WHEN A FARMER IS BULLIED ONLINE

I think that everyone on social media has had a run in with a cyber bully at some point in time. I’ve certainly seen my share but thankfully my experiences on social media have been mostly positive. However, it’s the bullies that often keep farmers from speaking up about agriculture online and I tip my hat off to the few that soldier on.

Lately, I’ve had some conversations with fellow farmers who have reached out for advice. They have been attacked and have felt threatened by extreme activists. I feel for them. They have been bullied for doing something that the public wants us to do. They have been transparent and work hard to share the hows and whys of farm life with consumers. Sadly, there are those who want to silence the voices of the hard working farmers who have the courage to speak up and dispel the misinformation surrounding agriculture. Extremist may have empathy for animals or a passion for food but they sometimes lack compassion when it comes to fellow human beings. No one should feel threatened or scared to speak their mind – that includes farmers AND activists. You can get your point across without intimidation. So how do you protect yourself as a farmer on social media? Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years.

1) Don’t poke the bear. Agvocating is about dispelling misinformation and promoting the positives about agriculture. It’s not about making fun of people and their food choices. Avoid memes or posts that directly attacked an individual’s food choices. They only serve to stir the pot and you will only appear like a jerk to some of the people who support you. Don’t make yourself a target.

2) Engage in polite conversations even if you strongly disagree with the other person’s opinion. Many wars were started by a poor choice of words. Food is a passionate discussion for many and a simple conversation can quickly turn into an battle if level heads don’t prevail. Be the better person and take the high road. You will be respected by others who read your comments and follow your conversations.

3) If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. Often activists will comment on your post simply to make you angry and try to force you to engage. If you can’t bite your tongue then try to ignore them completely. If necessary, hide the comment to prevent your followers for getting sucked into a debate that solves nothing. Save your time for people who are willing to have a positive conversation.

4) If you are getting overwhelmed by hateful comments don’t hesitate to block the commenter and delete comments when necessary. It’s okay for people to comment with opposing views but if they directly attack you or use foul language it’s often wise to ban that person. Just be prepared. If you anger one extremist by blocking them, more extremists may follow.

5) Take screen shots of threatening comments and messages. Report the person to your social media platform or in extreme cases contact police if you feel like you or your family are at risk.

6) Organizations like Agriculture More Than Ever and Farm and Food Care are there to help farmers engage in positive conversations. They can offer tips to help protect you online.

Finally, remember that the hard times will pass and you are not alone. Don’t give in to the negativity. Reach out to other agvocates who have a public presence. We are in this together and here to help 🤗

Follow me on Facebook: Farmer Tim

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8 SIGNS THAT YOU MIGHT BE A FARMER DURING PLANTING SEASON

Many people forget that livestock farmers are also crop farmers. It’s not always easy cramming in time to plant crops when you already have a full day of caring for your animals. It’s no wonder we develop some of these symptoms.

1) blank stare from hours of looking out of the tractor at seemingly endless fields while planting

2) 5 o’clock shadow from not having time to look after your basic needs (it’s not like we need to look good for entertaining guests anyway) -I call this “beard farming” – I always grow an awesome crop

3) gaunt expression from skipping a meal or two (it’s okay, I could stand to lose a few pounds)

4) developing a nervous twitch from constantly stressing about the long range weather forecast ☔️☀️☔️☀️

5) stiff fingers from having a death grip on the tractor steering wheel (I need an auto-steer)

6) “planter’s brain” from fixating about all the work that needs to be done (symptoms include forgetting the names of your kids – I am happy if I remember if I even have kids – I think that I do…maybe)

7) bags under eyes from extra long days (remember that cows still need to be milked and fed) 😴

8) a little irritable from the lack of sleep and watching the fuel, seed and fertilizer bills pile up but that will quickly pass when planting is done

*Note: symptoms persist until planting is complete, but may reoccur a few days later when hay season starts 😫

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I Stink and I’m Proud Of It!

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I SMELL! Yep, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I’m stinky. Often it’s a faint whiff of something that you can’t quite put your finger on and at other times you can smell me coming from a mile away. It’s often a combination of dirt from working the land, of grease from repairing equipment, of new life from delivering a calf or of sweetness from harvesting hay but it’s always mixed with the smell of cow. I used to be paranoid that people could still smell me no matter how long I scrubbed in the shower but now I’m proud of my lingering scents. It’s the mark of hard work and passion for your job. Not everyone gets to smell like cows – just us lucky ones. 🐮 👃🏻 Hug anyone? 🤗

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How to Brush a Cow’s Teeth

I hate it when people share posts without reading all the content first, or checking the source to make sure that the information is true. That’s why I started my blog. I am trying to stop the spread of misinformation.

People are often surprised to hear that on our farm we brush our cow’s teeth three times a week. Some dairy farmers do it more often depending on the cow’s diet. Hay contains a lot of natural sugars that can be hard on a cow’s tooth enamel. I make up a special blend of barley seeds and water that works as a course toothpaste to rub off the tartar and plaque. Thankfully cows only have a lower set of front teeth. It makes brushing them so much easier. They quickly learn to open up for a brushing when they get a taste of the yummy barely mixture. The cow with the best teeth at the end of the month gets an award. It’s nothing much. Just a little “plaque” 😉. You never need to worry about Farmer Tim spreading misinformation on his page unless it’s APRIL FOOLS DAY!!!! Did I fool you? It’s easy to spread misinformation. Don’t be a fool. Do your research before you share anything, but this is one mistruth that I welcome you to share 🐮

Farmer Tim’s Top Ten Christmas Ideas for Farmers

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Farmers are notoriously hard to buy for.  I’ve had a number of people ask me for ideas so I thought that I would share a list of unique things that I have received as “farmer friendly” gifts over the years.  Of course we always appreciate socks and underwear but it’s always fun to get something a little different. I am also being price conscious because not everyone can afford drones and new tractors.

  1. Are you tired of having to take your boots off every time that you need to slip into the house for something? Perhaps you are annoyed at the farmer in your life for leaving a trail of straw and dirt throughout the house? These boot slippers by might be the perfect solution for keeping the peace in your household. I got mine from an old friend. For yours check out Bigfoot of Maine
  2. Its a myth that all dairy farmers love to wake up early.  Its especially hard for me to drag my butt out of bed on these dark winter mornings.  A dawn/dusk simulator light is the perfect solution.  Why not wake up to a gradual simulated sunrise?  It makes a world of difference when starting my day.  It is a really ‘bright’ idea for anyone. There are many styles to choose from. Here is one example Dawn Simulator Clock .
  3. Farming can be a lonely job so its always nice to be able to listen to music or podcasts around the barn or on the tractor.  Little speakers like one this link to your cell phone via Bluetooth.  Set one beside you while you unload hay or stack wood. It makes the job a little more bearable. My son bought me my iHome speaker at BestBuy.
  4. Farmers are passionate about what they do and they are proud of their agricultural roots. Do you have any of historic “junk” around the farm? Be creative and turn some old barn boards or rusty metal into something to treasure.  My son dug this old tractor seat out of one of our fields and turned it into a clock for me.
  5. Keep it local.  Farmers take pride in the food that they produce so they are always flattered when someone gifts them back some of their hard work.  As a dairy farmer I love getting unique artisan cheeses made with 100% Canadian milk like my favourite “Five Brothers” found at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese.  I also loved this gift of Canadian Cream made with fresh Ontario milk from Gretzky Estates
  6. I have yet to get one of these (hint, hint), but I would love a heated shirt, jacket, mitts or hoodie that is run by a small battery pack.  Its no fun spending time outside in the cold when the windchill can dip down to -40C here in Canada.  Heated clothing would help keep me cozy and also keep my muscles warm to help prevent strain injuries. There are many brands to choose from but I saw some at TSC
  7. I have a huge collection of jack knives partly because they are super handy but mostly because I keep misplacing them 😒. My absolute favourite knife is a folding utility knife.  It’s a ‘cut’ above the rest. They are the BEST knife for cutting strings off of hay bales and slicing balage plastic and mesh.  They are also extremely sharp so be careful! They often come with extra reversible blades and make great stocking stuffers. I found mine at Canadian Tire
  8. In this modern era of farming, cell phones are a must for most farmers.  Most of you already know that a durable phone case is important but in this cold weather a batter pack can come in handy.  It only takes minutes for the cold to zap a cell phone of power.  A batter pack can be a lifesaver in an emergency situation or when Farmer Tim needs to take that perfect photo and he has already blogged away his cell phones power 😒 They are also great for long days on the tractor when you don’t have a proper phone plug. I got my Insignia charger at BestBuy but there are many other kinds and sizes to choose from.
  9. We have a bigger collection of coffee mugs that we should have but there is one that stands out above the rest. It’s rugged and it keeps coffee hotter way longer than anyother mug that we’ve seen. Just don’t burn your tongue. My wife loves her Zojirushi mug! I want mine in IH red 😉
  10. Farmers are tied to the weather. It’s a love-hate relationship. I personally love weather gadgets. It could be a Galileo thermometer, a mini-weather station, a rain gauge, a thermometer, a barometer or my personal favourite gift from my wife – a storm glass . There are many shapes and sizes available.
  11. Okay I lied. I couldn’t stop at 10 ideas but this one should be on everyone’s list anyway. The truth is that farmers don’t really need gifts. They have everything that they want. They have animals to care for, land to nurture and families that love them. However, there is one thing that ever farmer could use – the gift of understanding. Simply understand that we will sometimes be late for supper and we may smell a tad barny from time to time. Happy shopping everyone. 👨‍🌾

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How are dairy farmers paid in Canada? 

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My father was a dairy farmer back in the pre 1970’s. He told me stories about how he would sell his milk to a nearby processor. The problem was that he was getting paid less for his milk than his neighbour across the road who sold his milk to a different processor.  It was a very unfair system and it was a discouraging time to be a milk producer.  

My dad milking in the early 1970’s. Photo credit:University of Guelph

Thankfully in the 1970’s Canada adopted the supply management system to help solve the fluctuating incomes of both the processor and the farmer. It helped to stabilize prices and maintain a constant supply of milk. It also ensures that milk was sourced from local family farms.
Every country has its own unique climate and infrastructure to deal with when it comes to the production and transportation of milk. The Canadian Dairy Commission uses a cost of production formula (COP) to address the expenses that dairy farmers have for producing milk in Canada. It takes into account costs like purchased feed, fuel, repairs, hydro etc. It also factors in the current economic conditions and the ability of consumers to pay. The formula helps to ensure that farmers get paid fairly based on their cost of production. It is important to note that Canadian dairy farmers do not rely on government subsidies so there are no hidden costs to consumers and the retail price in the store is set by the retailer – not the farmer. The amount farmers get paid for their milk depends on how much fat, protein and lactose is in the milk. Milk used for fluid consumption is worth more than milk that goes into less perishable products like cheese and butter and because milk is pooled the revenue depends on the end use of the milk. For more on this check out the Harmonized Milk Classification System.

Canadian farmers bid on quota. In basic terms a kilo of quota is approximately equal to one cow and allows a farmer to produce one kilogram of butterfat a day. The price of the quota varies across the provinces, but the amount of quota we hold determines how much milk we can ship. This helps to ensure that there is no flooding of the market, but it also ensures that there are no shortages either so that the domestic market is always filled. When the market grows, more quota is alloted. If you want to milk more cows you need to bid on more quota. There is a bit of flexibility each month to take into account things like changing cow numbers, feed quality changes etc., but farmers are expected to do their best to ship within their quotas. Programs have been put in place to help new entrants access quota so that they can start producing milk. Incentive days can also be issued at certain times of the year to encourage farmers to produce milk beyond their quota holdings. For example incentive days are often issued in the fall because historically at that time of year production drops while demand increases.  

There are a number of requirements that farmers must meet to be able to produce milk in Canada. First of all a liscence is required.  There is also a strong system of routine inspections and high milk quality and animal welfare standards that must be met at all times. Farm premises must also be Grade A at all times. Hefty fines and high milk quality standards discourage producers from not following regulations . Recently, the Dairy Farmers of Canada implemented their Pro-Action initiative. It ensures that all dairy farms across Canada meet the same standards when it comes to milk quality, food safety, animal care, traceability, biosecurity and the environment.  

In these days of global uncertainty, supply management has done its job of maintaining a constant supply of high quality milk from well cared for cows. It has allowed dairy farmers to make a decent living and invest their money back into their farms and their communities. It keeps the milk supply local from family farms and consumers receive a safe and nutritious product at a fair price. Farmers across the globe work hard to produce safe and nutritious food for consumers and they deserve to be paid fairly for that hard work and commitment.  

For more about Canadian dairy farming follow me on Facebook: Farmer Tim

Celebrating 20,000 Likes – What I’ve Learned From Social Media So Far

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Time flies when you are having fun! Just over two years ago I took the leap into the crazy world of social media. It’s been an amazing journey and I am deeply humbled by your support.  I never would have imagined that a shy, small town farmer from rural Ontario would get this far.  I have harvested some great advice and gained some great friends along the way.  Here are just a few things that I’ve learned from farming the fields of social media. 

1) Non-farmers don’t get the credit that they often deserve. Generally they know more than you think about agriculture and most of them are huge supporters of farmers. They hunger for knowledge and are keen on asking questions. Feed that hunger, always listen to what they have to say and above all treat them with respect. We can learn a great deal from each other. At the end of the day we are all just consumers looking for answers and seeking out the truth. 

2) A farmer is a farmer is a farmer no matter where you are in the world. The topography and climate may change, but I’ve found that farmers deal with the same issues everywhere. We all share the same passion and we need to support each other. 

3) Don’t feed the trolls. There is no point in arguing with extremists. Don’t get sucked into debates that will go nowhere. Save your time and energy for people who are willing to listen. Share good news stories and don’t dwell on negativity. 

4) Opening the doors of farm life on social media works. People want to hear our stories. They are listening and learning. The good news of agriculture is spreading. Keep the momentum going – share YOUR story. Check out Agriculture More Than Ever for more information about becoming an agvocate. If I can do it so can you! 

5) People can be cruel. That goes for both farmers and non-farmers. Enough said. 😒

6) My Farmer Tim puns must not be that bad or maybe you all are just gluttons for pun-ishment 😜

7) Be yourself always. Open your heart to the world. Be honest, be compassionate and most of all be kind. 

Thanks again for the support. I couldn’t do it without you. 🐮❤️

Follow me on FaceBook: Farmer Tim

HOW VANILLA GOT HER SPOTS 🐮

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Holstein cows are famous for their black and white and sometimes red and white spots. Their spots look amazing but they also perform an important function. They act like a fingerprint. Each set of spots is unique and they help the cows indentify each other. However, we sometimes have a calf that is born mostly black or mostly white. This can cause confusion because there is no way for the other cattle to identify them as Holsteins. These solid coloured calves also known as “Blanks” are often shunned from the herd. They are bullied and pushed away from feed bunks and water troughs. It breaks my heart. 

Reusable laminated cow spot.


Thankfully there is a solution. I’ve made some laminated reusable spots. I have a set of white ones for calves that are born mostly black and a set of black ones for calves born mostly white. Heavy duty Velcro attached to the back of the spots holds them in place. I introduce the calves with the artificial spots to the rest of the herd.  Surprisingly, it’s takes only 12-24 hours for them to be fully accepted into the herd’s social hierarchy. Once I am sure that they are accepted I take away one spot at a time over a period of days. Eventually,  the herd adapts to the missing spots and the calf is finally accepted without the spots. 

Vanilla with her artificial spots.

 

Vanilla without her artificial spots.


The internet is full of misinformation. As a dairy farmer I feel that I need to speak up and tell my story and share the truth – EXCEPT ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY!!!! Did I fool you?  Some of you probably thought that I went off the deep end. 😜 Well, let that be a lesson to you. Never believe everything that you read on the internet. If you want accurate information about agriculture then talk to a farmer but you might want to avoid talking to them on April 1st. 😉
Here’s a link to Vanilla’s real story: Vanilla is born 

Some other reasons that cows have spots: Cow spots

For more fun & facts follow me & my farm on Facebook: Farmer Tim

Photo credit: Karen Dallimore

Cash Cows Are Well Cared For Cows

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a Cash Cow is defined “as someone or something that makes a lot of money for a business, organization etc.”  A quick search of Wikipedia told me that “the term cash cow is a metaphor for a “dairy cow” used on farms to produce milk, offering a steady stream of income.”


Of course every cow on a dairy farm is a cash cow to a dairy farmer. However, cows are a huge investment. It takes about $2,000 Cdn dollars to raise a heifer to the point that she is old enough to produce milk as a cow and it takes a long time after that for farmers to see any return on their investment, especially when you factor in the ongoing costs for things like feed and veterinary care. As an aside, the most money ever paid for a cow was 1.2 million dollars the the Canadian cow Missy!

If you buy a new car you do your best to take care of it so that it will serve you well for many years. You change the oil, you get it waxed and you rotate the tires. The same goes for dairy cows. Farmers want to look after their investments so that they are profitable for the long term.  Profitability and animals care go hand in hand. They give cows well balanced diets of high quality feed, routine veterinary care, scheduled hoof trims, vaccinations and protection from predators and the elements. Cows even get a two month rest period as a “dry cow” between calvings.  It takes a lot of TLC and hard work to keep cattle healthy and profitable. 

“Profitability and animal care go hand in hand.”

Dairy farmers don’t just look at their cattle as a short term investment. Many dairy farmers can trace their cow families back many generations. They are proud of their cattle’s genetics. Good genetics bring profits through longevity and high milk production so great care is taken to help their cattle reach their full potential. In Canada we do welfare audits with our proAction initiative to ensure that cows are being treated humanely because we love our cows. It’s not only the right thing to do it is also the logical thing to do. Profitable cows are cows that are treated well by compassionate farmers.   🐮❤️

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IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE…

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I’ll be honest with you. Last week I was one click away from shutting down my Facebook  page for good. I was feeling burnt out, demoralized and discouraged. I’ve had two orchestrated attacks by animal rights extremist on my page over the last few weeks. You probably didn’t even notice. The attacks often occur in the wee hours of the morning and I’d awaken each day to my page full of hate and propaganda. It was offensive and stressful. The attacks would drag on for days. I felt violated by a bunch of strangers. I lost sleep over it.

I was brought up to be open minded and kind hearted. I treat people with respect even if I don’t agree with them. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt only to realize that some people will never return the favour. It’s my choice to share my life and my farm with the world and I expected some back lash but never to this extent. If you don’t want to take the time to learn about the how and the why of animal care please don’t bother commenting on my page. If you don’t want to read my answer then don’t ask a question. I’ll save my precious time for those who do. You call me a murderer, a rapist and selfish, but you don’t know me. You know nothing about the care I give my animals. You know nothing about my compassion and respect for life or my knowledge about farming. You watch extremist propaganda videos and assume that all farmers are the same. You haven’t even taken the time to read through any of my posts. Your comments wouldn’t be so ignorant if you had. I kindly take time to answer your questions only to have my response criticized. You don’t want to listen. You want to promote your agenda.

“If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all.”

Facebook is full of trolls. An Internet troll is someone who purposely tries to stir up trouble on social media. Here are some hard lessons I’ve learned when dealing with trolls.

1) If you are unsure that they are a troll then give them the benefit of the doubt and address their concerns in a polite and positive way. Sometimes it is hard to tell an extremists troll from a genuinely concerned consumer. Regardless, always answer politely because the world is watching and you are representing your industry as a professional. Remember that there is nothing wrong with someone politely disagreeing with you in the first place.

2) If they continue to be negative and disrespectful then ignore them.”DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!” Their goal is to rile you. They thrive on pushing their agenda and arguing against reason.

3) Hide their comments if you wish. It’s YOUR page. You and the troll can see it, but the rest of your followers can’t. With their comments hidden the troll’s agenda cannot be fulfilled. It’s their turn to get frustrated.

4) If all else fails ban them from your page. I hate doing  it, but there is only so much negativity that one person can handle. Don’t worry, their friends will soon be back to take their place. 😒 (Hint: you can often tell a lot about a follower by creeping their personal page. Trolls are often proud of the fact that they are bullies.)

5) Keep focusing on the positives. You have lots of people on your page who are willing to listen and discuss things politely even when they disagree.

6) Seek some support from fellow bloggers. They have all undoubtedly dealt with trolls and they can give you valuable advice and support.

I don’t hate the trolls. I actually feel sorry for them. Some are just misguided and some may even have some good arguments, but no one wants to listen to a one sided arguement full of hate. There will come a time when blogging will get to be too much for me, but I’ll quit on my own terms. I won’t be silenced by the trolls. I won’t let them win. I was bullied as a kid and I refuse to be bullied in an on-line world as an adult. Life is too short to focus on negativity. Caring for my animals and my family keeps me busy enough.🐮

Follow me on Facebook: Farmer Tim