Farm the Wonka Way
As family farms continue to disappear across the country, we have struggled to avoid the same fate. When I took over management of our farm thirteen years ago, I quickly realized we couldn't survive if we continued to operate the same old way. We needed to adapt. Like Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory, I knew we had to think outside the box and not be afraid to try new things. It was important that we not only increased efficiency of farm operations, we also needed to enhance the quality of life for our animals by letting them live as naturally as possible. I felt that the key was to lessen human involvement, which, as a bonus, would also improve the safety of farm employees. I came to think of this philosophy as the "Wonka Way."
I developed three tools to help bring about the changes I felt were necessary to enact my vision:
The Pharm Huggy is an adjustable insulated medicine holder that keeps vaccines protected from sunlight and heat, therefore ensuring the viability of the medicine even as I drive from field to field checking my herd. When a new calf is born I am able to tag, band, and vaccinate simultaneously and confidently. The calf will then require no further human involvement.
Wonka Wean Machine
The traditional weaning process is very difficult for both the animals and the humans working with them. Typically, cows and their calves are abruptly separated when the calf is around six months old. The Wonka Wean Machine completely eliminates this traumatic practice by allowing calves to wean themselves with no human involvement. It consists of a gate with a space only large enough for the calf to creep forward to a fresh field. The calf may return to its mother but she cannot follow through the gate. Eventually the calf leaves its mother behind, much like a child who leaves for college. It is an efficient, natural, and far more humane way of achieving the same result.
Mobile Vet Pack
The Mobile Vet Pack is simply a convenient storage case that contains everything I might need to address an issue with herd health. It stores and protects a dart gun, expensive medicines, darts, cleaning supplies, CO2 cartridges, syringes, needles, and a guide to critical medicine information like dosage, application, and effects. Again, the benefit is efficiency and shortening the time span of human involvement.
Farming the Wonka Way is really about finding the best and safest way to achieve and maintain a healthy, humanely raised herd, which in turn produces a superior beef product.