"The declining number of farmers in the USA ought to be a national policy issue since I don't want the USA to become an importer of food and fiber"---this was the comment I received in a letter from a Kiwanis member after my presentation about dairy promotion. During an informal question and answer session after my presentation, we were discussing the efficiency of the American farmer. Although I did not bring out the fact that the average age of the farmer is 55 years old, it was on the mind of the member. This fact does bring one to think about the importance of who will be producing our food in the future. It should be a concern for every American. As we are just days away from 2011, I am resolved to do my part in insuring the future of agriculture and the American farmer by: engaging in conversations about how we produce the safest,most abundant and most affordable food, encouraging consumers and farmers to be active and educated on issues that effect all of us and supporting all efforts of agricultural organizations to foster involvement of young women and men in agriculture. Will you support American agriculture?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
As I returned to the farm from the Osage Terrace Assisted Living Facility last week, I felt a great sense of satisfaction from sharing time with a group of elderly residents and young members from the Centerton 4-H Club. For the last seven years, I have been providing piano Christmas music while 4-H members demonstrate and teach how to make an assortment of Christmas ornaments, provide refreshments and enjoy Christmas music while working together. As I was listening to the residents and the children singing softly as they worked on their ornaments, I thought how volunteering always brings me great joy. What would our world be like without the volunteers in every community? Life on the dairy farm is hectic, my house is rarely spotless, and it isn't always easy to volunteer but my life is much richer and filled with contentment from giving to my community. Many volunteer organizations are struggling to find people willing to give of their time. If you aren't already volunteering, would you consider it in 2011? Volunteering is a great year round Christmas gift you can give to your community!
Monday, December 13, 2010
Last Friday I had the privilege of speaking to the Gravette Kiwanis Club about dairy. I chose to talk about the dairy checkoff program because many consumers do not know that the national dairy promotion program was produced by dairy farmers,for dairy farmers and is funded by America's dairy farmers. Because Kiwanis is an international civic organization that works to improve children's health, I really enjoyed telling the members about the Fuel Up To Play 60 program that the dairy farmers are sponsoring in partnership with the National Football League. As a dairy farmer, I am very proud that our money is being used to give children information and incentive to improve their nutrition choices and exercise habits for life long health. Fuel Up To Play 60 is now being implemented in two-thirds of our nation's schools (more than 60,000), reaching 36 million students. The uniqueness of this program is that it engages students directly to take the lead in helping make their schools and communities healthier. Learning to make good nutriton choices and developing exercise habits is a great prevention for obesity and other chronic illnesses. You can learn more about the dairy checkoff program at http://www.dairycheckoff.com/. Before leaving the meeting, we had a drawing for an insulated shopping bag donated by Midwest Dairy (http://www.midwestdairy.com/). My hope is that each member left with new information and understanding about the dairy industry and the nutritious product that we produce!
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Although I use butter year round, holiday baking with butter is part of my holiday tradition in the kitchen. My schedule is busy year round with farm,family, and volunteer activities but I will always find time to make special desserts that my family and friends enjoy. As I studied the pile of laundry, the dirty house and the stack of unopened mail facing me after returning from attending the Arkansas Farm Bureau Convention, I then remembered the Sunday School Christmas party that was planned for the evening. What's a dairy mom to do? Get the recipes out and start looking for something easy, quick and delicious! In case you find your self in this situation, I am sharing this special recipe with you. Butter is a main ingredient in Almond Cake Squares providing rich flavorful taste. It is a great recipe for any event and looks pretty presented on a fancy pedestal cake stand or festive holiday plate. Santa might even enjoy these with a glass of milk!
Almond Cake Squares
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup melted butter
Combine eggs and sugar; beat with electric mixer until thick and lemon colored. Stir in flour and butter; pour batter into greased and floured 13x9x2inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Spread Almond Topping over cake; broil cake 4 inches from heat 3-5 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly. Cool on wire rack; cut into 2 inch squares. Yield:2 dozen
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp milk
Combine all in small saucepan; cook over low heat,stir constantly till sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens.
Monday, November 29, 2010
The day before Thanksgiving was short sleeve seventy degree weather. At the afternoon feeding,our baby calves were kicking up their heels and acting like it was spring. Fifteen hours later when I returned for the morning feeding,the temperature had dropped to twenty-six degrees and windy with a light mist. Extreme temperature changes are very stressful to baby calves and dairy moms. Extreme weather changes create added stress that increases the susceptibility to respiratory illness. When a baby calf is sick, we follow a care plan provided by our veterinarian. Antibiotic medication is given under prescription just like I would give my child. I document treatment for any calf that receives medication. As I think about all the statements being made about the use of antibiotics in animals causing resistance to antibiotics in humans, I am very concerned that our ability to treat and care for our animals will be taken away which will eventually eliminate our ability to maintain herd health. Making sure our animals are healthy and producing a healthy product for consumers is part of sustainability of our farm. As a mother,nurse, farmer and fellow human, I want the most accurate information based on sound scientific evidence when making such serious changes to our food production system. I would also add a dose of common sense !
Monday, November 22, 2010
Earlier this year, the Benton County Farm Bureau Women's Committee donated money and canned food to the Northwest Arkansas Foodbank. In this season of Thanksgiving, I am truly blessed to be living and working on a dairy farm with my family. I am very proud to be in the two percent of the population that is producing the safest,most affordable and most abundant food. Although we are a very blessed nation,I am very aware of my fellow Americans that are struggling to have enough to eat for themselves or their families. I am very thankful for the agencies,companies,community groups and individuals that are making it possible for less fortunate Americans to have access to food during these difficult economic times.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Thinking back to our wedding day, dairy promotion could have been written into our wedding vows since it has been an ongoing part of our marriage and life on the farm. When Ryan and I married in 1984, dairy promotion was known as the voluntary nickel program. Ryan contributed a nickel per hundred pounds of milk produced on the farm. The National Dairy Checkoff program (http://www.dairycheckoff.com/) was created in 1985 by dairy farmers, for farmers and is funded by America's dairy farm families---and only by dairy farmers. Today each dairy farm family contributes 15 cents per one hundred pounds of milk produced on each farm. Dairy check0ff money is used for programs at the national and state/regional levels. We have witnessed a phenomenal evolution of not only how our product is promoted but the development of products to meet the health and wellness needs of consumers. More than fifty percent of the checkoff budget is allocated to advancing dairy health and wellness efforts that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines of Americans. Products such as reduced-fat cheese,reduced-sodium cheese and reduced-sugar flavored milk were developed with dairy farmer funding to meet consumer need. Dairy farmers are currently investing in the overall health of children by the most recent in-school Fuel-Up to Play 60 program that aims to help children's health by bringing healthy eating and physical activity to more than 64,000 schools. Partnering with the NFL for the Fuel-Up program and working with other food companies allows us to make the most of every dairy farmer dollar. Providing a nutritious product that meets the consumer's need is what dairy promotion is all about! I invite you to visit the Midwest Dairy website for a sampling of useful consumer dairy information compliments of dairy farmers like me--http://www.midwestdairy.com. I'm thankful to be celebrating twenty six years of marriage and dairy promotion during this Thanksgiving week. In 1984, we didn't have dairy promotion in the vows but we did serve milk,cheese, and crackers at the reception!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Although our farming community has changed with the urban growth of our area, we still enjoy many special relationships with the businesses that support agriculture. Yesterday we drove thirty miles to Fayetteville to celebrate the retirement of Willis,G.C. and Larry from Williams Tractor. These three men had a total of one hundred eighteen year of experience working for this implement and tractor dealership. It was a special event for our family because of the relationships developed over sixty four years. Willis holds the record for the most years working for the dealership and we consider him as an extended family member. In 1946 Willis delivered the first New Holland square baler to our farm and has continued to be the resident expert serving four generations of our family. We appreciate all of the businesses that support our farm in a variety of ways and treasure the friendships!
Monday, November 8, 2010
If you ever travel to Des Moines,Iowa, you must take a detour to the quaint town of Perry,Iowa. This past weekend I attended the I_Blog Conference at the Hotel Pattee in Perry with two other dairy moms. Hotel Pattee has a rich history and is very unique. Each guest room is decorated depicting the people or places in the community of Perry. I stayed in the Band Room which was sheer delight! The headboard to my bed was made of musical instruments; the lampshades were made of drums and the band leaders hat with a fancy red plume! During the conference I gained great information about blogging and met a wide variety of very creative women. It is hard to believe that Spotted Cow Review is almost a year old! As I was returning home yesterday, I thought a lot about how writing has caused me to think about where I live and work and the blessings of my life. In the next few weeks, I am planning to make some changes to my blog space. As a dairy farmer, agricultural advocate,a wife,a mother,a church pianist, a nurse,a Farm Bureau volunteer,a friend--my life is rich and very blessed. Thank-you for reading my blog! My dairy mom friends and I served delicious Blues Buster Smoothies and promoted dairy for one of the conference breaks with the help of our Midwest Dairy friends. You can find more nutrient-rich recipes at http://www.dairymakessense.com/.
Blues Buster Smoothie
1 6-ounce container low-fat blueberry flavored yogurt
1/2 cup apple juice
2/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3-4 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into glass and enjoy!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Ten years ago we purchased a couple of Guernsey calves from our dairy farm friends in Missouri for our sons' 4-H dairy projects. The day we went to their farm to select the calves, getting a dog was not part of the plan. As I opened the truck door, I was greeted by this strange little wire haired dog named Chester. Chester had been dumped in front of our friends home a couple of months earlier. Our friend Kenneth had taught Chester to sit on command and ride the 4-wheeler. As Kenneth saw that I liked Chester,he offered to give Chester to us. We declined and started home with our calves. After traveling less than half a mile, I asked Ryan to turn the truck around and go get Chester. Chester became an Arkansawyer that day! Every day Chester is right beside me when I step out the back door and follows me everywhere I go on the farm. He loves to ride the 4-wheeler and it does not bother him at all to get the seat dirty! Last week after receiving the call about the sudden death of our friend Kenneth, I have thought about the many smiles Chester has given me. I don't know that Kenneth really wanted to give Chester away that day but I have experienced the special blessings of kindness and generosity from a special dairy farmer friend.
Friday, October 22, 2010
The words to the old song "Cotton Fields" kept running through my mind as we drove by hundreds of acres of white fields of cotton on the way to the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition in Moultrie,Georgia. Our dairy farmer friends Bill and Delia Haak represented Arkansas in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition and invited Ryan and I to attend this event as their guests. Ten farmers representing Alabama,Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,Tennessee, and Virginia were judged before the announcement from a thirty page nomination form and an individual visit to each farmer's operation. Each farmer represents the very best of American agriculture--innovation,creativity, hard working,love of the land, and devotion to family. Georgia farmer Robert Dasher was selected as this year's Farmer of the Year but truly each of these candidates are the cream of the crop! Before leaving the Expo to return home, we tried to see as much as possible of the 1201 exhibits spread across 100 acres. Sunbelt Ag Expo really does have something for everyone.Ryan came home with arm loads of tractor and parts catalogs and I bought the complete set of vegetable peelers! You can find out more information about the Expo and Georgia agriculture at http://www.sunbeltexpo.com/or georgia.org.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Most of the time when we use the word "crop" it seems we are talking about plants that we grow to feed our cattle but since the first of September, I have been increasingly busy with our fall calf crop. We will have new calves born all through the year but usually in the spring and fall, a group of heifers will give birth to their first calf. These forty two first calf heifers were also babies I raised from birth two years ago. Each heifer is identified with a number name that I assign to them at birth. As the heifer matures, we will use her number name to record her indiviual genetic,health and milk production information. Waiting for these heifers to calve requires close observation and sometimes requires very late in the night or wee morning hour assistance from the dairy farmer and family assistants(that would sometimes be me). During this past month, it has been common for us to have two or more babies born per day. As this heifer group finishes calving, we can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate the beginning milk production of the heifer that we have raised from birth. Watching our cows grow from babies to mature cows brings a great sense of pride and accomplishment. These cows are not only part of the herd but part of our family!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Late night suppers sound romantic until you add doing dishes after nine 0'clock in the evening. My kitchen schedule this week has required late night chores due to our fall hay harvest schedule. Utilizing our farm land to produce quality hay is an economic asset to our farming operation and provides nutritional benefits to our young calves. Yesterday's hay was wrapped into small square bales that will be fed to our young calves. As I was watching the baler tie a bale of hay and push the bale onto the accumulator, I was also listening to the rhythmic noise the machine made like the clickety-clack of a railroad track. Ten bales are pushed onto the accumulator platform then dumped onto the field. My oldest son then hauled the bales to the trailer. Farming is truly a fascinating occupation with all of the technology,innovation and most of all--the farmer's love of the land. Each season on the farm brings new tasks along with the daily dairy farm chores but in each task there is reward. Fall brings crisp cool air,brilliant color in the flowers, and a thankful heart for the blessings of the harvest. Happy Fall,Ya'll!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Although the bulk of Arkansas rice is produced in the forty counties on the opposite side of the state from where I live, I enjoy sharing information about rice production. Many consumers do not realize that Arkansas is the number one producer of rice in the United States. In 2009 forty five percent of all rice in the United States was produced in Arkansas. One of the rewarding benefits of volunteering for Farm Bureau and promoting agriculture is seeing young people learn and develop skills through promotion activities. Since 1961 the Miss Arkansas Rice contest has been used as a fun and competitive activity to promote rice. From June to November, contestants fill their schedules with activities promoting rice. At the final contest in November, they will be judged on their rice recipe, an oral presentation,individual interview, and their promotion activities. You can find more information about the contest at http://www.arfb.com/programs&activities and actually view the list of reigning Miss Arkansas Rice-Lydia Homes promotion activities. As National Rice Month and September are coming to an end, I wanted to share the rice recipe from the 2005 Miss Arkansas Rice,our very own Miss Benton County Rice-Jillian Harper. Thanks to every contestant for the great job of promoting rice and Arkansas agriculture!! Wouldn't it be fun to know the names of each winning recipe for the last 48 years?
Fiesta Rice Skillet Dinner
3 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
1 lb ground beef**
1 can black beans,drained & rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn with red & green peppers,drained
1 cup mild picante sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
1 can Rotel
Brown onion and ground beef together. Drain any excess fat. Add rice,beans,Rotel,
corn,picante sauce and chili powder. Stir to mix well. Heat thoroughly. Remove
from heat and sprinkle with cheese. Serve hot as entre, a chili with Fritos or a wrap.
**Options: substitute 1 lb ground turkey or 1 lb boneless,skinless diced chicken
with 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil in skillet to brown meat.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Dairy farmers don't talk much about being "green" or "sustainable" because we have been practicing environmental stewardship every day for generations. Protecting the land,water and air on the farm is what I consider insurance for the continuation of our family farm for future generations. The environmental impact and profitability of small or large farms is improved with the efficient use of natural resources. Since 1985 our farm has been permitted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. This permit allowed us to build holding areas for liquid and dry manure and use the nutrients to fertilize the soil under the guidance of certified nutrient management plans. Nutrient management plans are developed using sound science and designed by professioinal environmental engineers working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Proper handling and use of manure aids in fertilization of the soil, conserves water and protects air quality. As I was listening to the staff member from the Environmental Protection Agency talk to dairy and poultry farmers this week in Northwest Arkansas, I thought about how we work every day to live the dairy industry's definition of sustainability--"providing consumers with the nutritious dairy products they want in a way that makes the industry,people and the earth economically,environmentally, and socially better--now and for future generations." You can find more information about how dairy farmers care for the environment at http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org/. Sharing information about how we care for our animals and the environment is an added feature of my sustainability insurance policy!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The fact that seventy five percent of the nation's wildlife food and habitat is provided by farms and ranches came to mind as I was feeding baby calves this week. Informing us of their departure with their loud honking chorus, large groups of ducks flew above us headed in a southeast direction. I wondered if they were flying to the rice fields in eastern Arkansas. The ducks probably know this fact, but I love to tell people that Arkansas ranks first in production of rice for the entire United States. More than twenty billion pounds of rice is grown in the United States each year by farmers in Arkansas,California,Louisiana, Mississippi,Texas and Missouri. Rice farmers provide a great product as well as wetland habitat for many species of birds,mammals,amphibians and reptiles. Winter flooded rice fields provide resting and foraging habitat for migratory and wintering waterfowl. September is celebrated as National Rice Month. You can find more information about rice and great recipes at http://www.usarice.com/. You might try transitioning into fall with this easy breakfast recipe:
PEACHY BREAKFAST RICE
Yield: 6 servings
1 16-ounce can peach slices,in juice
3 cups hot cooked rice
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Drain peaches,reserve juice. Cut peaches into chunks;set aside.
Combine rice in medium-size saucepan with reserved juice from peaches,
heat over medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Add 3/4 cup milk,continue cooking until thick and creamy. Add brown sugar and cinnamon; stir until combined. Fold in peaches. Serve hot.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Have you ever heard of a bovine podiatrist? On our farm, we call this specialist a hoof trimmer. Yesterday was hoof trimming day. Ben, our hoof trimmer, comes to the farm once a month to trim and care for the hooves of our dairy cows. Hoof problems lead to lameness which can cause suffering,decrease milk production,and may lead to culling from the herd. Ben arrived with his portable tilt table and all the right tools as we began the morning milking. As cows left the milk barn, we moved those that needed hoof care into a special corral joining the hoof trimming area. From the corral, the cow is walked to the tilt table with the hydraulic layover chute allowing the cow to be place in a horizontal postion. This special table allows Ben to work on each hoof individually without causing stress and injury to the cow. Ben works as a skilled artist to shape the hoof to provide the optimal weight bearing surface. As I watched Ben working skillfully and diligently with his hoof trimming tools, I felt very grateful for all the professionals that assist us in providing care for our dairy cows. Happy Labor Day to all of you who labor for the love of agriculture!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
As I boiled eggs to prepare requested deviled eggs as part of my son's birthday supper,I thought a lot about the egg recall that has been on the radar screen of all consumers this week. Any type of safety and quality issue with food is very serious to all farmers because the American farmer makes it a top priority to provide the highest quality and safest food products for consumers. As the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are working to find the source of the issue, America's egg farmers are urging people to thoroughly cook their eggs as salmonella is destroyed by the heat of cooking. Eggs should be cooked until the whites and yolks are firm or, for dished containing eggs, until an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit is reached. You can find great information about eggs and answers to questions you may have about the egg recall at http://www.eggsafety.org/. As we go forward and more information is shared about this recall and its cause, I will still be thanking the American Egg Farmer and all other farmers for the safest,most abundant and affordable food in the world!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Funnel cakes,corn dogs,merry-go-rounds,exhibits--fairs bring all kinds of fun,food,entertainment and experiences. Most parents bringing their children to the Benton County Fair will tell you that the best fun is the free petting zoo. This past week was my fifteenth year to volunteer for the Benton County Farm Bureau Petting Zoo during the Benton County Fair. In the beginning the purpose for the petting zoo was to provide children an up close experience with a farm animal. Baby chicks were the logical first choice for the petting zoo because Benton County is number one in poultry production in Arkansas. The petting zoo is still an amazing hands on experience but as our county has become increasingly urbanized and the number of farms and farmers is decreasing, we have felt the increased importance of sharing information about agriculture with the consuming public. As the children and adults are holding the baby chicks, petting the baby pigs or calf, we are educating about agriculture, dispelling misinformation and providing a place where farmers can connect with consumers in a fun and friendly setting. If you are an advocate, you are supporting or pleading for a cause. As an agvocate I am pleading my cause--agriculture! As a beef and dairy farmer, volunteering in the petting zoo is one way I agvocate. For fun at home,you can check out fun facts about agriculture at www.thankafarmer.info/FunFacts/. With only two percent of the American population producing food,fiber and fuel for our country and the world and young consumers more than three generations removed from the farm, it is important that we share how we produce the safest and most affordable food that is vital to daily life in the city or on the farm.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
August brings hot and dry conditions every year but these last two weeks have gone above and beyond creating discomfort for my family and our cows. This extreme heat has speeded up our harvest schedule for cutting the corn that is used to make corn silage to feed our dairy cows. Corn silage is fed through the entire year and it is very important to harvest at the right time for quality and yield. Harvesting our corn crop involves the entire family plus employees. The self propelled John Deere silage cutter cuts the corn,leaves, and part of the stalk and blows it into the bed of a large dump truck. The truck will deliver and dump the corn into one of the large pit silos located just below the dairy barn where a tractor is used to pack it into the silo. After all the corn is cut and stored in the silo, it will be covered with plastic and allowed to ferment for 14-21 days before feeding it as corn silage. Fermentation breaks down the sugars in the corn making it an excellent source of energy in the cow's diet. A sample of the silage will be taken for a quality analysis report which will be used by our dairy nutritionist to formulate the entire diet for our dairy herd. When corn silage is fermenting, it takes on a particular smell. Many folks complain about its distinct odor but I think about how good it smelled the first year I experienced it in December 1983 riding in the big red International tractor on my second date with the dairy farmer. I don't know if it was because it was forty degrees cooler in December or I was in love but I still love the farmer and the smell of corn silage!
Saturday, August 7, 2010
A quarter inch of rain and a day of cloudiness was a welcome sight this Thursday after having 103 degree days. Heat stress is a real danger for our dairy cattle, our employees and my family. Providing extra water and shade for the cattle and access to fans and sprinklers was a must for the animals. Professor Leo Tims has given great information about cool cows on the Dairy Makes Sense Blog found at http://www.midwestdairy.com/. Chores on the farm started earlier in the mornings to avoid the hottest part of the afternoon and any tasks that could be delayed were left for a day with more moderate temperatures. Extreme heat seems to wear on our patience with each other. To lift our spirits and cool us off, I prepared a special recipe that my mother-in-law fixed many times on hot summer days. We call it Purple Puddin'. She called it Raspberry Delight. Whatever you call it--it's a dairy delight!
Purple Puddin' (Raspberry Delight)
1 can condensed milk
Juice of 2 lemons
4 Tbs seedless black raspberry jam
1/2 pint cream,whipped
1 box vanilla wafers
1 cup nuts(optional)
Mix the condensed milk and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, whip the cream and mix with the jam. Fold all together.
In a 9x9 dish,place a layer of vanilla wafers in the bottom,add a layer of the pudding mix,repeat.
Chill and serve.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
"Making hay while the sun shines" describes activity on our dairy farm this week. In this last week of July weather conditions of sunshine and 100 degrees have been perfect for cutting,baling, and wrapping quality hay that will be used to feed our dairy and beef cattle. Farmers in Northwest Arkansas are known for being experts in growing Bermuda hay but you can also find a smorgasbord of other grasses such as fescue,orchard, and crab grass. All of our cattle will be fed hay that we have grown. Baby calves will enjoy small square bales of hay and as the cattle grow and develop they will be fed large round bales or wrapped hay bales. Wrapping hay started on our farm two years ago when we bought a machine called a bale wrapper to utilize the grasses that are available to us. The grass that we were cutting this week was a mixture of fescue and bermuda. The grass was cut, allowed to dry or cure for a day,baled and then wrapped. Wrapping protects the hay quality for feeding through the year and actually turns the hay into silage that the cows love to eat. You can think of this as candy for cows without cavities! Before we feed the hay to our cattle, we will send a sample of hay to the lab for quality analysis. Our dairy nutritionist will use the hay analysis to formulate a nutrition recipe for our cows that will provide a scientifically balanced diet to insure proper growth of our animals and produce quality milk. Hay production like every job and activity on the farm is all about making our family farm sustainable for the future by caring for our animals,being good stewards of the land, and producing a quality product for all consumers.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Dairy and P's
As children we learned our ABC's and attended school for the three R's-readin','ritin, and 'rithmetic but have you heard about the three P's? The three P's stand for People,Purpose and Passion. This week I have been away from the farm for a couple of days to attend the Officers and Leaders meeting for Arkansas Farm Bureau and our Dairy Farmers of America Cooperative summer informational meeting. Both organization have the common bond of People,Purpose and Passion. Farmers and ranchers have a great purpose--providing the safest and most affordable food for consumers in our country and the world. Experts have found that passion drives success. Here are four truths about passion: Passion is the first step to achievement. Passion increases your willpower. Passion changes you. Passion makes the impossible possible. The American Farmer has Passion! As a third generation dairy farm family we are very passionate about producing the highest quality,lowest cost milk possible in an environmentally responsible manner. We love to farm the land and raise and watch the cows grow. Milk is nature's perfect food and we love to promote a healthy product. You can learn more about the product we produce and great recipes by checking out these websites: http://www.midwestdairy.com;www.dairymakessense.com/ and http://www.friendsofelsie.com/.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Iwasn't looking forward to feeding calves in the sweltering one hundred degree afternoon heat this week but when I turned to go down the second row of calves--there was a miracle in my view! A bright auburn red calf in the sea of black and white! We raise and milk Holstein cattle with the exception of a few Ayrshire and one Guernsey that belong to our sons from their 4-H projects. The mother of this calf is a black and white Holstein and by our record she was bred by a black and white Holstein bull. Was this a mistake or a miracle? We do use artificial insemination for breeding our cows so it is possible that the father of this calf is an Ayrshire if the wrong semen was selected or mislabeled. It is also possible that the black and white Holstein herd bull may have had a red Holstein trait. Miracle or mistake--it doesn't matter because we provide the best care possible for all of our calves regardless of color. Each calf lives in an individual hutch and receives milk and grain twice daily. Hot,humid days are a challenge on the farm but we make sure the calves have fresh water to drink and observe them closely for dehydration or signs of illness. One hundred degree temperatures are a lot easier to take when you have a smile on your face from an unexpected miracle!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Our return flight from the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative leadership meeting this week was full of surprises. As our plane was hovering above the Northwest Arkansas runway, the pilot announced that we would be unable to land due to weather conditions and must return to Memphis. Standing in the Memphis airport at 3a.m. was bad enough but when the airline employee told us it would be at least fifteen hours before we could get a flight home, the dairy farmers made a plan. Traveling on this same flight was Mike, a man from Alaska. As our plan unfolded to rent a car and start home, Mike asked if he might catch a ride. I am sure it took great courage on his part as he observed these dairy farmer characters! At 4:30a.m., we were on the highway headed for Arkansas. There were a total of five passengers: 4 dairy farmers and Mike. As the sun came up and we could see the landscape, we shared information about dairy farming, discussed issues that we face every day, told about farm experiences, and all about Arkansas agriculture. Mike gave us insight into life in Alaska. As we returned to our daily schedule and life on the farm, I am very thankful for that unexpected road trip. One of the issues we were learning about at our meeting were the questions that are being raised about the purposes of cooperatives. Cooperatives believe that individuals have the power to make things happen by working together and sharing the results of our efforts. Just as the road trip experience brought a diverse group of people together for a common purpose, dairy farmers across our country must work together for the continuation of our family dairy farms. I am proud to be a Dairy Farmers of America member living our values of passion, integrity,accountability and innovation.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
"Butter me up" had a different meaning for children this week at the Bentonville Public Library. As a finish to my June Dairy Month celebration, I and several volunteers presented information about dairy farming,taught how to make butter,provided cheese tasting and milked Sophia, the simulated cow. My task was to teach the children how to make butter. As I handed each child a small container filled with a measured amount of whipping cream, the first instruction was to leave the lid on tight. We then shook our containers for about 4 minutes until the butter was formed. Four minutes to a seven or eight year old is an eternity. I wished for a video to have shown each child's butter making style! While we were shaking our whipping cream, I showed them my crockery and daisy churns so that they could visualize how butter was made before the convenience of the grocery store. When the butter was formed after all that shaking each child buttered up their cracker and enjoyed every bite. We also talked about how you can make flavored butter at home by just adding a little salt, honey or favorite herb. I enjoyed their satisfaction of a job well done and the information that was shared about dairy. As I placed my heirloom churns back on my kitchen shelf, I realized how grateful I am for all the modern conveniences and technology that we use every day in our home and on our dairy farm. I love having all the butter I can use to lather on my corn on the cob, bake with,butter my bread--the list is endless. I am also very blessed to be an American Dairy Farmer. Butter Up-- and have a great July 4th!