"But the cows have to be milked”

Saturday, March 04, 2006
The blue states are losing population. The results of the national census in 2010 will almost certainly be a political bonanza for the red states. How bad are things in Vermont? What is the result of that state’s left-wing policies? It appears that Howard Dean’s state is in deep trouble. The following is so inadvertently funny that one might think they are reading a satirical piece in the Onion.com:

“Not long ago, Ray Pentkowski, the principal of Poultney Elementary School, published an unusual request in the school newsletter. Please, he urged parents, have more babies. The school desperately needs them.

He was half joking, but the problem is real. His school, down to 208 children, has lost a third of its student population since 1999 and must cut staff levels, he said, "for the first time in my memory."

“ Vermont, with a population of about 620,000, now has the lowest birth rate among states. Three-quarters of its public schools have lost children since 2000.”

“Governor Douglas said one executive had told him: "My business is growing, my orders are increasing, my markets are branching out. I would like to grow in Vermont, but I'm not sure I can find enough workers."

The worker shortage recently forced Mr. Douglas to say he would not drive out illegal immigrants working on Vermont's dairy farms.

"I respect the laws of the United States, of course," Mr. Douglas said. "But the cows have to be milked.” Read the whole thing.

(hat tip to The Corner)

There may very well be 620,000 people within the ten miles surrounding my home in Houston, Texas. Is Vermont a whole state or just a decent size suburb?


babushka said...

I'm reminded that the European plagues' big impact was that it decimated the work force. St. Blogs have been discussing this for a while, a plague of narcissism and barrenness.

Fresh Air said...

Hey, this is good news for Red Staters looking to pick up some scenic property. Of course, that will be nothing compared with the Mediterranean villas that will be on the market in about 20 years when Italy's population drops by another 40 percent.

David Thomson said...

It would behoove Republican strategists to devise campaign strategies reminding voters of the damage caused by liberalism. Are there any examples of blue states doing well? They all seem to be losers. Vermont is also not exactly the land of significant racial diversity. Minorities comprise only around 2% of its total population. This state, however unintentionally, is all about white people dominating the landscape. The Ku Klux Klan couldn’t have done a better job.

Yup, I can see it now. Radio and TV campaign advertisements declaring: Vote Republican or watch your whole world fall apart. Democrat policies will destroy your neighborhood.

Rick Ballard said...

"Are there any examples of blue states doing well?"

Sure - CA, OR and WA are doing OK. NY, MD and NJ aren't doing badly either. Of course demographics - in particular home ownership rates in WA, OR, NJ and MD may tip them pink if not red in the relatively near future but they are blue now and doing fine.

The marker on whether an area is turning or likely to turn is the percentage of first time home buyers. There's nothing like a whopping property tax bill to start the mental processes spinning regarding whose pocket is being emptied and whose is being filled. If renters monthly statements included a break down of how much of their rent is going to the local government the process would start a bit earlier. For the most part renters "think" they are getting a free ride.

A freerider mentality automatically leans Dem - cause those dumb taxpayers are paying for free lunches for renters. Not much intelligence involved but hey - the concept has worked for many years.

terrye said...


The lower birth rate also has something to do with birth control. Not everything is about politics.

I have a client whose mother had 14 children and was dead before she hit 50. That lady made a point of having 3.

I realize 3 is higher than average now, but it is way down from 14.

RogerA said...

wow--Babushka--clearly a student of European history: the bubonic plague of the 14th century, by killing off the serfs, made basic farm labor a commodity that had to paid for thus ending feudalism, and led to the rise of the national state--markets are wonderful things.

David Thompson: the people that talk most about the pleasures of diversity or those that have the least of it.

chuck said...

Who let's someone else milk the cows anyway? All the stories I've heard about having someone else milk the cows -- during the once every ten years vacation, for instance -- end with a remark about decreased production. Seems cows don't like changes anymore than cats do.

terrye said...


When my father in law died, my ex and I decided we would do that thing dairy farmers without lots of kids rarely do: leave the farm at the same time.

As it happened, we had a new heifer just coming in to milk. She had a hard udder which either one of us would have noticed immediately, but the guy milking for us did not. She developed toxic mastitis in less than a day. We saved her, but she never did turn into the cow she should have.

Milking cows is harder than it looks.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

It's a whole state. It's Houston that's over-large.

Seneca the Younger said...

Chuck, nobody milks a thousands dairy cows alone, and some of those big milk producers (responding to dairy price supports etc) are considerably bigger than that. People who have the old fashioned "50 cows and a pretty white milking barn" farms are hobbyists.

Rick Ballard said...

A 50 cow herd will bring in a $160K gross annual income. Shoot someone should be able to make a living on that, shouldn't they?

(Hides under desk waiting for Terrye.)

chuck said...

People who have the old fashioned "50 cows and a pretty white milking barn" farms are hobbyists.

Around here that's still how it works. The trucks from the cheese factories go out and collect milk from the various dairies scattered about the valley. On the other hand, they no longer pick up milk from families with two cows in a shed and a milk can on the edge of the road. Those days are gone.

terrye said...

Well the size of herds in places like California [where you do not have to winter cattle] is larger. In the midwest there are still dairies that size. The further west you go, the bigger the dairies are.

BTW I milked a cow herd of 45 and I owned closer to 130 animals. Because every cow has to support 2 or 3 other animals. That means dry bags, heifers, steers, bulls, babies etc.

It takes about 3 years from birth to the milk parlor.

I worked 7 days a week, from dawn to dusk..that is some hobby.

And Rick...hiding will do you no good, no good at all.

Rick Ballard said...


Yeah, I know that hiding won't help. I also know the bit about dairies in CA. The problem becomes one of "How the hell do I get 'em all milked and pay someone to do it?". In CA (Central Valley) they brought in milkers from the Azores - Portugees that wouldn't ask for anything but straight time and lodging for turning in a split shift 14 hour day, every day.

In construction, if you could pick up an 18 year old Portugee off a dairy, you were in clover. Those fellas had been bucking hay since they were 10 years old and walked off a hard eight hour days manual labor job looking for something to do with their spare time.

Great football players too - if their folks let them play. Absolutely devastating as linemen at the high school level.

terrye said...

I have seen dairy men pay people with a place to live on the farm, meat and milk. But those days are fading fast.