"Pioneers of Ag...Sailing in the Future" was the theme for the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference I was attending this past week in Baltimore,Maryland. Agriculture in the Classroom is a grassroots program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture with the goal of helping students to gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society. The fact that only two percent of our population is providing food,fiber, and fuel for our country makes this goal more important than ever as we need more citizens who will be able to understand and support wise agricultural policies. As a volunteer leader for Arkansas Farm Bureau I attended workshops that were jam packed with information and ideas to promote agriculture education. My suitcase was overloaded with materials that I will use and share with other volunteers that possess the same passion that I have for educating all consumers about agriculture. While visiting Maryland I learned that the dairy industry is the #3 commodity of their state, horticulture #2 and broilers #1. For more information about Maryland or any other state and other educational resources,check-out http://www.agclassroom.org/. Traveling and learning about other places is a great experience but there's no place like home on the dairy farm. Sharing information about the dairy farm and the great product we produce is even better!!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Roper boots,Wrangler blue jeans,cotton snap shirt,belt,pliers,pocket knife and ball cap hat are the standard working uniform for our Dairy Farmer Dad. A straw hat will replace the ball cap for certain field jobs when the heat intensifies and more protection is needed. Most of the ball cap hats are received as appreciation gifts from other businesses that we trade with and are worn proudly as free advertisement in support of product or service. Looking at the collection of hats hanging in our house made me think about the many hats a farmer wears daily in decision making. If he changed hats for every different type of job or decision that he makes,the farmer would spend all day just changing hats! On any given day a dairy farmer must use knowledge from a variety of careers--veterinarian,engineer,mechanic,business manager,nutritionist,scientist,and weather forecaster. As we celebrate Father's Day, we can also thank our Dairy Farmer Dads for providing a great heritage for their families while sharing their passion and pride in producing great dairy products. Tomorrow our Dairy Dad will be wearing his hat that says #1 Dad or Head Honcho and eating requested lemon chiffon pie! Happy Father's Day and June Dairy Month!!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Volunteering at the 4 State Dairy Days was part of my celebration of June Dairy Month. Dairy Days is a two day event filled with dairy education,dairy judging,cattle exhibiting and a lot of fun with dairy farm families,4-H and FFA members. One of my jobs was to check in exhibitors as they arrived with their cattle. Checking in dairy farm families was much like a family reunion as I recalled so many fun family times at other fairs and cattle shows. My volunteer assignment entailed looking at registration papers and health certificates on each animal. Health certificates are issued by a veterinarian after examination of an animal prior to transport,exhibition,show, or sale. Acquiring health certificates for a cattle show is a standard procedure not only as a safety measure for the animals but also the people participating in or observing the event. Just as health certificates are an important preparation for a cattle show, making sure that our dairy cows are healthy on the farm is part of daily care and observation. Health examinations on dairy farms also protect our cows, our employees and our families. On our farm we have monthly herd health examinations by our veterianarian with other exams as needed. Our cows have their own family physician! Veterinarians are trained to recognize,test,and report signs of any disease in cattle that might be of concern to human health and the animals. Although there are some diseases that cattle may have that could possibly be transmitted to people, healthy cattle usually are not the source of any of these diseases for people. When you are working around animals it is very likely that you may come into contact with manure, saliva or other bodily secretions that could pose some concern if hand-to-mouth transmission of disease agents might occur. A list of diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people is listed in the Veterinary Column in the May10,2010 issue of Hoard's Magazine(http://www.hoards.com). Whether we are working on the farm,showing cattle at an event, or caring for the family pet, potential health concerns can be minimized with common sense measures like hand washing,use of sanitizers and/or appropiate hand wipes. Healthy dairy cows producing a healthy product everyday is a great reason to celebrate especially in the month of June!
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Do we have happy cows on our farm? A student at Hellstern Middle School in Springdale asked this question during the celebration assembly for winning the Fuel Up to Play 60 online contest at www.FuelUpToPlay60.com. The contest was designed to track students daily healthy eating and physical activity habits while providing educational challenges and encouraging friend recruitment to the program. As a dairy farmer and dairy mom, I am proud to be a part of Fuel Up to Play 60 because it is designed to prevent and help combat childhood obesity and help youth develop life-long healthy eating and daily physical activity habits. My response to the students in thirty seconds or less was Yes-we have happy cows on our farm! Our cows are happy because they are provided with a specially formulated nutritional diet, have access to cool clean water, are milked twice daily, rest in green pastures, and are much loved and cared for by the dairy farmer! You can read more about the Hellstern assembly on the Dairy Makes Sense blog and find more information about enrolling your school in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program at www.midwestdairy.com. Take this thought one step further--happy cows equal happy farmers!