A while back the light bulb burned out in our master closet. It is one of those big fluorescent fixtures that puts out an obnoxious amount of light for its size. Like most dairy farmers, we were too busy (or tired) to make the time to go to the store to buy a bulb.

For this reason, we spent an entire two weeks squinting as we searched for what to wear. As it turns out, the light is actually not as much of a necessity as I originally thought. Though for a few days my routine was a little out of sorts, I got dressed each day just the same as I had when the light was on.

Now I know, light switches and dairy farms don’t have much in common. But I think the humans who operate them do. I started to wonder if I didn’t really need the light in the closet, how many other things do I do or depend on just because they are routine? Transitioning to robotic milking has given me a lot of learning opportunities over the last few years to see firsthand how routines are a double-edged sword.

When we first changed milking systems, we were forced to critically evaluate everything we had been doing and how we were going to do it in a different environment. Every process had to be questioned as to why we were doing it, how we were doing it and will continuing to do it help us move closer to the goals we had for the future? For the first while we felt like the world had been turned upside down as we learned how to manage a new system. Time moved on, and just as human nature would have it, we settled into a nice new routine.

During a visit with a consultant recently, I asked a question about one topic to which he responded with a solution more focused on another area. An area that hadn’t had a lot of changes since we made the switch to robots. Hmmm, cue the “aha” moment – a light bulb if you will. In just a few short years, we had let routine creep into places without us stopping to reevaluate – not much different from turning on a light switch just because it’s there.


So whether it’s how I spend the hours of my day, what synch programs we are using, our dry cow program or what we eat for breakfast, I’m hoping I can start looking at things in a different light, maybe one that depends a little less on routine and a little more on what is best for today.  end mark

Laura Flory