"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 31, 2010
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!