On a hot, humid August afternoon, I visited with Will Gilmer on the Gilmer Dairy Farm, located in Lamar County, Alabama. You may be familiar with Will from Twitter and the beautiful pictures he shares from his tractor. Will’s pictures don’t do justice to the farm’s rolling green hills or the blanket of peacefulness that covers his family farm. It is a special place with special people who have lived and worked its land for more than 60 years.
Will’s dad, David Gilmer, walked me through the twice-daily milking procedure for their Holstein herd. They milk 160 cows twice a day using a rapid-exit parlor with a conventional milk production system. What I found surprising was how the herd enters the milking parlor. An orange flag is raised high on a pole and cows walk calmly toward the parlor. Two men facilitate the milking of 20 cows at a time and complete the procedure in a couple of hours.
On a dairy farm, there is never any down time. From dawn until dusk, all hands are busy with animal care, growing silage, harvesting crops, milking cows, paying invoices, and repairing farm equipment. That’s dedication. That’s dairy farming.
If you can connect with local farmers and understand more about agriculture in your state, take advantage of the opportunity. Consumers need to understand more about where their food comes from and get to know the farm families—like the Gilmers—who make it possible.
Mary Martin Nordness, MA, RDN, LD, CHES