Friday, August 10, 2012

The Egg, Cow Comfort, and USA Women's Soccer!

It has been an exciting last week of work here at the Cornell University Government Relations Office in Albany! I have only a few days left and I will be home again by the end of next week. It is really strange to think about how this time of year I am usually getting ready to go back to school, to lead backpacking trips and take classes, and now its just regular life, no classes, no school, and I get to go on my own backpacking trips. I am eagerly awaiting updates from the jobs I have applied to, some I have interviewed for, some have emailed me and said they are reviewing applications, so now its just a waiting game. I am excited to see what works out, and where exactly, because I applied to jobs all over the place! 

Albany has been an interesting small city to live in, and it was hard trying not to put down my roots too deep because I knew I would be leaving. Last week I got to see Brandi Carlile at the Egg, which is a really awesome venue. Its literally shaped like an egg, and the acoustics were incredible, especially when they performed one song unplugged. I have done a couple of different projects this week, mostly dairy related for Lee. First I put together a list of Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, Directors, Agricultural Specialists, and contact information organized by County. This information will help people that he works with find the best CCE folks to contact with agricultural questions and projects. It was interesting to see each counties web pages, and the diversity in programs they do.

This is the Egg in the Fall, and yes those trees are trimmed to be square shaped. 
I have also been doing research on cow comfort and milk production to help Lee prepare for a meeting this week. Basically the research is showing that things like improving bedding, and temperature control with fans and misting, and adding in brushes for cows to groom themselves on (see pic below) can improve milk yield. Cow's can't speak for themselves, but we know they need plenty of water, good feed, fresh air, and a soft and clean place to rest. They need to be able to stand or lie down easily and have sound footing. In the Dairy Cattle Principles class I took last fall, I remember taking about how happy cows make more milk. Some even say that giving cows names and talking to them with their name, as an individual can increase yields. Some talk about music choices in the milking barn and how that impacts yield. Other talk about the handlers in general, saying that with kind and calm handlers cows will have higher production. All of these things are basically getting at cow comfort, and while I can't necessarily vouch for the science backing up all of the ideas, I must say they are very interesting hypotheses! 

Yesterday I did other research on Wisconsin and some new initiatives they have to increase dairy production in the state. This program is called 30X20 because they are trying to get up to 30 billion pounds of milk per year by 2020. Currently Wisconsin is ranked as #2 in US dairy production, with 26.1 billion pounds of milk in 2011. That means they would really have to ramp up production to meet these goals. Most people know Wisconsin as the #1 cheese producer in the US, but they need the milk to make that cheese, and so Governor Scott Walker started this plan to meet their demands in the state.  While growing dairy production is important to meet the demands of the processors, it is important to address other relevant issues like labor, CAFO's, small farm support, the environment, and cost of production. 

Speaking of dairy, one of the official sponsors of the Olympics this year is Chobani, with their incredible story of success. Yesterday I had a blast watching the U.S. Women's Soccer team kick some butt against Japan in the Gold Medal match in London. Yesterday's game had some highlights and incredible goals, especially the header by Carli Llyod. Soccer has always been my sport, I have always loved playing and the fact that it can really bring people together as a global sport. All you need is a ball. It was so satisfying to see the women bring in another gold medal, and avenge their loss from the 2011 World Cup.  I love the joy in this photo...