By: Grace Platte
A Breath of Fresh Air
That is what it is like to learn and talk to Miriam Cook, a 5th generational dairy farmer in the heart of Michigan. I was met at the car by Miriam as she opened my door to tell me how excited she is to participate in a Harvest Hangout with Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT- and get the opportunity to speak about the things she loves the most- the Michigan Dairy Industry and her beloved dairy farm.
The Cook Dairy farm was established in 1893 by Frank Cook, which is Miriam’s great, great grandpa. 127 years later their farm is thriving and being run daily by Tom Cook, Miriam’s dad. Miriam is currently a sophomore at Purdue University in Indiana, where she is furthering her education with the thought of possibly taking over the family farm always in the back of her head.
Getting ready and setting up in the parlor to go live with our Harvest Hangout it became very evident that Miriam was not only educated about the dairy industry and her farm, but there was a passion there for her that was so special. You know when you speak with someone and their eyes light up, their body language is relaxed, and they have a constant smile on their face- this was Miriam the whole duration of my time spent with her on their farm from the minute we started in the parlor to our last goodbyes. To really understand Miriam’s depth of knowledge and love for what she does, check out her Harvest Hangout posted on Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT’s facebook page! Within the video Miriam answers tough questions not only about her farm but about the Michigan Dairy Industry as a whole- here she bridged the gap between consumers and producers with grace and enthusiasm.
The Cook Dairy farm is a 300 cow rotational dairy which means they are always milking at least 300 cows, 365 days a year. What makes The Cook Dairy Farm special is that they are a seasonal grazing dairy with over 230 acres soily dedicated to pasture. Each group of cows are rotated daily, never staying in one place for too long. In each pasture there are automatic waters with grain and minerals always present for the cows and heifers to feed off at their own leisure. Heifers which are female cows that have not had a calf (baby) yet, are further out on their pastured land as milking cows stay in close proximity to the farm and the parlor as they are brought in two times a day to get milked. In the summer the only cows that stay on the farm in barns are cows ready to have their calves and they say in the maternity barn, everyone else stays out in the pasture until the snow hits. In the winter all calves, heifers, and cows are housed in barns. All feed is grown and harvested at the Cook Dairy Farm where they roughly farm 800 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and wheat.
After my tour, I feel safe in saying if the next generation of dairy farmers are just like Miriam Cook, not only is The Cook Dairy Farm in great hands so is the Michigan Dairy Industry. I wish the Cook family another 127 years of success and growth. Michigan is full of great advocates for agriculture and they are always excited to share with consumers how your food gets to your plate.
Pour yourself an extra glass of milk, or give yourself an extra scoop of ice cream today for the hard-working men and women in the Michigan Dairy Industry- and really appreciate all of the work that is done before your milk even hits the shelves.