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Dairy farmers play lots of different games in a year

By BARB LUMLEY Columnist Published: May 13, 2017 5:00 AM

The one thing a dairy farmer never has time for is watching television game shows. Yet every day they participate in games like what we see on television. Men and women rise every morning to spin the "Wheel of Fortune" in dairy farming. There are no guarantees as to where the arrow will stop. It could be good spins throughout the day with the weather cooperating, the machinery working and all going well with the dairy herd, or it could be "lose a turn" at having a good day with a visit from the milk inspector or numerous problems to be dealt with.

Dairy farmers have to participate with Mother Nature in the "Amazing Race" to get crops planted, grown and harvested. Will there be too much rain or drought conditions, lots of warm sunshine or late frosts, will the harvesting be done before the snow falls? It is a never-ending race and the farmers have to hope they can make it to the finish line and have a good supply of feed for their livestock.

Dairy farmers play "What's My Line" as they decide which breed of dairy cattle they want to raise and work with. There are many factors that come in to play -- color, size, production, cost, the ability of the chosen breed to handle the environment they are in -- or should they just go along with the breed that they were raised with and know.

Dairy farmers play "The Match Game" every day no matter which breed of dairy cattle they have chosen. They must select the bulls to be used in breeding or flushing their cows. The goal is to have outstanding calves to raise and improvement in each generation. There are so many choices -- young or old bulls -- proven or unproven -- genomics or not -- all with outstanding pedigrees and information behind them. No matter how much research they do or information they study, there is that "bit of luck" that is still involved. If they are lucky enough to breed that very special heifer or cow, you may see them "Dancing with the Stars" at World Dairy Expo!

At times dairy farmers come up against "The Wall" and there are no balls to drop for needed cash. So they must visit their bankers and lenders and suggest "Let's Make a Deal" so they can continue with their dairy operations. Making the decisions there can be very difficult for all players involved. Will the banker put enough money in the "briefcase" and will the farmer make the right choice that allows him to stay in the game?

Also, dairy farmers are in "Jeopardy!" The category is dairy farming. The answer is no one knows. The question: How many dairy farmers will go out of business in the next year? Every dairy farmer I know wants to be a "Survivor." They pray that their role as a dairy farmer won't be cancelled. When asked "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire," most dairy farmers will answer, "'To Tell the Truth,' we just want to make a decent living so we can own our farms, pay our bills and have a comfortable family life. If 'The Price Is Right,' we can do that, but currently the price we receive for our milk is all wrong." Every dairy farmer just wants to enjoy "The Game of Life" on the farm and keep on playing.


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