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Real Dairy Wives: Losing all my blankets

Tara Vander Dussen for Progressive Dairyman Published on 01 June 2017
Vander Dussen family

Every day, dairy farmers go to great lengths to care for their cows. In this series from Dairy MAX, Tara Vander Dussen of New Mexico shares her story about caring for newborn calves during Winter Storm Goliath.

During the cold months on our dairy, we take extra precautions to care for our newborn calves. As many as four or five calves are born every day at our dairy. We try to get them indoors and dried off as quickly as possible. We have a heater in the barn and heat lamps above each of them, and they each have warm bottles of milk. We want them to be nice and toasty! Once a day, we move them to the calf barn down the road where they can receive even more individualized care.

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But in late 2015, we had a major snowstorm. You might have heard of it: Winter Storm Goliath.

Well, Goliath created some extremely cold temperatures and 2 feet of snow that blocked roads for two to three days. That meant we had almost 15 newborns to care for at our dairy, and they needed extra warmth. Our dairy only had so many blankets and towels on hand, and during the storm there was no “running to town” to get more supplies, since the roads were closed.

calf in blanket

Luckily, our house is only about 200 steps to the dairy barn. I collected every blanket I could from my house, including most of the blankets I store in my coffee table, old college dorm blankets, throw blankets and even some extra blankets from my daughter’s nursery, trying to prioritize the nonnecessity blankets as go-to.

Well, the storm passed and now we are back to business as usual, but I never got my blankets back. It’s OK though, because every time we have a colder night, I can go into the barn and still see my family’s blankets laid down for the calves to keep them warm. Seeing them reminds me how important our cows and calves are to us.  end mark

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Check out Tara’s blog, New Mexico Milkmaid, or follow her on Twitter.

PHOTO 1: Tara and Daniel Vander Dussen operate a dairy in New Mexico, where they are raising their family including daughters Gwenevere (pictured) and new baby Anneliese.

PHOTO 2: During a devastating winter storm, Tara Vander Dussen kept her calves warm with blankets from her home. Photos provided by Tara Vander Dussen.

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