Author: Will Gilmer

Excuse me, are those Dalmatian cows?

Growing up, I always looked forward to showing my family’s dairy cows during the “fair season” that ran from late summer through mid-autumn. Blue ribbons, clipping and grooming, friendships made in the barn that turned into rivalries once inside the show ring…all happy memories. The most vivid of these memories has has nothing to do with ribbons or showmanship, though, but is of a question I was asked at the 1990 West Alabama Fair in Tuscaloosa.
The Holstein breed show had ended, and my heifers were bedded down on some straw in the barn adjacent to the show ring. The barn was open to the public, and a steady stream of “city folk” filed past my heifers and I. Wide-eyed kids my age who apparently had never seen a cow before would ask to pet my heifers, while many of their parents looked as if it was their first close encounter of the bovine kind as well. As I sat on a hay bale between two of my heifers thinking how envious those city kids must be, a tall, thin, dark-haired gentleman wearing glasses approached and asked me the one question I’ll never forget…
“Excuse me, are those Dalmatian cows?”
Now I’ll admit, as an 11 year old kid I was really annoyed by this question. After all, how could a grown man NOT know that Dalmatians are dogs and that these were Holstein heifers? For a split-second I thought of giving a smarty-pants answer like, “Yeah, they love riding on fire trucks!,” but instead simply and dryly replied that they were actually Holsteins. My father and a few other dairymen within earshot responded differently. One immediately spit out a mouthful of boiled peanuts in a fit of laughter, while the others managed to at least muffle their laughter until the man had passed by.
my sister & I with a couple of “Dalmatian cows” (1991)
Looking back, I guess that was the moment that I realized not everyone knew about agriculture. It took me a few years to grasp the significance of that fact, and as an adult I have learned not to be surprised by some of the questions I’m asked. After all, most Americans have not had much (if any) direct experience with agriculture, and fewer and fewer students receive the benefit of agri-science classes in their schools. The responsibility falls upon those of us involved with agriculture to inform the rest of the public about our industry, and it is a responsibility we all need to take seriously and embrace.
So to all of you non-farmers that might read this blog post, please don’t shy away from asking your questions. We “aggies” are are eager for the opportunity to share our knowledge with you…just please forgive us if we occasionally crack a smile or chuckle at some of your questions.
Especially if you’re asking about Dalmatian cows.

Excuse me, are those Dalmatian cows?

Growing up, I always looked forward to showing my family’s dairy cows during the “fair season” that ran from late summer through mid-autumn. Blue ribbons, clipping and grooming, friendships made in the barn that turned into rivalries once inside the show ring…all happy memories. The most vivid of these memories has has nothing to do with ribbons or showmanship, though, but is of a question I was asked at the 1990 West Alabama Fair in Tuscaloosa.
The Holstein breed show had ended, and my heifers were bedded down on some straw in the barn adjacent to the show ring. The barn was open to the public, and a steady stream of “city folk” filed past my heifers and I. Wide-eyed kids my age who apparently had never seen a cow before would ask to pet my heifers, while many of their parents looked as if it was their first close encounter of the bovine kind as well. As I sat on a hay bale between two of my heifers thinking how envious those city kids must be, a tall, thin, dark-haired gentleman wearing glasses approached and asked me the one question I’ll never forget…
“Excuse me, are those Dalmatian cows?”
Now I’ll admit, as an 11 year old kid I was really annoyed by this question. After all, how could a grown man NOT know that Dalmatians are dogs and that these were Holstein heifers? For a split-second I thought of giving a smarty-pants answer like, “Yeah, they love riding on fire trucks!,” but instead simply and dryly replied that they were actually Holsteins. My father and a few other dairymen within earshot responded differently. One immediately spit out a mouthful of boiled peanuts in a fit of laughter, while the others managed to at least muffle their laughter until the man had passed by.
my sister & I with a couple of “Dalmatian cows” (1991)
Looking back, I guess that was the moment that I realized not everyone knew about agriculture. It took me a few years to grasp the significance of that fact, and as an adult I have learned not to be surprised by some of the questions I’m asked. After all, most Americans have not had much (if any) direct experience with agriculture, and fewer and fewer students receive the benefit of agri-science classes in their schools. The responsibility falls upon those of us involved with agriculture to inform the rest of the public about our industry, and it is a responsibility we all need to take seriously and embrace.
So to all of you non-farmers that might read this blog post, please don’t shy away from asking your questions. We “aggies” are are eager for the opportunity to share our knowledge with you…just please forgive us if we occasionally crack a smile or chuckle at some of your questions.
Especially if you’re asking about Dalmatian cows.

2013 Silage Harvest: Week 6 Recap

Another week of silage harvest is in the books, and a few more tons are in the pit. Wet, soft ground early in the week and equipment trouble on Wednesday limited us to only 12 hours of actual chopping time, but we were fairly efficient when we were run…

2013 Silage Harvest: Week 6 Recap

Another week of silage harvest is in the books, and a few more tons are in the pit. Wet, soft ground early in the week and equipment trouble on Wednesday limited us to only 12 hours of actual chopping time, but we were fairly efficient when we were run…

2013 Silage Harvest: Week 5 Recap

Last week’s harvest yielded several tons of sorghum silage per acre, but there’s not a whole lot else worth mentioning (maybe that’s a good thing). We got a good day in Monday, skipped Tuesday, had another full day of harvesting on Wednesday, and then …

2013 Silage Harvest: Week 5 Recap

Last week’s harvest yielded several tons of sorghum silage per acre, but there’s not a whole lot else worth mentioning (maybe that’s a good thing). We got a good day in Monday, skipped Tuesday, had another full day of harvesting on Wednesday, and then …

2013 Silage Harvest: Week 4 Recap

Our silage harvest continued on this week, chopping two rows of sorghum at a time at the slow but steady pace of two acres an hour. By the end of the week, three more fields had been harvested and our cows have roughly 180 more tons of feed ready to en…

2013 Silage Harvest: Week 4 Recap

Our silage harvest continued on this week, chopping two rows of sorghum at a time at the slow but steady pace of two acres an hour. By the end of the week, three more fields had been harvested and our cows have roughly 180 more tons of feed ready to en…

A Bad, BAD Bull Run

We are in the midst of a bull run. A bad, bad bull run. I am talking about a bull run of epic proportions.#113 with her newborn bull calfTo clarify, a “bull run” is what we in the dairy business call a string or streak of bull calves being born as oppo…

A Bad, BAD Bull Run

We are in the midst of a bull run. A bad, bad bull run. I am talking about a bull run of epic proportions.#113 with her newborn bull calfTo clarify, a “bull run” is what we in the dairy business call a string or streak of bull calves being born as oppo…