Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

As a volunteer for Benton County Farm Bureau,I presented a $250 garden grant check from Arkansas Farm Bureau to this Russell Jones Elementary School second grade teacher and her students. I was treated to a tour of their awesome school garden and they shared with me what they were learning about the garden and growing their own plants. I am thankful for enthusiastic teachers who invest their time and energy to teach students how food is produced using a practical hands on,get dirty approach! Who knows,there just might be a farmer in this garden of students!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dairy Save-a-Trip Plan

Rising prices for gas and diesel fuel are creating challenges for all farmers and consumers. Increased food costs at the grocery store are due to increases in the cost of packaging and transportation caused by high fuel prices. Unlike other business owners, farmers do not pass on this increased fuel farm cost to consumers. As I looked out my kitchen window today, I observed the activities that occur everyday on our dairy farm such as mixing feed and feeding the dairy cows, hauling feed to young heifers,and driving to pastures to feed and check cattle. Every task requires the use of a tractor or a truck. We are constantly scratching our heads and trying to figure ways to be more efficient in our daily activities. We call this head scratching plan the Save-a-Trip Plan. Maintaining equipment and making every trip count are at the top of our being more efficient list. Every trip to town usually has several stops to make the most efficient use of time and fuel. Dairy farm families like all families are trying to save money during these tough economic times. Here are a few general tips for any Save-a-Trip plan:

  • Drive more efficiently

  • Keep your vehicle in shape

  • Plan and combine trips

  • At the pump, use the octane level you need

You can find more details for saving fuel at the federal trade commission site or Common sense and Save-a-Trip make good economic sense on the farm or in the city!

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Sensational Cheese Support

    One thing I love about attending our Dairy Farmers of America cooperative annual meeting in Kansas City is the opportunity to taste new dairy products provided by a variety of dairy food companies. It also makes me proud to know that milk produced on family farms just like ours are providing the main ingredient for these tasty foods for all of us to enjoy. One of my favorite products is Borden Cheese. When you purchase Borden Cheese, you are supporting local dairy farm families just like mine. Two new flavors of cheese slices have been introduced in the Borden Singles Sensations product: 3 Cheese Italiano and Extra Sharp Cheddar. These two flavors join Hickory Smoked Swiss,Bacon Cheddar, Pepperjack, and Chipotle Cheddar. You may want to try this sandwich recipe for your family this weekend!

    Meatball Grinder

    1 1/2 lbs ground beef

    1 cup Italian breadcrumbs or panko

    2 eggs,lightly beaten

    1 garlic clove,minced

    1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flatleaf) parsley

    3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese,divided (3oz.)

    2 (24-oz.) jars marinara sauce

    4-6 hoagie rolls,split

    8-12 slices Borden Three Cheese Italiano Singles Sensations

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine ground beef,breadcrumbs,eggs,garlic,parsley,1/2 cup Parmesan cheese,and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Shape into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Place meatballs on a metal wire rack coated with nonstick cooking spray. Place rack in a foil-lined baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until meatballs are browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 155 degrees F. Place marinara sauce in a large heavy pot over medium heat; Bring to boiling. Add meatballs; Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Preheat broiler to low. Place 4 or 5 meatballs and sauce into each roll. Top with 2 slices of Borden Three Cheese Italiano Singles Sensations. Place uncovered, on a broiler rack; place under broiler. Broil until cheese melts. Serve warm.

    You can find more tasty recipes at Thank-you for supporting your local dairy farm families!

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    With the arrival of spring, I am thankful for warmer weather,the smell of fresh green grass and the miracle of new life on the farm! This baby Holstein calf was born just a couple of hours ago and being cared for by her mother while the dairy farmer watches over both.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Spring Break Breakfast

    Spring has finally arrived! With every change of the season, I love spring because of the warmer days, new baby calves, the beauty of budding flowers and trees and spring break! Even though our work continues as usual on the dairy farm, we always look forward to a change in routine just like families that are enjoying spring break this week. Even on spring break, a nutritious breakfast is an important start to the day. I love peanut butter and chocolate milk so I'm suggesting you might change your breakfast routine and try a tasty shake!

    Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Shake

    1 cup of fat-free or 1% low-fat chocolate milk

    1/2 cup frozen banana slices

    1 tablespoon peanut butter

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


    Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth and creamy. Serve in tall glass or on-the-go container.

    You can find nutritional facts about this recipe and other great dairy recipes at

    Have a very dairy good spring break!

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    A Tribute to the American Farmer

    Tucked away in a collection of newspaper clippings and personal memorabilia of my mother-in law's personal keepsakes was this poem about the American farmer. We celebrate the bounty of food in America because of the farmers across our nation. I do not know who wrote this piece but I do know it was clipped from some type of farm magazine. I am sharing this today as a tribute to all farmers and farm families that are working so hard everyday and embracing the challenges to provide food,fiber, and fuel for our citizens.

    A Tribute to the American Farmer

    I am only a farmer. I know the sun better than anyone. And the soil. And the wind. And the rain. I am the man who works with them. Who lives with them. Who loves them. And who sometimes fears them.

    I am only a farmer. I am the sower of seeds. I am the tender of stock. I am the reaper of harvest. I am sweat. And tears. And pride.

    I am only a farmer. I am the man the feeds the young. And the old. The weak. And the strong. I am the black earth of Spring. The green hills of Summer. The harvest gold of Autumn. And the cold white stillness of winter.

    I am only a farmer. I am warm memories of the past. The steely reality of the present. And a hopeful dream of the future. I am an optimist. A thinker. A watcher. And a doer.

    I am only a farmer. I live in a complex world. Made of simple things. And they are my source of joy. And hope. And comfort. I have walked the morning fogs. I have paused for the Summer song of the meadowlark. And I have savored the breeze off freshly cut hay. I have paused, remembering, by the stream I knew as a boy. I have felt the power of a thousand storms. And rejoiced in the fresh world left in their wake.

    I am only a farmer. I am an accountant. Chemist. And doctor. I am midwife.And mechanic. I am seller. Trader. And buyer. I am husband. Helper. And partner to my wife. I am father. Friend. Comforter. And teacher to my children.

    I am only a farmer. Not a man of riches. But a man of great wealth. I have learned to treasure life. And all things living. To respect their maker. And my own. I am humbled by the earth's bounty. And awed by endless rebirth. I am facinated by the marvelous intricacies of my world. And enriched by their beauty.

    I am only a farmer. If a man can be truly free, then I truly am. The day. The week. The month. They have been entrusted to me. They are mine to spend. They are mine to invest. They are mine to use wisely. It is a solitary profession I have chosen. Or,perhaps, that I have been chosen for. A profession where there are no certainties. Where no guarantees are granted. No promises granted. No promises given. No excuses taken. I have but one man to answer to. One man to depend upon. One man to confide in. And in the quiet of the years,I have come to know him well.

    I am only a farmer. In perserverance and creativity. And courage.

    I am only a farmer. I am confidence. And ingenuity. And intelligence.

    I am only a farmer. A seeker of excellence...And I will endure.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    Last week I was presented with my very own milk can as a remembrance for serving the past two years as Arkansas Farm Bureau Women's Committee Chairwoman. I am thankful for all the Farm Bureau Women that I not only call my friends but for the fact that we share our passion for agriculture through promotion and education in our communities across Arkansas!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    National Agriculture Day

    Dairy farm families across America are working every day to provide safe,high quality milk and dairy products. National Agriculture Day is a great opportunity to celebrate that fact and point out that while producing a great product, we are also caring for our land and animals.

    You might find these dairy facts of interest:

    • According to USDA, 98 percent of all U.S. dairy farms are family owned and operated

    • More milk is produced today with only 9 million cows than with 26 million cows in 1944

    • Dairy is the No. 1 agricultural business in California,Idaho,Maine,Michigan,New Mexico,New York,Pennsylvania,Vermont and Wisconsin

    While American farmers are providing the safest,most affordable and available food, we are also providing jobs and economic support for our local communities. In a recent article about American agriculture, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack stated,"Every one billion dollars in agriculture exports supports 8,000 American jobs, which means agricultural exports supported nearly one million jobs in 2010."

    Food security is important to all American families. With only two percent of our population providing food,fiber and fuel for all Americans, National Agriculture Day is a great opportunity to not only celebrate agriculture but share information about how we continue to provide for all consumers.

    Happy Ag Day!

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Dairy Cows and Clocks

    Farmers love daylight savings time! It means more daylight hours to work at the many tasks on the farm and begin work in the fields planting the crops that we raise to feed our dairy cows. Turning the clocks back is the easy part of this change to daylight savings time on the farm. Dairy cows are creatures of habit and even though they don't wear watches or look at clocks to know what time it is, they know when it is time to come to the milk barn to be milked. The day before we change our clocks, we talk to all of our employees about how we will gradually change the milking time for the cows. Changes in our milk schedule will often change the cow's milk production. We know this from when we have the unexpected breakdown of equipment or loss of power in the milk barn. Milking too early or too late not only affects production but can also have an impact on cow comfort. The cows look forward to coming to the barn to be milked! Yesterday, the first day of daylight savings time,we started each milking at 8a.m. and 8p.m. , which is thirty minutes later than our regular milking time. Today we started milking at 7:30. We have found after many years of the time change that this gradual change in schedule works well with the cows' clock. The cows adjust much better than I do to this change. In about thirty days, I will quit whining and complaining about getting up in the dark and I will enjoy the warm spring days as I work outside. Thank goodness the cows' clock adjusts quicker than mine!

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    National Nutrition Month

    March is designated as National Nutrition Month. It's a great time to focus on eating a wide variety of colorful,nutrient rich foods, eating a hearty breakfast and take every opportunity to be more active outside. If you're like me and struggle with eating breakfast, here are some breakfast ideas you may want to try for your family or yourself:

    • Get Moo-ving: Make a protein-packed breakfast shake by blending low-fat chocolate milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter,half a banana and some ice cubes. Or, make a smoothie with low fat yogurt, your favorite fresh or frozen fruit and a few ice cubes. Mix in a blender.

    • Benedict Bagel: Layer a slice of ham,Swiss cheese and a poached egg on a toasted whole-wheat bagel for a protein packed breakfast.

    • Breakfast Split: Skewer a medium banana, roll in your favorite flavored yogurt and then in whole grain cereal for a creamy,crunchy start to the day.

    You can find more recipes and great information at Do you have a favorite breakfast to entice a non-breakfast lover? I'd love to hear from you!

    Hope you have a dairy good day!

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    Yesterday these two boys were the young adult men in charge of our farm. I am thankful for being the mother of these two fourth generation dairy farmers!

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Hearing Health

    Agricultural Safety Awareness Week March 6-12 is a great time to share information about noise induced hearing loss. After reading information about noise induced hearing loss, I don't think I can accuse my husband of having selective hearing any more! After years of exposure to the noise of tractors and farm machinery, I'm sure he does suffer from noise induced hearing loss. According to the University of Arkansas AgrAbility program(, here are some facts about noise induced hearing loss:

    • it can affect anyone that is exposed to hazardous noise at work

    • 33% of all people who are exposed to hazardous noise at work will develop hearing loss

    • agriculture is one of the highest risk professions

    • noise induced hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities for Arkansas farmers

    Noise induced hearing loss can be developed gradually as a result of chronic exposure or can develop suddenly as a result of a single impulsive noise exposure. While normal conversation is measured at 60 decibels, 85 decibels or higher is considered too loud. Hearing protection is recommended in the workplace if noise is at 85 decibels for exposures longer than eight continuous hours. Both the amount of noise and the length of exposure contribute to hearing damage. There are many styles of hearing protectors available but the best one to use is the one you actually wear! I hope you will find this information worth sharing with your family or co-worker because noise induced hearing is painless,progressive and permanent but it is preventable!

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Bermuda Grass Competition

    Did you know that Northwest Arkansas farmers grow premium Bermuda grass hay? Farmers in our county have actually won national hay awards for several years. Bermuda is a great forage that we grow to feed young calves,heifers and beef cattle. Hay production is a very important part of our farming operation. As much as we love it for our animals, it is not a welcome sight to me in the flower beds or vegetable garden. Even though we're still anticipating the first day of spring, yesterday's balmy weather took me to the flower bed where I was looking for the green tips of some new iris bulbs that I had planted late last spring. To my dismay, the entire bed was covered with a thick covering of dead Bermuda grass that had been allowed to grow crazy last summer. Bermuda grass in the flower bed or vegetable garden is a curse. It grows fast, loves full sun,can grow in a drought,and has a root system that invades any where it is not welcome. As I was pulling the grass out of the flower bed, I thought how ironic that tonight is the awards banquet for the premium Bermuda hay producers in the county. It's a love-hate relationship for me!

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    I'm thankful for the opportunity to raise and care for animals on our family dairy farm. Watching these calves enjoy their grain is what I call living in the moment--focus on what's important!