Student cooperative operates university dairy herd

By Catie Hall
On November 22, 2013

  • I'm glad I don't have to work for limp-wristed men anymore who would fire me to demonstrate their multicultural bona fides. Nothing crushes the heart of a cry-baby like finding out that mommy doesn't care.

    All of the best respected so-called democracies are run by entrenched elites. However corrosive their words for each other, their conduct demonstrates an elaborate professional courtesy, a live-and-let-live approach. They almost never, for instance, send each other to jail for even the most egregious offenses. Jail is for common people. Why, you might get raped there! There is also a mutual understanding as to how fortunes are acquired in politics, and a willingness not to question each other's sources of wealth.

    Governments propagandize their citizenry from grade school on up about the benefits of democracy. Children learn that they are ruled with the consent of the governed. Not that anybody offers them a consent form to sign. They later learn that paying taxes, performing military service, observing extensive and often nonsensical rules about where a person is allowed to be, what he is allowed to ingest, and how he is allowed to drive are also by consent. Lastly, they learn that there are many things they are certainly not allowed to say, and wise not even to think. Many observations that were no more than everyday knowledge to their grandparents' generation are now called hate speech. Do you question the number given for victims of the Holocaust, six million? Do you question the wisdom of gay marriage? Do you wonder how many rapes are actually committed on campus academia? And even worse, who commits them? Better shut up before they lock you up!

    Jesus was an advocate for the poor. He even kicked over tables when he saw the church had mad a Den of thieves out of his Fathers house. This was because the rich had taken over the only place that the poor and downtrodden were allowed to worship. With that said, Jesus also spoke if a man does not work, he does not eat. As I stated over on the rights page. Capitalism is the pursuit to happiness and the RIGHT to Keep the FRUITS of YOUR labor. Learn it!. Anonymous #comment 2

It's 4:15 in the morning. The sun is sleeping along with the rest of the University of New Hampshire campus. But if you drive down Mast Road, the cows are already awake.

Dung might as well be dangling in front of your face for how putrid it smells. The shower sound you hear is not water, but actually cow excrement falling into a grate behind the animal's large udder. Those big doe-eyes stare at you, anxiously waiting for relief.

UNH students Peter Tripp and Brittany Loon waited in the lobby before their 4:30 a.m. shift started, petting the white barn cat and talking about how all the other cows are mean to one cow, Cupcake. 

Loon commented on her motivational force for waking up while the sky still looked soaked in the night. 

"I can get up in the morning for cows," Loon said. "Pretty much nothing else." 

Some of the chains and gate doors are rusty in the barn. The cows do not know the distinction between a clean floor and one covered in their own waste. Nor do they seem to care. The "ladies" get rowdy if they think they should've been milked already, and then they moo in anger at their caretakers. But despite poking cows when they stop mid-walk and waking up at 4 a.m. at least once a week, the students love their jobs. 

"I know that I don't want to do it forever," student Hana Krauss said, "but I love it now."

Cooperative Real Education in Agricultural Management, fondly known as CREAM, "is a student-run cooperative in which 25-30 UNH students, with the help of advisors, operate and manage a small business. This business is a 25- [to] 30-cow registered Holstein dairy herd," according to the organization's webpage.

"Yep, we are livin' the dream," Loon said as she donned her boots from the "boot room." Her boots look as if they were dipped in water and then in sawdust, as sawdust covers the soles like five o'clock shadow.

When their classmate, Liz Clark, joined them, they divided up the chores.

Tripp commented with sarcasm how CREAMers say, "I don't know, I'll do whatever you don't want to do" for chores.

"OK, I'll just sit here and you do everything," Loon said with a grin on her face.

In the end, Clark decided on milking and Loon took cleaning duty. Tripp offered to drive the dreaded "Data Ranger," which is supposed to ration out the different types of feed for the cows. The Data Ranger looks like a miniature Zamboni with a snow blower shoot for the feed. It's loud and slow, and the students complain about how it hardly works.

"I want to say [my favorite part is] feeding the cows, but that always annoys me 30 seconds in," Tripp said. "... Your pants are the most delicious things they've ever tasted, and they won't stop [nibbling] you."

Loon chimed in with her own sentiments about taking care of cows, overlapping Tripp until they were talking at the same time.

"Feeding the cows, you think it's going to be fun and adorable," Loon said, "but they're really annoying when you go to clean them out because they want to run past you and go frolic and be free. The newest babies, they're always trying to suck on every article of clothing you own. Then your pants are wet, and it's super glamorous." 

If the feeding isn't done on time, the cows get antsy.

"Peter is really quick at feeding but for those of us who are slower, like me, they'll start to moo," Loon said as she laid down new bedding for the cows. "Like if the feed isn't out here when they come back from milking, they get a little vocal. The younger cows are a lot more vocal than the older cows. I'm not really sure why. Just 'cause they're teenagers; they like to be loud." 

Even though the CREAMers joke about their duties, Loon doesn't really mind some of the less glorious parts. 

"I think [it's worth it]," Loon said. "I mean, the cows need to be taken care of, and I like doing it."

In fact, though CREAMers have to shovel manure and push cows to get them to move, these UNH students are privileged. According to the CREAM webpage, "CREAM is one of only two programs in the country in which students actively manage a dairy herd."

And the students find reasons to appreciate it, grit and all.

"My favorite was when there was a tissue over here and all the cows had to stop and smell the tissue," Clark said, pointing to a spot on the ground. "And it messed up the whole routine." 

None of the cows mind slipping their tongues into their nostrils several times a minute, and spectators can watch a trail of saliva - or snot - travel on the tongue from one place to another. Though some might find the slime trail disgusting or off-putting, the CREAM students laugh about it.

"I love when they do that," Clark said. "Some of them will do one nostril, then the other nostril..."

The students also appreciated when they got new equipment.

"This is an awesome new door," Tripp said when he first walked into the barn and saw a new swinging door that replaced a chain contraption. 

Loon said she appreciates knowing that if she has questions about the 12 cows in her section, she can ask for help.

"It's pretty nice [that] if we have questions and we're not really sure what we're supposed to do, the research staff is always here," Loon said, "so we can ask them questions if we really need to. And usually it's pertaining to the Data Ranger." 

While many people might be turned off by the idea taking care of cows, CREAM students are able to appreciate it for what it is. 

"It's initially kind of overwhelming," Clark said. "Once you get going ... you realize that it's a really efficient way of doing things here." 

Though it might have been overwhelming at first, some of the students have had experience with this kind of work for a long time. 

Loon is a biomedical science major, pre-veterinarian. She's used to the cows because of her background with animals, and one day she wants to have a dairy farm.

"I come from a small farm so I'm used to getting up in the morning," Loon said. "I grew up with cows. I literally can't smell it anymore. And it's a problem because I can't tell if my clothes smell."

Clark said she has worked in several horse barns. She is so familiar with her farm life that it's dictating her sleep schedule. 

"One time, my alarm didn't go off and I still woke up on time," Clark laughed. "I'm getting used to it now. My other job I have to get up at five for, so for me, it's weird that I'll wake up by like six everyday even if I don't have anything to do. Just bizarre."

"I come from suburbia, so I'm really great at the afternoon shifts," Tripp said, while he, Clark, and Loon had an easy laugh at the end of their shift, close to 6 a.m.

To sum up her job, Loon simply said, "I love it."

Galina Kinsella, a biomedical science major with future aspirations of being a veterinarian, is another grateful CREAMer. 

"I didn't think I liked cows or would enjoy working with them, but CREAM is giving me so much more than I thought I would ever get in a class," Kinsella said in an email. "I'm realizing how much I really love working with the cows, and how important agriculture really is in all of our lives. I also never realized how much there is to farming."

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