Nine thousand pounds of cheese are produced daily from Johnson Farms in Daggett. It's all possible with more than 1,000 dairy cows. Johnson Farms is the largest dairy farm in the U.P.
In the final installment of our series, "Somebody's Gotta Do It,' I went see just how dirty managing those cows can get.
Growing up in Iowa, I expected my day to be easy and actually pretty clean. I was taken off-guard when my mentors insisted I put on some of their boots. It wasn't long before I understood why.
"Oh yeah, there's manure involved," says summer intern Lauren Quis.
Johnson Dairy Farm's cows exist in free range stalls meaning they can wander where they please, so waste gets deposited everywhere. That's where the skidster comes into the picture. They've got to keep the barn pathways cleared and slip and hazard-free, so an employee mans the machine for hours everyday, scooping up manure and pushing it down grate holes.
Keeping the cows in check requires an operation of about 20 people, all with specialty jobs. Just my luck , I stopped by for a visit the same day as the dairy veterinarian, and he's got a very special job.
"I reach in rectally into the cow, and when I reach in rectally, I feel through the wall of the rectum," says Dr. Barry When, dairy veterinarian. "I can feel the cervix, I can tell you if you're pregnant, 30 or 40 days."
He's examined about 400,000 cows in his career, but he didn't have much advice for first timers.
Personally, it wasn't an experience I'd ever like to repeat. But for some, this working environment is just part of a passion.
"It's a really cool experience because I want to sell bull semen someday," Quis said.
The employees I talked to said this is just an example of the future of dairy farms, and the use of genetics and technology has actually made things easier and cleaner.