Friday, September 14, 2012

Farmer Bright's Dairy

Today we welcome Ryan Bright, a.k.a. "Farmer Bright" as he shares with us his story of how he came to work full time on a dairy farm alongside his father and un

When people ask me how long I've been farming I always have a hard time answering them. I've been a full time dairy farmer since I graduated the University of Tennessee with a degree in Animal Science, but my mom would tell you that my first word was "tractor." I guess you could say farming is in my blood.

I am part of the 5th generation to live and work on our Tennessee dairy farm. My earliest memories are going with my father to the farm. Every summer I had two baby calves to raise that I was responsible for. While I might have terrorized some innocent farm cats, I had plenty of chores to keep me busy growing up. I think the lessons I learned through hard work and responsibility as a child greatly influenced the values I hold now. 

Today we milk around 100 Holstein dairy cows. My day begins before the sun comes up when the first thing I do is to bring the cows in from the field. While those are being milked I feed our dry cows (that is the pregnant cows) and all of our calves. After that I help finish milking in the milk barn and finally eat breakfast! And you are right if you think milk is the centerpiece of my meal! The middle part of the day is spent working in the fields or fixing things until it is time to feed and milk again.

We raise wheat, rye, and rye grass, in the winter for silage that we store in upright silos. In the summer we plant corn, pearl millet, and sudan sorghum for silage. We also bale as much hay as we can. Everything we harvest is for the cows. 

I work on the farm alongside my father and uncle. They have been full time farming since their father passed away while they were in their teens. My grandmother was the biggest advocate for agriculture in my life before I even recognized what she was doing. I knew she was very proud of our farm that her parents and grandparents had begun. My first bit of agvocacy was being in part of a slide show on our farm she made to bring the Agriculture in the Classroom project to Tennessee. She instilled in me the belief that farmers need to share their story with consumers. I've often wondered what she would think of how farmers use social media to speak to others if she were still alive today and how she might use it.

I am on Twitter @farmerbright and I also write two blogs. The Udder Side is told from the tongue-in-cheek perspective of the cows on our dairy reporting on The Farmer. Silo Skies is a more straight forward blog that I use to share what we're doing on the farm and other agriculture issues.

Thanks for sharing your story Ryan! It take dedicated and hard working people like Ryan to provide food to feed America each day. Remember - if you or someone you know would like to be featured as a Face of Agriculture, please contact us! We need your story!