Thanksgiving, Midwest Dairy Expo, and Christmas are right around the corner. For me, that means I've been on the phone for the last couple weeks trying to line up relief milkers and feeders so we can be away from the farm for awhile. We've found it extremely important to budget for and take regular time off. As hard as it may be sometimes to leave when we know we've got two heifers and a cow due to calve, we do manage to take a milking off here and there and get away for the weekend every now and then.
We learned early in our career that something may go wrong while we're gone, but it likely would have gone wrong even if we were home. The long term mental and physical costs of not taking time off are greater than just about anything that can go wrong on the farm.
Part of getting away without worrying the whole time is having good relief milkers and feeders we can trust. The people who milk and feed for us do a great job with the cows and never seem to have much trouble while we're gone. We pay them fairly (at least I hope they think so) for their time in exchange for the service they provide us.
Despite our good working relationships, I always find it hard to pick up the phone to call and ask for relief. I'm getting better at it, but I still feel like I'm calling to ask them to donate a kidney or something. It might have something to do with not wanting to take advantage of a good thing or worrying about wearing out our welcome.
Calling for relief becomes doubly hard when the holidays are involved. I figure being with family and friends is as important to our relief helpers as it is to us. I'll muster up the courage anyway, swallow my fear of rejection, and dial the numbers, hoping someone will feel drawn to spending a couple days with our cows.