Sunday, August 29, 2010

Egg Safety

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 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

Agvocating with Free Fun

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 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

Corn Silage

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

Dairy Delight

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 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.