A hoof trimmer from Illinois calls a client in Missouri, who calls a friend in Indiana, who calls the dairy farmers closest to exit 57 on Interstate 64 where a breakdown has occurred. No, this isn’t one of those “a fireman, a policeman and a doctor walk into a bar” type of jokes; this is a situation that occurred around 10 p.m. on a weekend following the North American Livestock Expo.

Schwoeppe somula
Somula Schwoeppe is a dairy producer in Indiana.

You see, some young exhibitors on their way home from competing at the North American experienced truck trouble on the interstate, and they were in a bad spot. Who do you call when you’re broke down and desperate on the side of the highway? A heavy-duty truck and a trailer load of cattle experiencing a breakdown is a problem with its own unique challenges versus a simple flat tire. AAA and Billie Bob’s or Tony Joe’s local towing probably isn’t going to be Johnny on the Spot with what is needed to get you up and running and headed back down the road to home or wherever you need to get to with your bovine beauties. All’s well that ends well, and the dairy farmers/first responders provided assistance and a clean pen with fresh water and hay for the cows to stretch out in while the truck was being repaired. They were on their way home after a brief pit stop.

Doug Lindauer, Jake Lindauer and Craig Lindauer

Who do you call when you’re broke down in the middle of milking, feeding or filling the silo? The clock is ticking, daylight is fading and the frustration is rising – who do you depend on to show up and help you get back to work? Stopping is not an option, and we only do it when it’s forced. It’s a little bit like the old song on the radio, “The Fireman.” You need a problem solver and you need them on the farm five minutes ago.

An interesting thing I have noticed is for the most part on our farm, the people on the emergency call list happen to drive red trucks. When we see that red truck pulling in the driveway, our breathing gets a little easier, our hearts beat a little slower, tension ebbs and we start to imagine how soon we’re going to be able to get back to work.

The people in the red trucks are the ones who take the calls in the middle of their kids’ ballgames, during graduation parties, or even one really nice guy who answered during a winter storm in the middle of New Year’s Eve mass and helped switch out a frozen motor on a feed conveyor belt. When asked why he answered at the time, he said, “I knew you were desperate or you wouldn’t have called in the first place.”


These are the people who show up and don’t quit until the job is done. As farmers, we take pride in working long hours, up before anyone else and working long after dark. The people in the red trucks work with us. They show up when we call and stay until the job is done, even if it means working around the clock to make repairs or install new equipment between milkings. Part of the satisfaction we gain from farming is that we have no schedule. Sure, the cows are going to get milked, but there is an unknown challenge waiting for you every day as a farmer, and it is often a daylong battle to see chores completed.

Mark Fischer

Our dairy community is such a small world. We are all connected through cooperatives, promotion groups, breed associations, veterinarians, nutritionists and other consultants. The old saying you are two people away from knowing everyone in the world is for sure the truth in the world of dairy. We are all connected; we share similar values and beliefs. Regardless of our differences and disagreements, we are all attempting to do the same thing – produce nutritious, delicious milk for the nourishment of others.  We are in the business of care. We care for our cows; we care for our communities; and we care for one another. The next time a neighbor needs a hand, be like the person in the red truck: Don’t hesitate to reach out and help.  end mark

Somula Schwoeppe

PHOTO 1: It is always exciting to see the next generation come into the business, and it is great to know we will have future years of service. Drew Dearing has joined the dairy service and supply business of his father, Corey. Corey stated his most memorable service call to date is a 28-hour chiller installation marathon, where they worked, snacked and went back to work.

PHOTO 2: From left to right, Doug Lindauer, Jake Lindauer and Craig Lindauer are dairy farmers/first responders and just the guys you need when you're broke down on the interstate with a load of cows.

PHOTO 3: Dairy emergencies never happen at noon on Wednesday; whether it be a weekend or holiday, Mark Fischer is a first class “show up" guy. Photos by Somula Schwoeppe.