Tuesday, June 11, 2013


     When I was young June Dairy Month was a special time for me.  Both sides of my family were dairymen.  Mom's folks milked Holsteins and Dad milked and showed Guernseys.  I am partial to the Guernsey breed and wonder now what happened to it?
      Mom has a photo packed away of me and my brother, dad, and gram pa with Mr. JC Penney.  Mr. Penney had one of the largest Guernsey farms in the country.  Dad used to show and judge in 4-H and showed afterwards.  I remember finding the white coveralls that used to be worn in the show ring and I wore them out as a kid.  Dairy cattle are always judged by the handler in white coveralls.  I think it is still the same today.
     When we ended home delivery of raw Guernsey milk and cream we joined the Cream O Gold dairy in Hutchinson Kansas, owning and operating the Wichita franchise.  At one time there were 5 of our routes running in town.  At the time there were still small dairy's some still delivering raw milk.  The Nelsons, Mies (pick up only), Maple street dairy, then there was De Coursey, Meadow Gold, Ramsey, and of course, Steffens.
      I remember that the Guernsey cow was the most gentle cow on the farm.  For many years growing up whenever the TV shows had a cow on it was the same Guernsey cow.  I imagine she lived 30 years.  But the bulls were the meanest there ever was.  I remember when our bull Mr. D was being put down, he could not be loaded in anything.  He was put down with a lot of difficulty right in the catching pen and sent to become hamburger.  I don't remember but I bet it was the toughest hamburger we ever ate.
     When I started freelance writing I was submitting work to an Ag paper and doing an assigned piece for June dairy month I did the piece on a dairy in our area.  I thought I would save my Guernsey lament for another time.  Well some 20 years later I guess it is about time.
     You see the Guernsey breed was so special because the milk had a golden color to it.  It was only out done by the Jerseys for butterfat content.  Then butterfat went out of style and farmers had to increase volume to meet the tight costs of production to survive, and the public was pushed to cut down on milk as a 'health measure'.  HUH?
     I find no Guernsey Journal anymore.  It may still be there but the last one I saw was so small that it could not still be going.  Hoard's Cattleman is still the main publication for dairy.  I am so happy that the herd that Hoards owns is Guernsey.
     I see the push for organic and healthy nearby production of food and see all the little dairy's specializing in value added products and still wonder, where is the Guernsey?  There is a reason that the milk has a golden color, it is because it is the only breed that has natural occurring Beta Caratine.  The same thing that carrots are famous for.  It is good for your eyes and healthier.
     I wish there was a Guernsey dairy close by that I could buy raw milk again.  But in many states a farmer can and has gone to prison for selling raw milk.  I grew up on it and I know of no one that was ever made sick by it.
     So I hope I see an organic dairy someday rediscover the GOLDEN GUERNSEY and bring back something healthy from oblivion.

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