  

Farm & Dairy Article

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Wheelin’ Sportsman

It’s hard to imagine it’s been 4 years since we nervously agreed to allow the National Wild Turkey Federation host their “Wheelin’ Sportsman” event on our property.  The biggest concern; how can we trust a group on non-farmers and outsiders to protect our land during the most critical season of our farming operation.  If that ground or seed that we place in the ground is not treated with the utmost care it will not produce a plant. Without a plant growing we won’t have a crop, and with out a crop we will need to figure out another way to feed our cows.

Earlier this week the local NWTF group contacted me to remind me the kick-off dinner for the event would be Friday. It went through my mind how much I have learned to trust this group. Last year, we were so busy that even though they reminded us, we completely forgot they were out hunting until Sunday after they completed hunting. This year with a new farm manager seriously focused on getting the tractors rolling and getting seed on the ground, we needed to inform him why people would be wandering around our land.

In all reality, we have the easy part. Bridgewater Dairy along with a group of other farmers donate their land for this special weekend. This is the easy part. The handicapped hunters, and the volunteers deserve to be honored for the work they will be doing this weekend. This weekend there are nearly 20 handicapped hunters, and between 1-3 volunteers per hunter depending on the mobility of the hunter. That is a big group for NW Ohio!

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Not all of the hunters could make it for the kick-off dinner, but we were excited to see those that could make it out!

Thanks to the National Wild Turkey Federation for organizing this event every year, and treating our land and environment with the utmost respect!  www.nwtf.org

Drones are among us…

While the rapid adoption of drone’s might be a scary addition to the farming world, there are some pretty cool things being done with drone’s here in NW Indiana.  

Check out these cool photos taken of our manure hauling operation. IMG_2351IMG_2344 IMG_2352

 

 

*Bridgewater Dairy and its entities do not allow the use of drones over its operations or properties without written consent.

Winter 2013-2014

Yes, this has been a tough winter for all of us.

Here is a round up of this winter’s numbers so far. Winter By The Numbers

The snowiest winter and the fifth coldest winter ever, and if the forecast holds up we may be getting more snow next week.

Yep, we are ready for summer!!! Although this snow might not melt until June at this point.

If you haven’t read our post in January about “milking cows in a snow storm” you should and then add 4 more snow storms only slightly less stressful than the first. Yep, it’s been a challenging year.

The dig out. Milking cows in a snow storm. Continued..

It feels like a month passed by in the last 3 days. We are all glad we made it through one of the worst storms in 20 years.

Our new landscape.
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I’m sure each and everyone of us could tell stories of harrowing situations. We could probably write a book! Maybe, I’ll tell just a couple.

Around 3pm, Sunday January 5, 2013, it seemed the storm has missed us. And yet, in just a few short hours everyone in Midwest knew this was big.

Suddenly, Leon, Eric, and Chris became Snowcat operators. The only problem was we were just in 4wd pickups. We had employees that needed rides home from work, and needed to make sure the next shift could to continue the care for our cows throughout the storm.

Keeping the roads clear near the dairy facilities became paramount. Bridgewater had Adam on our big John Deere 9630 tractor with a silage push blade. Adam made the snow storm at our Montpelier location look an inch of snow, from a transportation perspective. But the Sub-Zero temperatures were taking their toll at all 3 locations.

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Bridgewater – Indiana Dairy in Fremont, Indiana and Oakshade Dairy in Lyons, Ohio weren’t as fortunate. Unfortunately, these two locations fought difficult road conditions and undersized equipment along with the challenges of sub-zero weather.

Amazingly, not one drop of milk was lost. The trucking companies went through heroic situations to get the milk out. Now, that may not seem that important to most, but let me explain. Not only is it our source of income, but it is also tied to the health of the animals and the morale of our employees. If we were to discontinue the routine process of assisting the mother cows let down their milk, they would quickly be subject to many types of infections. As any mother that has breast-fed a child knows that as the mammary gland gets full anticipating their child (calf’s) next feeding the pressure can be intense. Unless mom let’s her milk down, she will be prone to infection. But there are also baby calves that need fed, and mother cows that just calved, that also need TLC (Tender Loving Care). We love milk! We work hard for our cows, and care for the quality of our milk. When any employee witnesses good quality milk being poured down the drain it is one of the top 10 depressing things we see on a dairy. Even though our work during these times is about the cows health, if milk goes down the drain because a milk truck couldn’t make it to the farm, it can give everyone that is working through the frigid temperatures a major sense of loss.

Truthfully, If we are getting the cows taken care of during these times, that’s really all that matters, but keeping morale up is hard enough when faced with tough times!

Northrup Trucking, Bynum Transport, and Indian River Transport pushed hard into difficult situations to get the milk out. At one point at Bridgewater – Indiana, Moody and Crew Farms plowed a road through a farm field so a loaded milk truck could get to a better part of the road.

Not only were we dealing with logistics of employee’s and milk, we were dealing with wind chills of 30 below zero. We have great respect for the dairy farms in Kansas, North Dakota, and Wisconsin deal with this stuff all the time, but we are just not prepared for this type of extreme weather.

Over the last few weeks we have been preparing our water troughs, and other sensitive water lines for extremely cold temperatures, but in our area 0 degrees is extreme. 15 below zero is unthinkable! We barely survived the unthinkable. I don’t think any cows went with out water for longer than a few hours. If we wouldn’t have had hard working individuals working to keep the water flowing, some cows might have gone with out water for 2-3 days. Just imagine for a minute working with water outside for hours on end when the temperatures are below zero. “Hero’s!!”

Then, there are the calf feeders. hauling milk and feeding milk to calves. In frigid temperatures. The calves are protected, but the guys doing the work are not, they are faced with the elements while caring for these fragile little creatures.

I could go on and on, this is tough stuff. We worked hard and we have awesome teams at all three locations that dug in and helped us survive.

There were a lot of “Hero’s” through this storm, and we employ a lot of them!

As the dig out continued into Tuesday January 7, and Wednesday January 8, Bridgewater township was ecstatic to have Adam and the 9630 help clean some roads they couldn’t touch. In Morenci, Michigan we still had a couple key people who lived on roads that hadn’t been cleaned since Sunday. Since all the tasks at Oakshade had been accomplished, we sent our payloader out to help.

Yep it’s been a rough week. Below are some pictures of what Dairy Farming in Antartica looks like. We are ready to move back to Ohio!

I should add there are dozens of individuals that helped us at each location, and as time permits I may write more stories about the issues that they encountered.

Brian Shaw, Jason Bryant at Oakshade kept operations moving, despite a very limited crew.

Juan, Eric and Lowell (Butch) went above and beyond to keep everything clicking at Bridgewater Montpelier, Oh.

Eric, Guadalupe and Alejandro barely saw their families for three days as they kept Bridgewater-Indiana alive.

Again, it all comes down to people, and team work. I love these cows, and the people that make everything click.

Thank you!!

Bridgewater Dairy. Montpelier, Oh. (Pictured below)
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Bridgewater – Indiana Dairy (pictured below)
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Oakshade Dairy (pictured below)
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These are just stories about our experience in Northwest Ohio during the storm. We are incredibly thankful for the road crews, emergency health professionals, fuel station attendants, hardware stores and all the individuals that helped keep our counties functioning! Thank You!

We are also aware that other dairy farms did not fare as well as we did. Their stories are important as well.

Please recognize that farmers all over the world are working hard to put food on your table.

Extreme weather!!!

We are expecting 8-14 inches of Snow today followed by extremely cold temperatures. We will have employee’s feeding, milking cows, and helping mother cows give birth in this extreme weather (-15). I pray for all the livestock farmers, road crews, and others who will be working outside through this extreme weather. That they stay safe, warm, and that all their equipment continues to function properly.

An interesting note. The cows won’t mind the temperatures, they would prefer a 15 degree day over a 75 degree day any time. They are protected from the wind chill and the snow with the curtains on the barns.

Bridgewater Farming Operations Manager

Some of you may have noticed that we have begun looking for a Farm Operations Manager.  I wanted to update all the curious people out there with what is going on in the Bridgewater Dairy Group.

Bridgewater Dairy has had a farm operation that worked in conjunction with the dairy ever since Bridgewater started  milking cows.  In the early years a neighboring farmer did an excellent job custom farming our land and helping us feed our cows.  As time progressed, our neighbor grew and with the opportunities in front of him we mutually decided to consider other options.

In 2008, Bridgewater Farming was born, and Greg Dietsch was hired and he put together an exceptional team of individuals that have made Bridgewater Farming the success it is today.  As we hired Greg, we knew that his family had a farm, and that someday the call to go home and work with his dad on the home farm might prevail.

We were all hoping that call might not come for a few years, but the time has come.  Greg Dietsch will continue to be involved with Bridgewater Farming this year, and I’m sure at some small level for years to come.  Just to repeat, Greg Dietsch will continue as Farm Manager as we transition into whoever might rise to the occasion.

We also know that Bridgewater Farming is a team and not about one individual.  Although, we are all a little broken hearted, we have a great team!  We look forward to training new people and continuing to grow as a company, and the best part is that Greg will continue to a be great resource of knowledge and expertise for years to come.

And what better way to transition. We are thankful and hopeful that whoever winds up in this position can learn a lot from Greg and the team we already have this year.

If you have any other questions feel free to call Chris, Leon, Greg or email us using the contact page.