Finishing some things are easy, like eating all the pie and ice cream on your plate. Finishing harvest or completing silage chopping is not so hard because it’s the all-important No. 1 thing on your to-do list. Payroll for the employees always gets done on time because who wants phone calls from employees asking for a check? Perhaps this article was inspired by a simple thing one of our employees did not finish.
    We use heavy-duty household style washers and dryers to wash our microfiber towels at the dairy. These machines probably are spinning 20 hours a day, so they wear out quite quickly. We always have one new spare washer and one new spare dryer on hand that are still inside the cardboard shipping boxes. We also try to have a spare repaired washer and dryer on hand as extra backups for long holiday weekends when anything can and will go wrong. One day last week Omar replaced a broken wash machine with a new one out of a cardboard box. He left a terrible mess of torn cardboard and cardboard corner pieces all over the utility room. I saw it later that evening and did a bit of private eye work to discover who had left such a mess. The next morning when Omar was working again, I calmly took him back to the utility room and explained to him that is not how we do things at Ocheda Dairy. Then I proceeded to help him clean it up and dispose of the cardboard. I realize he may have been behind on his regular duties, but I also explained to him that even if he didn’t have time to dispose of the cardboard, at least bundle it up into a nice pile.
    When I think of jobs I struggle with finishing, my heated shop always comes to mind. Corey and I both try to keep it clean, but we are both guilty of cleaning one area while at the same time messing up a different area with a new project. Then there is also 10 other people in and out of there every day delivering parts, inoculant, oils or just coming to grab a particular tool. One year at Christmas time we actually succeeded in getting it spotlessly clean and kept it that way long enough to have a large family Christmas party in it. Another important job that is never finished is staying on top of proper milking procedures in the milking parlor. All the protocols in the world can be posted and preached, but the human elements of easy, laziness and forgetfulness can change the finished outcome quite quickly.
    My favorite memories of someone who never finished a job was one of my old neighbors who is long gone. I worked a lot for him when I was a teenager, and he would always say late in the afternoon that we would come back tomorrow and finish the job. Tomorrow rarely came in the sense of finishing yesterday’s job, and as a result, his silage boxes were always falling off his running gears because they were not properly bolted down. Also the tin on his cattle sheds kept blowing off because when we built the sheds we would only nail the tin down in the corners with the plan to come back tomorrow and nail it down completely. It all worked out good for both of us though because he was the neighbor that sold me the land I needed to build Ocheda Dairy on.
    When I wrote my first article for Dairy Star 6.5 years ago, I was hoping I could do it for two years. I had zero experience writing anything before Mark and Andrea gave me the go ahead to try it. I appreciate so much their advice and patience they had with some of my writing. I know sometimes my articles were too short for their allotted space, but I would remind them I was a dairy farmer, not a preacher. There was probably an article or two that I wish I had never written, and there was one that got rejected. But, other than that, it was very rewarding. I have appreciated so much all the nice comments from many loyal readers. This is my final article because I have run out of things to write about on a monthly basis. I am involved in the farm and the dairy, and we have 16 grandkids within 6 miles of us. I feel comfortable in the fact that I have finished the job of writing and not left any empty chapters. Now, I will work on cleaning the shop.
    Vander Kooi operates a 1,800-cow, 4,500 acre farm with his son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Rita, near Worthington, Minn. Send him feedback at Follow him on Instagram, @davevanderkooi.