Monday, October 31, 2011

Attributes of an Ayrshire

Last week, Roxanne,Cody's Ayrshire cow, gave birth to a beautiful red and white heifer calf. Roxanne is special to all of us because she is the daughter of an Ayrshire heifer that Cody purchased the last year he was in 4-H as part of his dairy herd project. Roxanne was born and raised on our farm and is now the fourth Ayrshire to be milking  in our mostly black and white Holstein herd.

Here are some facts about the Ayrshire dairy breed:
  • originated in Scotland
  • brought to the United States in 1822
  • reddish to brown mahogany color with white
  • average cow weighs 1000-1300 lbs.
  • easy calving and longevity
  • strong
  • adapt to all management systems
  • have vigorous calves
  • produce moderate butterfat and relatively high protein milk
  • efficient grazer
  • adapt to less than ideal conditions

Roxanne was enjoying resting in the pasture this afternoon when I went to take her picture.  I would add photogenic to her list of attributes!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chocolate Milk--Trick or Treat?

Chocolate milk is stated to be the official drink of Halloween but low-fat chocolate milk is a nutritious treat any day of the year.  Low-fat or fat-free chocolate milk contains the same nine essential nutrients as white milk and strikes a balance between good nutrition and good fun. It's a fact--Milk provides nutrients essential for good health, and kids drink more when it's flavored.

Many parents have concern about the sugar content of flavored milk but on average, flavored milk contributes only 3% of total added sugars and only 2% of total calories to the diets of children ages 2 to 18 years.  In the last five years, the dairy industry has responded to these concerns by reducing the added sugar of flavored milk.  According to information from the National Dairy Council (, research has shown that kids that drink flavored milk:
  • drink more milk overall and have better quality diets
  • meet more of their nutrient needs
  • do not consume more added sugar,fat or calories
  • are not heavier than non-milk drinkers
You can find more information about flavored milk at

                   I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween  and enjoy dairy treats all year long!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Halloween Holiday Salad

Holiday Salad is a recipe that my Dad made  for every holiday meal. The original recipe uses wild strawberry jello but since Halloween is Monday, I substituted orange jello.  I like this recipe because it's easy and can be prepared ahead. 

Holiday Salad

1- 15 oz. crushed pineapple
1 - 3 oz. orange jello 
1 -small carton small curd cottage cheese
1 -8oz. Cool Whip

Heat pineapple to boiling; stir in jello until disolved. Let partially set in refrigerator. Add cottage cheese and Cool Whip,stirring till mixed well.  Place in serving dish and chill.

Hope you have a safe,fun Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

As I watched the yellow and orange leaves falling from the maple tree outside my kitchen window  this afternoon , it definitely looked like fall. Even though life on the dairy  farm is always busy, we have managed to enjoy fun times together. One of my favorite fall and Halloween memories with our boys was  pumpkin carving. From selecting the pumpkin to cleaning up the mess, I'm thankful for fun times together as a family and the memories that will last a lifetime!  Are you making some fun fall memories with your family?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Responsible Environmental Protection

Responsible manure management protects the environment for us and our neighbors.  I felt like the dairymom  paparazzi when I jumped into my vehicle and followed the tractor and manure spreader to the field this afternoon to take a few nutrient management pictures. My sons think I'm a little crazy and when I called Casey on the phone to tell him I was behind him, he didn't seem a bit surprised!

Recycling cow manure is important to the sustainability of our farm economically and environmentally.  Our cows provide natural fertilizer that adds nutrients to the soil for crop and pasture land and decreases the amount of commercial fertilizer that might need to be purchased. Our farm is regulated and monitored by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The  permit from this agency allows us to have storage areas for both liquid and dry manure. A manure nutrient management  plan designed for our farm guides the   amount,source,placement and timing of manure on our fields.

Today's manure was loaded into the slinging spreader from the dry manure stack at the end of the feed barn and applied to this field where we chopped corn last week. Conserving our natural resources and protecting the environment  by responsible manure management are part of  our everyday life on the dairy farm as we work to provide high quality milk.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Celebrate Food Choice on Food Day

Although the goal of Food Day is to change the food habits of American citizens, dairy farmers celebrate Food Day everyday by our commitment to provide the choice of nutritious milk and contributing to research and development of dairy products that meet the nutritional needs and choices of consumers.

Milk is a nutrient rich food that provides nine essential nutrients.  It is the number one food source for Vitamin D,calcium, and potassium--three of the four nutrients that Americans need to consume more of according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Dairy farmers have funded research and development of dairy products to provide milk choices that include low-fat,fat-free and lactose free varieties, and cheese and yogurt products to meet individual taste and nutritional goals.

Ninety eight percent of all United States dairy farms are family-owned and operated. Our sons are now the fourth generation to live and work on our farm. We take great pride in the product we produce and are committed to providing high quality milk by taking good care of our cows and being good caretakers of our land for the next generation. By utilizing sound science and technology, dairy farmers are reducing the amount of feed, water and space needed while increasing the amount of nutrient-rich dairy products for a growing population.  It's no mistake that United States dairy farmers are producing almost three times more milk with about half the number of cows compared to 1960. More information about dairy farming and sustainability can be found at

Celebrating Food Choice on Food Day is possible because of dairy farm families working everyday to provide that choice.  Dairy farm families truly celebrate Food Day everyday by working together to produce safe,nutritious milk!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

4-H--Makes the Best Better

I pledge : My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service,My Health to better living for my club, my community,my country and my world.
4-H members recite this pledge at the beginning of every club meeting. It  describes the purpose of 4-H perfectly. October is 4-H promotion month and even though my boys are no longer in 4-H, I will always be a strong advocate for the 4-H program because I have witnessed first hand how involvement in 4-H helps to nurture and teach children how to develop into model citizens while learning life skills.

As I looked through several stacks of pictures of the many 4-H activities that Cody and Casey were involved in over a ten year period of membership, I realized how thankful I am for the privilege I have had to see their growth and development in a unique way while being involved as a family in every activity.

Even though  my sons'  main 4-H projects were related to dairy and agriculture, each enjoyed learning a variety of skills like cooking and sewing. We still laugh about the largest cookie baked by Cody and the cake batter that was spattered all over the walls of our county extension office during a cake baking demonstration activity by Casey and friend Beau. One of my favorite activities was helping our club members sew Christmas stockings each year  for a local children's shelter and then filling them with gifts.

I look forward to attending  the  annual Benton County 4-H Achievement Banquet in just a couple of weeks to celebrate the successes of  4-H members. It is a rewarding experience to see the difference 4-H is making for the future of our community and fulfilling the motto to "make the best better".You can find  information about 4-H in Arkansas at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nursing Baby Calves

The weather was perfect last week when I had University of Arkansas nutrition students touring the dairy farm. When we were looking at baby calves in their individual calf hutches, one of the students asked me what we did when the weather got cold. My quick reply was that I put on warmer clothes.  I didn't realize that I would be adding those warmer clothes this week! When the weather man said it was twenty nine degrees with wind this morning, I suited up for calf feeding chores with my hooded sweatshirt and coveralls.Although you can't see it, I always have my nursing hat on when I go to feed calves!

Temperature and weather changes like we have had this week create a stress for our baby calves and stress can lead to illness. Even though the inside of the individual calf hutch is warm and cozy, each calf will be closely monitored for any signs of pneumonia.  As we feed the calves, I observe their activity and eating behavior and listen for coughing or unusual breathing that may occur if they are getting sick.  After all the calves are fed, I will walk through the rows of hutches for a second observation of each calf.   It is important to monitor baby calves closely and if necessary treat with medication prescribed by our veterinarian.

Raising healthy baby calves is a job I take seriously because these calves will eventually be part of our milking herd. I've used my nursing degree everyday on the farm-raising baby calves and kids!  Our commitment to producing quality milk starts every day in the calf hutches with consistent,vigilant care making sure each calf is healthy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

While the highways in Northwest Arkansas were jam packed with shoppers making their stops to all the October art and craft fairs last weekend, we were chopping corn and hauling it to the silo. Since our area has become more urbanized, moving farm machinery and hauling crops can be tricky when the traffic increases.   I am thankful for our crops and for the fact that so far it has been a safe harvest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Double Dairy Dessert

Do you think of pumpkin pie as a dairy dessert? I'm saying yes because besides pumpkin, one of the main ingredients in the recipe I use is evaporated milk.  Evaporated milk is dehydrated milk made by removing sixty percent of the water,then homogenizing,canning and sterilizing for a shelf stable product.

Evaporated milk has been considered a staple ingredient for kitchens since developed in 1890 and was a great addition to kitchens before home refrigeration was common. Pet Milk was one of the first brands of evaporated milk in the United States and the one I remember in my own grandmother's kitchen.
Evaporated milk:
  • can stand high temperatures without curdling.
  • adds creaminess to thick sauces,puddings,and crockpot recipes.
  • is good as a dipping liquid for breading meats,fish,or poultry.
  • can be whipped but will collapse quickly.
  • if using as a fresh milk substitution, you may need to reduce the sugar in the recipe.
  • can be substituted in equal amounts for cream or half and half.
  •  can be substituted  for 1 cup milk=1/2 cup evaporated milk+1/2 cup water.
Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15oz) pure pumpkin
1 can(12fl.oz) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-in deep-dish pie shell

Mix sugar,salt,cinnamon,ginger and cloves in small bowl.Beat eggs in large bowl.Stir in pumpkin and sugar spice mixture. Gradually stir  in evaporated milk.
Pour into pie shell.
Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees;bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.Serve immediately or refrigerate.

When you add that spoonful of whipped cream or ice cream to the piece of pumpkin pie, I consider that a double dairy dessert!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sorghum Harvest

These past few days in Northwest Arkansas have been perfect for harvesting our corn and sorghum silage crops that will be used to feed our dairy cows through the next two seasons.  We feel fortunate that we have any crops to harvest considering the flooding in the spring that delayed crop planting and the severe summer drought. Actually, we are amazed that we have such a great crop of sorghum!

Today I drove to the field where Ryan and our two sons were harvesting the sorghum. Standing next to the plants, the seed heads at the top of the plants towered more than two feet above my head.  Both stem and seed head are chopped together and will provide energy and other nutrients when added to our cows diet.

After the silage is cut and blown into the truck, it will be hauled and packed into the silo and allowed to ferment for a period of time. Before we feed this silage to the cows, a sample will be sent to the lab for a nutritional analysis for our dairy nutritionist to use in designing a nutritious diet that utilizes the feed we have available to meet the specific nutritional needs of our cows.

As I watched the chopper moving up and down the field rows and the trucks filling up with silage, I know there was a big smile on my face as I watched my family working together to feed our cows  and thinking about how our  cows would enjoy eating this labor of love!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

World Food Day-October 16

World Food Day gives recognition to our continued need to feed the hungry. In 1943 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought representatives of the allied nations together to consider the establishment of an international organization to deal with food and agriculture issues after World War II, the world population was smaller but faced what appeared to be insurmountable problems of hunger and devastation. With today's expanding world population, the solution to world hunger will require choosing to use existing and expanding scientific knowledge and technology in agriculture.

As a dairy farmer/dairymom  and consumer, food is the center of my universe every day. If I'm not shopping for food,preparing food or eating food, I am working three hundred sixty five days a year producing safe milk for consumers. Ninety-eight percent of all dairy farms in America are family farms, like mine, and regardless of the size of the farm or the method of production--our ultimate goal is to produce safe,healthy milk or milk product.

In a world with hungry people, we must be able to use every bit of sound science and technology that is available to feed our rapidly growing population. According to USDA statistics, United States dairy farmers today are producing almost three times more milk with about half the number of cows compared to 1960. Producing more milk has reduced the amount of feed,water and space needed. (Sustainability and Dairy Farming Fact Sheet found at Over the past sixty years, improvements in animal genetics,feeding rations,animal health programs,cow comfort and overall management practices have reduced dairy's carbon footprint by sixty three percent.  Sustaining our family farms by using our resources wisely supported by sound science and technology will allow us to continue to produce the needed food.

Sometimes the solution to hunger can be simply helping your neighbor.  Today, on World Food Day, I challenge you to consider donating to your local food pantry or work with an organization in your community to feed the hungry.  You can follow World Food Day comments on twitter by using the hashtag #bad11 or visit the Blog Action Day site at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Myth Busting Dairy Farm Tour

Dairy farm tours provide a perfect opportunity to share how we work everyday to produce a safe product, open conversations about food production, and bust any myths or misperceptions about dairy or dairy farming. I was not surprised during yesterday's farm tour when the University of Arkansas nutrition student told me that she purchased a particular brand of milk because it stated on the label that it had no antibiotics.  It's a common myth that many consumers believe that milk contains antibiotics unless you purchase a product that is labeled antibiotic free.

I love to see and listen to the reaction of students when you bust the antibiotic dairy myth by sharing these facts:
  • It is absolutely illegal for any milk to be sold with antibiotics.
  • The milk from a cow being treated for an illness with antibiotics is separated from other cows' milk and disposed of.
  • Milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and at the processing plant.
  • Milk and dairy products are among the most highly regulated foods in this country.
Dairy farmers are committed to providing a safe,steady supply of dairy products.  You can find more dairy myth busting information at or

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

University of Arkansas nutrition students are visiting our dairy farm this week to learn  how we work everyday to produce a safe,healthy product.  Several of the students told me they have never been on a farm and appreciate the opportunity to visit.  I am thankful for teachers that value agriculture and  want their students to understand where  food  comes from , how it is produced , and to appreciate that we as Americans enjoy the safest,most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Moo Facts for National Farm to School Month

Did you know that October is National Farm to School Month?  The National Farm to School program works to improve child nutrition,sustain local farm economies, and educate children about where their food comes from. Dairy farmers have a great story to tell about milk that includes how we produce a nutritious product, while caring for our animals and the land we call home.

Here's a few interesting Moo Facts you can share with kids of all ages:
  • There are 60,000 dairy farms in the U.S. with 11,000 dairy farms in the Midwest.
  • It all starts with healthy cows: a dairy cow , on average, eats 90 pounds of hay,grain and silage each day, and drinks 25-50 gallons of water.
  • Comfortable cows are healthy cows: cows lay down up to 14 hours each day.
  • Before cows are milked, everything used in milking is cleaned and sanitized.
  • Cows are milked 2-3 times a day.
  • Each cow produces about 8-9 gallons of milk a day ,or more than 90 glasses. 
  • Milk is produced in all 50 states; the top 10 producing states are: California,Wisconsin,New York, Pennsylvania,Minnesota,Texas,New Mexico,Michigan,and Washington.
You can learn more Moo Facts and about the story of milk in the educational packet From Farm to Food to You that is available at Sharing the story of milk is a great way to celebrate National Farm to School Month!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bermuda Hay Challenges

Even though activity on the dairy farm seems to be speeding up with  the additional chores of planting grass seed,corn chopping and hay baling, the production of Bermuda hay is winding down with the onset of fall.  Although we purchase alfalfa  hay to feed the milking cows, we produce  Bermuda hay for our younger dairy animals and beef cattle. The Bermuda grass seems to  know its growing days are numbered before we have our first frost in just a few weeks.

As I watched Ryan raking the hay this afternoon, I noticed how much thinner the cut rows appeared.  This field would normally be cut and baled into small square bales that would be hand fed to young calves. Today it will be baled into large round bales for larger dairy calves and beef cattle due to the decreased quality and yield. Hay production on our farm and across Benton County has been less this year due to the extreme flooding in the spring and the drought this summer. Like all farmers in our county, we are scrambling to harvest every bale because of this shortage. 

Even if you follow the weather man and check the DTN weather map, it seems like  clouds will appear from nowhere when you are baling hay. Farmers always take this challenge!  Just as the raking was finished and the baler pulled into the field, the clouds were gathering.  Thankfully, the Bermuda  hay was baled without getting wet.  Now bring on the rain!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Power for Dairy Food Safety

Power outages usually occur when least expected.  Last week was the exception when the electric company notified us that our power would be turned off for a two hour period while existing lines were replaced.  Power outages at home are inconvenient and often irritating but, it's more than inconvenient when you are looking at 300 dairy cows that are ready and waiting in line to enter the milk barn and the lights go out!

Thank goodness we have a plan of action for the dairy when the power does get interrupted. Electrical power is important for cow comfort, quality milk and dairy food safety. Our cows' comfort depends on keeping to the milk schedule.  Electricity is used to run the equipment in the dairy barn to milk the cows, cool the milk and keep it cool until it leaves the farm for processing. Power is also needed  to run the system that washes and sanitizes the milking equipment after all the cows are milked before the next milking time.

Until last year, we used a generator that could be hooked up to the tractor to generate enough electrical power to get the cows milked. After experiencing five days without power from an ice storm and fearing that our small generator might not survive another lengthy power outage, we decided to invest in a stand alone generator.  This generator is much larger, runs more efficiently and provides enough power to get the cows milked,keep the milk cool and sanitize the milking equipment.

Dairy food safety is powered not only by electricity but by every dairy farmer's  commitment to provide safe,high quality milk and dairy products.  Hope you will power up with  some great dairy product this weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Last week I was honored to represent Arkansas dairy farmers when Governor Mike Beebe and First Lady Ginger Beebe signed the pledge of support for Fuel Up to Play 60.  Arkansas already  has 900 schools participating in this dairy farmer funded program that is designed to empower students to make healthy nutritional choices and get the needed 60 minutes of activity every day.  I'm thankful for the impact that Fuel Up to Play 60 will have in empowering students across our state to "be healthy,get active and make a difference."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dairymom's Best Crop

Mornings that require long sleeves and light jackets followed by short sleeved t-shirts in the afternoon would describe the temperature perfectly in northwest Arkansas for the past week.  Although we would welcome rain, the weather has been perfect for planting for winter and spring grass crops.

Dairy farming is labor intensive every day but when you add planting and harvesting to the schedule it does get a little crazy! We are fortunate to have both our sons working on the farm with us.   Each day last week, time was spent getting ready to plant one field. A trip was made to Missouri to buy the seed, the equipment was serviced, the field was disked,and finally the planter was taken to the field. When Ryan and I returned from our trip to Little Rock on Friday, Cody needed one more hour to finish the planting of this field.  We arrived just in time to help fill the planter with seed for the final round to finish the planting. 

As I watched Cody driving across the field, I remembered what my mother-in-law often said when asked about her life on the farm.  She would say,"I've been here all my life and these boys (referring to her son and grandsons) are the best crop I ever raised." I'm thinking more like her everyday!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Be Healthy,Get Active,and Make a Difference"

Can you take the pledge "be healthy,get active, and make a difference"?  Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and First Lady Ginger Beebe made that pledge today to show support for Fuel Up to Play 60 in Arkansas schools. The pledge ceremony was also attended by students and faculty from the Weiner school district, four Arkansas dairy farmers,and Midwest Dairy staff.

Fuel Up to Play 60 brings tools and resources to schools to involve students in learning how to make nutritious choices and engage in sixty minutes of activity everyday for long lasting good health. Fuel Up to Play 60 is a direct response to the childhood obesity epidemic we face in Arkansas and across the nation. It is funded by dairy farmers in partnership with the National Dairy Council, the National Football League, and the United States Department of Agriculture. Detailed information about Fuel Up to Play 60 can be found at

As a dairy farmer, I loved listening to the 9th grade student, Joshua Lucero describe with enthusiasm how he got involved with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program as a 7th grader in the Weiner school district.  Although Weiner is a small rural school district, he utilized technology and his computer skills to develop a power point presentation that he and other students shared to spread the word about making healthy choices and getting the needed sixty minutes of exercise everyday.  His teacher told us that he met her in  the parking lot every morning to make sure she accomplished every necessary detail to achieve success in the program. Today was proof that his persistence paid off!

Representing Arkansas dairy farmers at this celebration of support was an awesome experience. Today more than  400,000 students represented in 900 schools across Arkansas are participating in Fuel Up to Play 60.   Dairy farmers are making a difference everyday as we work to produce a healthy product and support programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 to encourage children and adults to "be healthy,get active and make a difference".  Will you take the pledge?