Monday, April 29, 2013

Swine Facility Saves the Buffalo

I'm sharing this video produced by Arkansas Farm Bureau because this eighth generation family farmer states how we feel about the land. Last week his family opened a new swine facility in Newton County. The new  facility  is built to industry standards and has met all the requirements for permitting by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to protect the environment. This new facility actually should protect the Buffalo River better because of the design features to protect the environment as opposed to older swine facilities that have been operating in the area for many years.

  This Arkansas farm family is on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from the public because the farm is in the Buffalo River watershed area. It's important that truthful information is shared because it's obvious that from all the media hogwash I've seen and read,  there is alot of misunderstanding about how we farmers  work to produce safe food and protect the environment.

 No one understands the importance of caring for the land any better than a farmer. We live and work everyday on the land and desire to leave it better than we found it. It's our heritage.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Got Your Goat

Spring on the dairy farm brings many joys in nature, in life on the dairy farm and for our family.
Birthdays are always special events and
last night we managed to pull off a surprise birthday party for Cody,thanks to Margaret(Cody's girlfriend) and alot of sneaky family and friends.
I was afraid we might set the cake on fire if we lit  twenty-five candles!
 The best gift was this baby goat from a family friend who knew Cody needed a new lawn mower!

                                                     A memorable birthday--don't you think?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

For the first time in forty-one years of dairy farming, every bit of feed for our dairy cows was being purchased due to last year's drought. We are more than a little bit excited as we start to harvest this spring crop of rye and wheat!
Making adjustments to the chopper is part of the preparation for harvest.

The rye is tall and thick and takes at least a day of drying in the field after being cut before it can be chopped.
The chopper pulls the rye into the knives,chops it into small pieces,
and blows it into the silage truck.
I'm thankful for this crop and for the smiles I've seen on the farmers faces this week!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dairy Farmers Celebrate Earth Day Everyday

Although we celebrate Earth Day everyday  on the dairy farm by caring for our  land and  animals, harvesting our spring crop of rye grass  is a great way to celebrate the actual day. This crop has grown due to the application of cow manure on the field. Cow manure not only  provides needed  nutrients for a crop , it also   increases the water holding capacity for the soil.

 Recycled cow manure is a perfect example of how we celebrate Earth Day everyday!

Federal ,state and local clean water laws regulate how manure is applied on crop lands, so nutrients are absorbed by crops,not groundwater.  To protect the environment, we follow a farm plan that has been designed by environmental engineering specialists that  guide how much manure can be applied to acceptable acres of farm and crop land.

From all of us down on the dairy farm,
Happy Earth Day!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Everyday List for the Earth

It's not supposed to be necessary to wear long underwear for Earth Day outdoor activities in Northwest Arkansas in April, but it was good planning for our  activity  at Old High Middle School!  The chilly temperature did not lessen the excitement of the students as they moved to different activities on the front lawn of the school.

Our topic for the day was the Water Cycle and we had a lot of fun playing the Water Drop game to provide information about the importance of water and how we strive to recycle and protect our water supply.

If you're wondering how you may celebrate Earth Day everyday, here's the list we shared with the students:

  • Unplug electronics. Even though they aren't in use, electronics still use up energy if they're plugged in.
  • reuse bags you've been collecting whenever possible.
  • Pledge to cut down on buying bottles of water. Get a reuseable bottle!
  • Teach kids about reusing,reducing and recycling. Lessons today will turn to action tomorrow! Lead by example.
  • Turn off the lights! So easy to do--make it a habit when you leave a room.
  • Don't waste water. Be conscious of your water usage.
  • Change the light bulbs in your house to Compact Florescent Lights (CFls). You'll save energy and also money on your electric bill.
  • Plant a tree.
  • When running errands have your route planned ahead of time so you are not back tracking.
  • Compost. Reducing the amount of solid waste produced in a year means taking up less space in landfills. Plus, compost makes a great natural fertilizer.
  • Maintain your car by keeping tire pressure right.
  • Drive smarter by slowing down. Take it easy on the gas pedal and brakes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Spring in Northwest Arkansas is amazing! I didn't think there could be a prettier picture than the redbud trees blooming on East Central Street in Bentonville, until I passed through downtown on my way to a meeting. The tulips were singing Spring! I'm thankful for the beauty of this season and for the blessing of  blooming trees and flowers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Farmer in the Dell

When our dairy nutritionist was on the farm today, Ryan was showing him part of the spring crop that we will start harvesting this week. It's a variety of rye grass that is cold tolerant and as you can see, has grown very well in Northwest Arkansas.
 Doesn't this look like the perfect picture for that old childhood song--'The Farmer in the Dell'?
Hi-O the Dairy-O, the Farmer in the Dell!
It's true...a picture is worth a thousand words.  As I looked at this picture of Ryan standing in the middle of the green field of rye grass I saw  not only the crop  that will be chopped and fed to our dairy cows,but also  the hope that this crop gives to the 3rd generation dairy  farmer that has experienced a devastating season of drought.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dairymom's Sunday Perspective

It was a week of frustration and disappointment for me but I am fortunate to have a Mother who often gives me good advice that helps me to put things in perspective. This advice works for wherever we are serving or living whether its on the mountaintop or down in the gutter.
"He has shown you,
O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly,
to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God."
------Micah 6:8
That works in the State House,
The County Court House,

or down on the dairy farm.
Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Raw Milk Freedom

I've given up trying to understand how freedom connects with allowing the sale of raw (unpasteurized) milk in Arkansas but it has been the theme for a majority of the Arkansas House of Representatives this session. It shouldn't have surprised me after witnessing one of the committee hearings in Little Rock at the Capital last Friday when I was told that the legislators chanted "Freedom,Freedom,Freedom" inside the House of Representative chambers when they passed the bill to legalize the sale of raw milk. (I'd call that a chant of ignoramus!)

Although all Grade A dairy farmers work to produce safe milk by following proven production methods and caring for our animals to keep them healthy, pasteurization of milk is scientifically proven to be the key to providing a safe product for consumers. The reason we don't have raw milk illness very often is that out of all the milk produced in the United States, only 1% of milk is unpasteurized.

This new law does provide the freedom to sell raw milk but it doesn't offer any protection to Arkansas consumers or Grade A dairy farmers. Grade A dairy farms are permitted by the Arkansas Department of Health, inspected monthly to make sure barns and equipment meet standard and the milk is tested each time it is picked up at the farm.

A thirteen year study by the Center for Disease Contol and Prevention on Nonpasteurized Disease Outbreaks found that :
  • Raw milk was much more likely to cause outbreaks than pasteurized milk.
  • Outbreaks caused by raw milk tended to cause more severe disease.
  • Younger people were affected more in outbreaks caused by raw milk than in outbreaks caused by pasteurized milk.
  • States that allow the sale of raw milk had more outbreaks caused by consuming raw milk.
This new law increases the opportunity for raw milk illness by just legalizing raw milk sales. Raw milk illness can impact Grade A dairy farms because this damages the image of all milk. This puts Arkansas Grade A dairy farmers at greater economic risk even though we have produced safe milk because the public will have fear of all milk.

All this new law requires of anyone wishing to sell raw milk is to post a sign at the farm stating you know you are purchasing raw milk and accept the liability. There is no provision in the law for oversight by the Arkansas Health Department or any other state agency to provide any measure of protection to the consumer.

It's a food safety issue---not freedom. You can find more information about raw milk at Real Raw Milk Facts or Midwest Dairy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Am I watching the cows or are they watching me?
I'm thankful for the everyday  enjoyment I have from watching these beautiful cows and heifers  that are  waiting to give birth in just a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

On my way to Bible study and choir practice, I drove by one of our spring crops that will be mowed and chopped for dairy cow feed  in just a week or two.
It's a beautiful sight after a drought.
Even though it's been a chilly start to spring, I'm thankful for the spring rain that is replenishing the earth for a new growing season on the dairy farm.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Milk's Raw Deal

Although we work every day on the dairy farm to produce safe milk by following proven production practices and caring for our animals to keep them healthy, the fact is that pasteurization of milk is scientifically proven to be the key to providing a safe product for consumers. Pasteurization doesn't change the nutritional value of milk but it does kill harmful bacteria. Ignoring the benefits of pasteurization  can definitely lead to a raw deal when it comes to your health.

In today's world, whether it makes sense or not to me, there are folks who believe it is their liberty to ignore the rules of food safety and partake of raw milk without any guidelines provided by government regulations that provide for safe food. I've never thought about food safety as being a liberty issue and I just can't get my mind wrapped around this approach.

There are an increasing number of states that have legalized the retail  sale of raw milk directly to consumers without pasteurization. Each state differs in the rules or regulations but no matter how the rules are written, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that :
  • states that allow the legal sale of raw milk for human consumption have an increased number of raw milk-related outbreaks of illness than states that do not allow raw milk sales.
  • Bacteria in raw milk is especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems,older adults,pregnant women and children. In fact, 80% of raw milk illness occurs in children and teenagers.
You can find more information about milk's raw deal at Real Raw Milk Facts or MidwestDairy.

I don't eat raw chicken or  raw beef so...why would I  drink raw milk? For me,it's a food safety issue.