Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we’re introducing you to another one of WW Homestead Dairy's farmers. Stephanie is one of Tom Weighner’s four daughters. She started working at Weighner Brothers Farms in junior high and has been around ever since.
Steph’s main focus on the farm is herd health, calf health and keeping her four wild ones out of trouble.
Usually, she lets Marshall handle the morning milking while she gets the kids up and ready to go for the day. They do school in the house and then everyone heads outside to do the rest of morning chores. If any cows or calves are sick, she treats them or calls her veterinarian (also her sister) to take care of them.
Steph also handles all of the breeding on the farm. She uses a GEA monitoring system to keep track of each cow’s activity level. Every cow gets to wears a special necklace with an activity tracker. When a cow comes into heat it triggers an alert on the computer which tells her they are ready to breed. She pulls up the cow’s page and checks their activity level to confirm (or heads to the barn to watch them for a bit). Currently, she is using a ProCross breeding program, along with aAa mating system. The ProCross system uses Montbeliarde, Holstein and the Swedish Red dairy breeds. aAa looks at the cows and takes their weaknesses and strengths into account, then matches them with compatible bulls. You could say she’s a little bit of a cow matchmaker.
In the afternoons Steph milks the cows, feeds calves and checks everyone over to make sure they don’t need any special attention. All the milk she feeds the calves comes from the cow herd. She milks a cow into a pail, pasteurizes it to kill any bad bacteria and then feeds it to the calves.
In her spare time she likes to plan new adventures, like driving 16 hours to pick up a rare breed of sheep or designing her new strawberry patch (berries coming your way in 2021.) Marshall and her plant sweet corn every spring to sell it in August. She also enjoys morel mushroom hunting, Gator rides and boating on the Mississippi. Steph’s favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is strawberry sundaes from the ice cream parlor or coffee from the coffee barn.