Sunday, July 31, 2011

Value Added Investment for Dairy Farmers

While waiting to attend our Dairy Farmers of America cooperative summer information luncheon meeting, I was gathering information provided by different vendors about new products we can use on the farm, dairy promotion materials, and newly developed dairy products. As a dairy farmer that produces milk for consumers, I find it fascinating to learn about new products that our dairy cooperative is developing to meet consumer needs and requests. With no breakfast and just before lunch, I enjoyed sampling the new cheese spreads that are being introduced into markets across the country!

Janine Smiley,who works in the Global Dairy Products Group division of our cooperative, kept busy as she gave explanation about the new products and provided samples for us to enjoy. Developing and testing new food products, manufacturing and marketing consumer brand name products and marketing ingredients such as nonfat dry milk powder are handled within this division. You can find more information about our cooperative and our products at

Dairy Farmers of America products are sold in every state and exported globally. Those products represent a farmer owned cooperative with 16,000 members across America. As one of those members, I appreciate what our cooperative is doing to develop,manufacture and market dairy products for all of our members and consumers.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

True Dairy Gals

Yesterday we traveled to Springfield,Missouri, to attend our Dairy Farmers of America Cooperative summer information meeting. Members from Arkansas,Missouri, and Oklahoma met to receive updates about our cooperative's business and the challenges we face in the dairy industry. It is also a very social and fun time for the entire family. The minute you walk in the door, you can find all kinds of free ice cream bars and milk mingled with information booths about dairy promotion,new dairy products and services that are available from our cooperative.

We look forward to this event because it allows us an opportunity to visit with other dairy farm families that we don't see at any other time. For the last thirty years, Mrs. Betty Clark from Arkansas has been attending these summer information meetings with her daughters and granddaughter. It is definitely a family affair for three generations of true dairy gals that have grown up on the dairy and continue the family dairy tradition on their own farms. Each year the gals wear shirts with the True Dairy Gal label. After the meeting, you may find them together at the Ozark Fair or shopping at the local mall. Where ever you find them, they will be having a good time!

These True Dairy Gals represent not only the commitment that it takes from the family farm to produce safe,high quality milk and dairy products, but also the importance of family to each farming operation for multiple generations!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Time Activity Snack Pack

Just a few days ago, I was sitting close to this statue of King Neptune on Virginia Beach just enjoying the Atlantic sea breeze and watching families as they were playing in the sand,swimming or riding bicycles and skating on the boardwalk. I found it fascinating to observe the items that families were carrying to the beach for their day in the sun. Most of them had small ice chests, beach towels, and lounge chairs. Many of the children had beach balls,Frisbees and volleyballs. Everywhere you looked, people were enjoying activities with their families. It wouldn't be too long before the ice chest was opened for a snack and drink. All this activity made me thirsty and hungry just watching.

Whatever outdoor activity you choose to enjoy this summer, it is imporant to make sure that you stay hydrated and have plenty of healthy snacks. Milk is 90 percent water and is a great choice for replacing fluids and preventing dehydration after exercise. Here are some other dairy good suggestions for on-the-go nutritious snacks that will restore nutrients and refuel tired muscles:

-Snack cheese cubes,sticks and slices

-String cheese

-Flavored yogurts

-Portable yogurt in a tube

-Yogurt smoothies

-Drinkable yogurt

-Fat free flavored milk

I'm back to my outdoor activities on the dairy farm--think I'll have a big tall cold glass of milk when I get through with farm chores! Have a dairy good day!

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Last week members of Arkansas Farm Bureau gathered in Hot Springs for the summer Officers and Leaders Conference. As an organization and individually, we were deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our past leader Stanley Reed. During Stanley's leadership, Arkansas Farm Bureau adopted a mission statement that defines our organization perfectly. Using this statement, Stanley guided and encouraged each of us to move forward for agriculture as we:

  • Advocate the interests of agriculture in the public arena

  • Disseminate information concerning the value and importance of agriculture

  • Provide products and services which improve the quality of life for our members

I'm thankful for the privilege to have known Stanley and for the difference he has made for Arkansas Farm Bureau, the citizens of Arkansas, and to me personally.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Challenges and Opportunities of Drought

Many of the old timers in our area believe that one weather extreme follows another. This year is proving them right. After receiving thirty inches of rain in May which delayed our crop planting and hay harvesting, we are now in a drought. Our corn is still growing but if it doesn't receive rain at the right time, it will not make enough feed for what our dairy cows will need in their diet plan. Looking ahead at the possibility of needing more corn, we found another farmer in the area who is willing to sell his corn crop now that he had intended to be picked later in the season. Due to the drought his corn crop will not make enough corn for picking. Farmers work every day to make the best of what ever challenge is presented.

Our corn chopper and trucks pulled into the field late this afternoon to get started on the chopping. It was 100 degrees in the shade. The corn is chopped into small pieces and blown into the truck. The truck will haul it to our silo at the dairy where it will be stored and go through a fermentation process that changes it to silage.

No farmer is happy with this dry weather, but farmers try to make the best of every situation. In my opinion, that must be a special trait that God has given them!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Peach Ice Cream

Enjoying a bowl of homemade peach ice cream that my Mother made to celebrate my Uncle Carl's seventy seventh birthday was a perfect end to one of the hottest days on the dairy farm. The secret to the great flavor of this ice cream is to make sure you have juicy ripe peaches.

Peach Ice Cream


1 quart fresh crushed peaches (juicy ripe!)

juice of 3 lemons

dash salt

1- 12 oz. can evaporated milk

3 cups of sugar

whole milk

1 gallon ice cream freezer

Crush peaches and mix with lemon juice and salt. Add evaporated milk and sugar to peaches and mix well. Add whole milk to fill line on freezer. Freeze.

Yield: 1 gallon

What ever you might be celebrating--homemade ice cream is the perfect summer treat!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dairy Farm Water Tank Patrol

During a typical Arkansas summer, heat and humidity make a very uncomfortable environment for our dairy cows. Milk production may decrease by as much as fifty percent. While we can't control the weather, we do strive to reduce heat stress by providing plenty of water. Water is the primary nutrient needed to make milk and aids in the cow's digestive process. On an average day a milking cow will drink a bathtub full of water but with increased temperatures and humidity, the cows may drink up to fifty percent more water.

It is critical for our cows' health to make sure that water is readily available. Our cows have easy access to water tanks located in the feed barn and in the pastures close to shade. Additional water tanks have been placed in pastures to make sure that the cows have enough water to drink during the extreme hot weather we have been experiencing in these last couple of weeks. Our cows are monitored closely during the day and water tanks checked frequently. If water should become unavailable due to power outage or a malfunction in the well pump, we have an emergency plan in place for how we will haul water to the cows. We are on high alert to make sure that our water system is working properly and water tanks remain full.

Patrolling the water tanks is an important job in making sure that our cows stay healthy during these stressful hot days. Quality milk begins with healthy cows!

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

We purchased this piece of spray equipment two years ago. With the mechanical help of one of Ryan's childhood friends, last week we used it to spray liquid fertilizer on this field of haygrazer. As I looked across the field watching these friends working together, I felt very blessed and thankful to live and work in a community of lifelong farmer friends.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ice Cream Tradition

Today is National Ice Cream Day! Do you have a favorite flavor?
With the many choices available, it is more difficult to decide. One of our favorite family summertime family traditions is to make a freezer of ice cream. When I was growing up, we used the hand crank model. It was such a thrill to get to help turn the crank or sit on the top to provide weight for the person cranking the handle. Life is much easier now with the electric model but I have great family memories of making ice cream. If you don't have an ice cream freezer, you can make your own family memories with your kids or grandkids by making ice cream in a bag.

Squeeze Freeze Ice Cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
Ice cubes
Other Items:
Small re-sealable plastic bag
Large re-sealable plastic bag
Measuring spoons
Measuring cup
Plastic spoon

Put sugar and vanilla in small plastic bag. Also put salt in large plastic bag. Hold the small bag open and pour in milk. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and properly seal. Drop the small bag in to the large plastic bag with salt in it. Add 18-20 ice cubes. Remove as much air as possible from the large bag and properly seal. Knead the bag for approximately 10 minutes, making sure ice in the larger bag surrounds the smaller bag. When a soft ice cream is formed, remove small bag from large bag, open and eat right out of bag with a plastic spoon. For extra fun, add fresh seasonal fruit or other favorite ice cream toppings.
Note:It is important to use whole milk. Other types of milk take too long to freeze. Salt is also very important. Without it, the ice cream will not freeze. One pint of half and half can be added to a gallon of milk. This makes the ice cream richer and freezes faster. Be sure to have plenty of paper towels on hand.

I would also suggest you have your camera ready to capture the smiles you will see with this project!
You can find information about how dairy farmers work to produce milk for all these dairy foods that we enjoy at This fun recipe can be found with a great variety of other dairy recipes at

Hope you enjoy your favorite flavor today and provide a memory for your family!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cow Candy

Before I married the dairy farmer, quite a few of my first summer time dates were spent riding on the tractor with the dairy farmer as he chopped green hay grazer grass to feed the dairy cows. Late this afternoon just before the sun was setting, Ryan and I jumped into the truck and went on a farmer date to drive to the field and check on the hay grazer crop that was planted several weeks ago.

Even though we have only received about an inch of rain since this seed was planted several weeks ago, it has grown waist high--perfect cow candy time! This grass can be harvested by green chopping or baling. When it is green chopped, it is actually chopped up and blown into a truck or wagon that will transport it to the dairy and be fed fresh. If it is baled, it is mowed and baled like hay. Either way it is harvested, the cows love this cow candy! Our dairy nutritionist will formulate a diet that adds cow candy with all the other feed ingredients to make sure that the cows are receiving a completely balanced diet. With the drought that we are experiencing, we are grateful for any crop that we will harvest.

Cow candy and dates with the farmer are all about how we work everyday on the dairy farm to care for our animals and produce quality milk!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Working in this triple digit heat to care for our dairy cows and calves has been a challenge this week. Ryan's new dog,Jute, found the perfect solution--just jump in the water tank! I'm thankful for the joy and the smiles that our farm pets bring to us everyday as we work on the farm.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chocolate Lover's Healthy Snack

I tend to work up a sweat while feeding calves or working in the garden and I'm finding that water doesn't always quench my thirst. Hot weather also tends to decrease my appetite so it is important that snacks provide good nutrition. Chocolate milk is a perfect nutrient-packed thirst quenching snack that offers the same nutrients as regular milk and will help keep me hydrated. Milk contains protein,carbohydrates and is about ninety percent water. If you compare chocolate milk to other beverages such as juice,fruit punch,cola or diet cola,bottled water or sports drink, milk is the only beverage that contains nine essential nutrients. You might want to consider chocolate milk as a choice to offer your family after sporting events,exercising, or outdoor family activities to refuel healthy muscles and quench thirst.

Yesterday I returned from the grocery store with my favorite chocolate candy bar. When I compared the label of the candy bar with an eight ounce serving of 1% low-fat chocolate milk, it's pretty easy to see the nutritional bang I can get from chocolate milk plus help to quench my thirst. You can find more dairy nutrition information at or

Our weather man is predicting another scorcher today---think I will have that big glass of cold chocolate milk now! Will you join me?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Trait of a Farmer

Weather patterns everywhere have been unusual this year. In May our crop planting was delayed because we had thirty inches of rain with flooding. In the last thirty days, we have had less than an inch. Every year we grow one hundred acres of corn that will be made into corn silage for our dairy cows. This corn silage will be added to all the other feed ingredients that we purchase to make a completely balanced diet for our cows to enjoy throughout the year. High quality milk from our dairy cows occurs because of the nutritious ingredients in their diet.

One of my jobs yesterday was to help move spray equipment to the corn field. It was at least one hundred degrees,humid and steamy in the corn field.
Spraying a corn field for weed eradication usually happens earlier and in cooler weather but one of the lessons I have learned with farming is that the conditions or circumstances that we work with are not always perfect. Weather is definitely a condition beyond our control.

As I watched Ryan moving through the field on the old John Deere spray rig, I thought how amazing the American farmer is in the best or worst conditions. Farmers are dedicated to protecting the land,air ,and water while producing the most abundant,affordable and available food for Americans and the world by using sound science and modern technology and if you need a dose of optimism, find a farmer to talk to--he's got it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Routine Commitments

Our daily routine on the dairy farm includes milking 300 Holstein cows at seven thirty in the morning and seven thirty at night,twice a day, three hundred sixty five days a year. We are committed to providing quality milk which begins with consistent routine daily care of our dairy cows. Routine daily care includes activities such as feeding the dairy cows,milking the cows and making sure the cows are comfortable. The word routine might sound dull and boring but I can tell you that when working with cows, there is never a dull moment. In everyday's schedule we must have flexibility to deal with the unplanned events such as delivery of a calf,repairing equipment, mending fences,or driving to town for an item that we didn't plan on needing. The intense heat that we have had in this past week also adds increased monitoring of the water supply and comfort of the cows.

As I walked back to the house tonight from a trip to the dairy barn before the evening milking, I noticed about half of the first herd of cows were already standing at the gate, ready to enter the parlor to be milked. Cows are very much creatures of habit and when time to be milked, you will often find the same cows at the head of the line. Routine makes the cows happy! Just like the dairy cows, I find a certain amount of comfort in following routine and schedule--it's one of the reasons I do like living on the dairy farm and working every day with my family!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

In the middle of the afternoon these dairy cows enjoy the shade provided from trees in our yard. I am thankful for the rain we received this week that cooled our triple digit temperatures and provided a much needed drink for our crops,pastures,flowers, and trees.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Youthful Cheese

While preparing for our 4th of July picnic, I was looking for an easy dessert that would go well with homemade ice cream and be easy to pack up with the picnic food. Deep in the back of the recipe drawer that contains everything that I can't find, was the perfect recipe --Black Bottom Cupcakes. The ingredient that makes this recipe stand out is cream cheese. Cream cheese is considered a fresh or unaged cheese. Its mild,fresh tasting and sweet flavor makes it one of the most widely-consumed cheeses used in a variety of recipes.

Here are a few tips for storing youthful or unaged cheese:

-unaged cheese is highly perishable, keep refrigerated

-the fresher the cheese, the better the flavor

-open within the package dating code and use within one week after opening

-keep tightly wrapped or sealed until gone

-if mold forms on any part of cheese, discard all of the cheese

-freezing is not recommended due to change in texture when thawed

Black Bottom Cupcakes


1 package (80unces) cream cheese,softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla



Chopped almonds,if desired

Combine cream cheese,sugar,egg and salt in a small mixing bowl;blend until smooth. Stir in chips. Set aside. Sift toether flour,cocoa,salt,sugar,and soda. Add egg,water,vinegar,oil and vanilla; beat until well combined. Fill paper-lined muffin tins half full with chocolate batter. Drop a heaping teaspoon of cheese mixture in center of batter of each cupcake. Sprinkle with sugar and chopped almonds, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate any leftovers. Yield: 20-24 cupcakes

You can find more delicious cream cheese recipes at Hope you find the perfect recipe for youthful (unaged) cream cheese!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom to Celebrate

Happy July 4th! Our traditional holiday celebration begins after all the daily chores are done on the dairy. Our celebration will include a picnic this evening in a shady area next to our largest pond that we call Anglin Lake. Anglin Lake is actually a spring fed pond that we enlarged by joining two smaller ponds together several years ago. Our traditional picnic spot is perfect for watching fireworks from the surrounding cities of Centerton,Bentonville, Rogers and even a few from Springdale. With the rain we are having today, we can also plan to shoot a few fireworks of our own without the fear of setting a fire!

Today's celebration would not be possible without the dedication of the men and women who have served and are presently serving our country to protect the freedoms we enjoy today. Ryan's father,Bill, served in Japan during World War II. As a family we appreciate the sacrifice that members of our military make to serve our country. July 4th is not only the time to celebrate America but also to remind us of how blessed we are as a nation!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

America,the Beautiful

In 1893 Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write the words to the song, America,the Beautiful, when she reached the top of Pikes Peak and looked at the beauty from the top of the mountain. We will be singing this very song today at the Vaughn Presbyterian Church as we give thanks to God for the freedoms we enjoy in our country and the beauty that surrounds us.

America,the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain.

For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood,from sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern,impassioned stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat, across the wilderness!

America! America! God mend thine every flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self control, Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Beat the Heat

As much as I would like to sit around in the cool air conditioned house and eat ice cream during July, that is simply not a realistic plan when you live on a dairy farm. Facing triple digit temperatures for the next few days and through out the rest of the summer,I decided it would be a good time to read up on ways to prevent heat related illness. Anyone who works outside such as farmers, construction workers, or pool lifeguards, should be cautious as the temperatures rise. The information also pointed out that some people are at greater risk for heat related illness such as: infants and young children,people aged 65 or older, people who have a mental illness and those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure. Steps to prevent heat stress while working include:

--wear light-colored,loose-fitting,breathable clothing such as cotton.

--gradually build up to heavy work

--schedule heavy work during the coolest parts of day

--take more breaks in extreme heat and humidity; take breaks in the shade or a cool area when


--drink water frequently; drink enough water that you never become thirsty

--avoid drinks with caffeine,alcohol,and large amounts of sugar

--be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of

heat stress; monitor your physical condition and that of coworkers

As I go out to feed calves or work in the garden, I'll be wearing my farmer hat and sunglasses and drinking plenty of water and milk throughout the day. What preventive steps will you take to prevent heat related illness?