Friday, January 16, 2015

I have an old friend from high school that took an alternate route.

 He was voted most likely to succeed by our graduating class, and also if I recall correctly, he was best dressed.

He's a micro dairy farmer in Vermont these days.

He dropped out of college and did a few things here and there and likely got caught up in the times and looked into the back to the earth movement that was big back in the 60s and 70s.

The movement didn't really go anywhere because much of it was was based on ideas, many of them half baked. Just about every hippie thing that came along had a lot of ideas but no nuts and bolts solidity behind it.

I recall one of the few things I saw hippies do that actually worked. It was a kitchen at the Powder Ridge mucic festival and to me it looked like it was run by a couple of engineering-type dropouts.

They did it by using methods used by commercial food and military food services and the guys running it were disciplined. Funny that for a group of hippies to get something to work they had to use methods developed by the Establishment that the so hated.

Right now there are a lot of micro breweries and people are aware of them. There are also a number of micro dairies that are out there that are likely known only to their customers.

These little micro dairies basically produce milk and maybe a few milk products. They are not big commercial dairies like the Mennonite guy I met owns. The Mennonite  has well over 100 cows and basically milks them with a robot of some sort.

My friend has four cows and I believe he uses a milking machine of some sort and has whatever it takes to process basic milk. He also runs a company selling equipment for micro dairies.

I think, but may be wrong, that he was part of the back to earth movement in the early 70s and decided to get real about it. He decided to give it a go and produce milk in smaller quantities than the bigger commercial farms by feeding his cows basic grass and not using antibiotics or anything artificial.

There's something to be said for this besides the quality of the milk he produces. I don't want to get into that as I am basically uncivilized and drink milk that I get at the supermarket. I'm pretty happy with that.

The thing that interests me is that he actually decided to make a viable little part time business out of it. It takes a lot of work to run something like this. The cows have to be milked on schedule and taken care of. This means getting up in the morning and putting on your work clothes seven days a week. Cows don't stop producing milk on weekends and must be milked.

I'm sure he has to deal with customers and collect money for his milk because if he didn't he would not have a micro dairy. Sad as it is, things like this have to at least break even. You can't run a small business on good vibes, peace, love and flowers. You need cash.

It's a nuts and bolts business even if it is small. There are machines that need to be taken care of and maintained. He has to have a barn and probably some sort of office to keep things organized.

There are bills to pay and he has to collect from his customers just like any other business.

There are problems to deal with such as ground hogs tearing a field up. They dig holes and a cow stepping into one can become crippled. Vetinarian bills are an expense as is replacing a cow.

The average hippie will babble on about how the ground hog needs a place to live. So will my friend, most likely but you can be pretty sure he wants the ground hogs to live somewhere else. If they don't they are likely to be removed one way or another.

I think that he's managed to enter capitalism on his own terms. I know that there are a lot of things I have entered on my terms so I do understand the way he's playing the game. I respect him for that.

He took his hippie type values, sifted through and added a dose of reality and hard work to it and has what he wants out of life.

Of course, some people just don't seem to get it. They ask him why the guy voted most likely to succeed didn't become a big shot lawyer or investment banker instead of a micro dairy farmer in Vermont.

What these people fail to realize is that he did succeed. He's living his dream and has had a good, long marriage and raised a couple kids and is doing what he wants.

If that isn't success, I don't know what is.

Of course, it's no surprise he ended up this way because after all, he was voted most likely to succeed back in high school.

Then again sometimes those high school senior superlatives don't live up to their expectations. After all, he was voted as best dressed. However, dairy farmers are not known for stylish three piece suits. Maybe we should have picked someone else for best dressed.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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