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1107 PD: Overall Wit & Wisdom

Bill Chitwood Published on 29 October 2007

Good things must come to an end


Well, all good things must come to an end. We recently just dispersed our dairy herd. We sold 776 lots that went to 11 states. We had a good sale. The Lord blessed us even more than we had been praying for.

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Last year was one of the driest years on record, and this one will no doubt be one of the wettest years in our part of the country. Luckily, by sale day the cows had recovered from the wet year after we gave them a little good feed. All went well.

We had been in the dairy business for 59 years. My father started the dairy in 1948, when I was a sophomore in high school. Outside of one time when a tornado hit the dairy, we milked and fed the cows and calves twice or three times a day for 59 years. If you did the milking just twice a day, that would be 43,070 times by my math, but I never was good at math.

My father was in the garage and car business, and in 1945 he had a heart attack and thought he was going to die. Well, by 1948 he had not died, so he decided to go into the dairy business. I have wondered many a time what would have happened to me if he had kept that Ford Agency. I probably would have been rich and on my third or fourth wife. That seems to be the way most of those big car dealers are.

Although I had helped several of my neighbors when they had cattle sales years ago, I was dreading pushing all those cows in the ring and then helping load all of them out after the sale. Well, it was not that way at all at our sale. The auction company came four days before the sale and helped to sort the cattle into groups like they wanted. Next came some people, and they put up the sale ring and tent. The day of the sale there must have been 15 or so people to do all the work, and they stayed until almost all of the cattle were loaded. All I had to do was walk around and talk to all the nice people who came to the sale.

The thing most people wanted to ask me was, “What are you going to do now that you don’t have any cows to milk?” I told one of the fellows with the auction company, who was pushing the cows into the ring, I was going to look for a job that did not make me sweat.
He said, “Go ask Robert (the man who was reading pedigrees). He knows where all of those jobs are.”

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When people come to your farm for a few days and do a good job, you get a little acquainted with them. I cannot say enough about the auction people. They did their job, and I don’t know of a single complaint.

The dairy business has changed quite a bit in 59 years. We started in 1948 with used equipment, including old Surge buckets that hung under the belly of the cows on a strap, and we carried the milk into the other room to pour it into a strainer sitting in a 10-gallon can. Each day a truck came to pick up the cans and left us the cans that he picked up yesterday for us to wash to be used that evening.

I graduated from college in June of 1955 and that fall we started working on a milking parlor and sold our first tank of milk January 1956. The barn was done the middle of December, but my dad did not really trust the milk co-op, so he said, “Let’s just wait until the first of the new year to use the tank, so the co-op doesn’t get mixed up.”

Look where the dairy business has come in these last 59 years. Then, all milk was produced locally. Now, it travels clear across the country. Then, most all dairymen or their families milked the cows. Now, very few do all the milking.

I think the biggest change in the dairy business has been that we have gone from dairy people to business people. A lot of us have not made the transition or are struggling to do so.

As I look to the future, I pray that it will be good. What will the dairy business be like 10 years from now? Will everybody be using sexed semen? We have been using it for two years and have not had a bull calf yet.

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As times change, and they have changed more in my life than in the last 1,000 years, in my opinion, all that really matters is if you can be happy. In the Bible, Paul tells us that if we can be happy in whatever we do, we will get the joy out of life that the Lord intends for us all. PD

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