Dairy Farming in a Storm

Yesterday, I posted two pictures Tim took on Saturday. In case you missed it:

storm, farm, pasture, tornado, organic

cows, storm, pasure, organic, rain, tornado,

We were enjoying a fun day at my parents’ celebrating our oldest’s birthday. Clouds started to appear in the sky and Tim suggested that we should make our way home. Tim doesn’t like to mix feed in the rain. Once we started on our way, we heard on the radio that townships in our county and neighboring counties were under a tornado warning. Hail, strong winds and funnel clouds were being report. Tim’s reaction was “ohh &*%$” , I drove a little faster.

We all know being outside in severe weather is a bad idea, but what do dairy farmers do when you have to get animals taken care of? This particular storm came at the most worse time. It was evening chore time. The first priorities were: getting equipment in, shed doors shut and getting the cows in from pasture. If the animals are out on pasture, we normally just leave them out there. That is the safest place for them. Cattle are pretty smart. They will find a low spot and usually lay down and wait out the storm.

We needed to get our milk cows in on this day, because needed to get them milked. We had no idea how long the storm was going to last and it is safer to get them in early than being out on the 4wheeler in the middle of the storm. The cows must of known something was up because as you can see in the second picture, they are all waiting at the gate to come home.

Once the cows are in, chores proceed as normal. That means, fighting rain, hail, wind and lightning to get everyone fed and cared for. If we know the storm is going to be short, we sometimes will wait on calf chores. But, if not, we buck up, put on our rain gear and head out. I have been feeding calves and seen the barn (200 feet away) be hit by lightning. (Talk about scary).

The safest place for us farmers to be in a tornado is our milking parlor, a three foot deep concrete pit. Milking goes on no matter the weather, we are more reliable than the post office. If the new fences have been put up before the storm, the cows are let right back out after they have been milked. Liked I said before, it is safer for them away from buildings and in a low pasture area.

Luckily, this particular storm just delivered marble sized hail, pouring rain and 60MPH winds for about an hour. None of the funnel clouds ever touched the ground. We know this will not be our last storm of the season.

I am such a worrier when it comes to storms. I hate knowing my husband is out there and not home safe. Tim is a true farmer and will protect the lives of his animals before his own. I knew Tim was frantically trying to get tasks done before the storm hit, so from our basement I was text messaging him weather updates. It really was the only thing I could do to help.

Meanwhile, the boys and I had a good time looking through the boxes of baby items under the basement stairs. It kept our minds off of what was happening outside.

Again, luckily this was a small storm (comparatively). We count our blessings that we were safe. Many others have not had that same fate this spring. We pray for everyone affected by all the terrible storms that have happened recently.


Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.