Summer time is coming here in Holland. Shining sun and hot temperature.
My parents booked a day to relax. My brother, little sisters and I have to care for the farm when they are away.
We are looking forward to that day, because it’s a good experience to take responsibility and care of all the animals, the farm and ourselves.
On Thursday morning my parents did the last things and then they were gone.
So when we got home from school, we had to do the milking and feeding of the cows, feeding the sheep’s and make a dinner for ourselves.
We provide our own tasks, I did milking the cows and made dinner.
My brother is feeding all the cows , one of my little sisters is feeding the sheep and the goats, and the other sister has been feeding the calves when we were at school.
So a great family farm, if you see!
After we drank a cup of tea, we made the last round over the farm and then it’s bedtime.
The cows come in to be milked on their own. After they are milked they are free to go back into the pasture. On the other site of the barn is no rest for some cows. A cow is getting up and down, she´s restless and is nearly due to give birth to her calf. We always hope for a female calf, then she can stay on the farm and gave milk for Beemster cheese.
But we leave the cow alone by a hutch with clean straw. She then first starts to have the calf naturally by herself. When the natural birth is taking a long time or it seems like the mother is in any kind of pain, then we help the cow and pull the calf with a rope. Then the cow is quickly relieved and clear to meet her child. After the birth we give the cow energy boost with vitamins and goodies which helps the cow to recover. Then the calf is going to his/her own hutch, to prevent any sickness.
The weather is not what it has to be for all the farmers.
Now the busy time is coming. Every day looking forward what the weather is for the next whole week.
Rainy, rainy, rainy. Then I see my father shaking his head..
This weekend is for much farmers a weekend for making silage for wintertime. But we may not forget: nice weather in Holland, it’s never for a long time!
But this weekend nice weather is coming according to the weather station. The grass is high and ready to be mowed.
Yesterday I was cycling, I did see much farmers mowing, spreading and raking the grass with tractors and machines.
And when I was coming home from school, my father said: We are going mowing this weekend!
This is a nice period, the nice weather, the smell from the grass, the cows are outside and see the little sheep grow up.
The spring was started, all eighty sheep have lambed last month. At the moment we have 161 lambs. When they are born, we separate out the mother with her lambs in a pen for a week, to connect.
Then the family can go by other families of sheep. Before they go outside with the other families, we must trim their feet. We do it by ourselves, it is good for our relation with the sheep! We trim the sheep’s hooves every year after lambing.
The cows are beïng trimmed 60 days and 300 days after the confinement for precaution by problems with their claws.
We didn´t do all the cows by our own, the Business assistant comes to trim and check their hooves.
These people can do this faster and they have more experience. My father has also experience, but there is a lot to do on the farm, so sometimes he trims a cow when she´s lame.
Now the sheep have beautiful nails, also we have two goats with their kids.
Caring dairy is a project for farmers sponsored by the cooperative of Beemster.
Caring dairy is about sustainability, that means a good balance between:
Happy cows & Healthy cows, feeling good and living longer. (Welfare)
Happy Farmers: The farmer has to be able to earn a good sandwich with his farm. (economic healthy farm)
Happy earth: There is care for the environment where the farmers live and work. (Energy and climate)
Our cows can go outside, jumping by the grassland, grazing fresh grass. The cows can have a free life and sometimes I talk to them. That’s why Beemster cheese has a special taste.
The grass cheese with its special taste, delivers us one eurocent a liter milk extra..
This is what makes: Happy farmers and Happy cows.
But the cows can only be happy when they are healthy, then she can live longer at the Spaander farm.
The cows are very happy here on the farm. We make sure all the baby calves that are inside have a nice big hutch of straw to keep them warm and clean. When they get older they have a skippy ball that hangs by a rope, sometimes they play with it to push it around by hitting their head against it. It is very funny to watch. Then the calvess are going jump because they have fun with it. The cows from two year and older have a rubber mat on the floor, like having carpeting at home, so the cows can walk softly and it’s better for their feet.
The cows do have many things to make it comfortable and when the cow is happy: she gives more milk. Their bed is made of a mat between foam, then some clean straw. The cows can lay by a good, softy bed. Sometimes the cows have itch, the itching brush helps the cows.
Some farmers are happy with a small farm, and some farmers want a bigger farm to be happy, but all the farmers will have much milk, great cows and pleasure in their work on the farm. We have one of the biggest farms in the Beemster cooperative, about 130 cows. The calves are born year round on the farm. They are going away from their mother to a hutch (with straw and a heat lamp) because we don’t want any viruses from the cow to spread to the calves. After a week the bulls are going to a trader, he takes them to the market. The females stay on the farm and are going in a group together.
I am very excited to introduce myself in my first column. I´m Denise Spaander, a girl 18 years old living in North Holland on a farm with my parents, brother and two little sisters.
It´s a nice, quiet place, it can be a dream for all the farmers.
I like to be on the farm, looking for work that I can do to help my family.
When I come from school, I like to do some chores that keep me busy for a while before completing my homework. I am doing my second year on the secondary vocational education, learning to be a teacher, it´s a course of three years. After this course I want to do an agricultural school.
I would like to learn more about the cows, the things to be a farmer and maybe technologie.
My heart is by the farm and working with the animals. The animals will give you peace and joy, they give you something back.
My hobbies are going out, drinking a beer with friends and active things like cycling, walking, shopping and running.