"If you had asked me even 15 years ago if I'd ever be a dairy farmer, I would have laughed and thought you were crazy! Who knew I would find my calling caring for our cows and our land?" - Carrie Mess
Hey everyone! My name is Carrie Mess and I am a Wisconsin beef producer by way of being a dairy farmer. My husband and I farm along with his parents and our two little boys, near Lake Mills. We milk around 100 cows, a mix of Holstein, Jersey, Normande, and crosses. We also grow crops on about 250 acres. It's definitely enough to keep us hopping!
One of the unique things about our farm is that instead of our barns being full of your typical black and white Holstein or little brown Jersey cows, we have a mix of cows. Many years ago I discovered a breed of cows called Normande. They are originally from France and are considered a dual-purpose breed. This means that they are bred to not only produce milk but also have a frame that carries more muscle than a typical dairy breed. I liked their unique look, they are typically brindle and white with patch eyes, so I decided to breed a few. Their calm disposition quickly won me over and now we have lots of half Normande and a handful of ¾ Normande cows and heifers on the farm. They milk a similar amount to a Jersey cow and we've loved the beef from the Normande steers we've raised.
Farming is never exactly what anyone would call easy, but sometimes it's really hard. Spring in general is one of those extra difficult times. In one week, we have three major things that need to happen. First, we need to finish cutting and chopping our rye crop. Our heifers eat rye as part of their daily feed. We also need to start cutting and chopping our alfalfa crop. Once the rye is off we need to finish planting corn on the fields that had rye growing in them. That's lots of work all on its own but to add more stress, we need to time all of this perfectly so that the crop isn't either too dry or too wet when it's harvested. Oh, and we need Mother Nature to cooperate and turn off the sprinklers! The feed we make this week will be part of the feed that our cows eat for the next year, so it's important that we get it right.
Where are my brisket lovers at? Corned or smoked, I love them both! It's hard to believe that it wasn't that long ago that I was a city kid that didn't know anything about where my favorite cut of beef started. In fact if you had asked me even 15 years ago if I'd ever be a dairy farmer, I would have laughed and thought you were crazy! Who knew I would find my calling caring for our cows and our land? I really love sharing what I have learned about beef, dairy and all things agriculture with other people.