Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

We're finishing 2011 by doing what we've done for the previous 364 days of the year--producing safe,healthy milk by feeding and caring for our animals and land. It's a great privilege to be in the less than 2% of the population that provides food for American consumers and I appreciate your interest in how we work responsibly everyday to produce safe,affordable,and available food. 
                              Thank-you for consuming our dairy products and for reading my blog!
                            From my family to you-- we wish you a  very dairy and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

  On a recent trip to pick up seed at a  Missouri farm store, Ryan and I saw this cute chicken house as we entered the front door and  I remember casually saying that "I  could really raise some chickens in that house!"  I would never have guessed that I would be receiving my own chicken house for Christmas! I'm thankful to know that my  farmer husband does listen to me sometimes and  that I can wait till spring before raising any chickens!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dairymom's Paper Power

With the Christmas gifts unwrapped and most of the holiday festivities passed, this dairymom found herself  in the farm office this afternoon facing a badly neglected pile of work on the desk and stacks of papers to be filed. It has become one of my jobs to be in charge of the "papers". The dairy farm requires a variety of different supplies and services which generates many paper receipts. I'm striving to get everything filed before the end of the year in preparation for the new tax year.  Being in charge of the papers is an unending,thankless job but it is an important organizational task for our family farm just as it is for any business.  The upside to my job is the power that I have when anyone needs a paper!

Dairy farming requires a large investment in land,buildings,equipment and feed for the animals. Many family farms that may include multiple generations are organized as corporations for business tax purposes. Even though the look of the family farm and the technologies have changed, we are still committed to providing safe,high-quality milk by taking good care of our cows and land.

I'm already getting excited about the new box of file folders I'll be opening in just a few days when we celebrate  the New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Purple Pudding--A Family Tradition

Trying to fit all the activities of Christmas Day into the daily routine of the dairy farm is quite a challenge. It doesn't seem to bother anyone in my family when we plan to open gifts or eat Christmas dinner as long as I make preparation to serve favorite family recipes that my mother-in-law prepared for us during the holiday season. Serving those favorite recipes that my mother-in-law always prepared for Christmas or through the year is a sweet and comforting remembrance for all of us and has become an important part of our ongoing family traditions.

Purple Pudding (my mother-in-law's recipe) is a family favorite throughout the year.  I chose to include it as part of our family dinner tradition because it is easy to assemble, can be prepared ahead of the event, and of course, it includes a couple of dairy products!

Purple Pudding

1 can condensed sweetened milk
2 lemons
1/2 pint whipping cream
4 tablespoons black raspberry jam
1 cup nuts (optional)
vanilla wafers

Mix milk with the juice of two lemons,set aside. Whip cream;add jam to whipped cream,mix well. Fold together.

Place vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 9x9 dish. Add pudding mixture; add layer of nuts if desired. Top with vanilla wafers. Chill and serve.

            Hope you have a dairy good week and enjoy time with your family during this holiday season!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old,familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth,good-will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom,
Had roll'd along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth,good-will to men.

And in despair I bow'd my head.
"There is no peace on earth,I said.
For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth,good-will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead,nor doth He sleep:
For hate is strong,and mocks the song
Of peace on earth,good-will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead,nor doth He sleep:
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth,good-will to men!"

Till,ringing,singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth,good-will to men!

Henry W. Longfellow,1807-1882

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Christmas is a great season for all of us  multi-tasking moms to show how efficient we are with the holiday to do list.  Mrs. Reindeer looks like the perfect multi tasking mom!   I'm thankful for the fun and beauty of the holiday season   even when I don't get all the to do's marked off the list. I hope you're enjoying the season!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Day Dairy Breakfast

Christmas Day on the dairy farm always includes feeding the baby calves,milking and feeding the dairy cows and caring for all of our livestock.  Since Christmas is on Sunday this year, the schedule will be even more hectic and require a little more advance meal planning to make sure I get the calves fed, feed the family and get to church on time. The Cheddar and Mushroom Breakfast Squares recipe that I found on the MidwestDairy website will be a great recipe to prepare in advance and serve my family as a special Christmas morning treat before chores and church.

Cheddar and Mushroom Breakfast Square

2 teaspoons butter
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onion,including green tops
6 slices country style bread,cubed
2 cups shredded,reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
2 cups fat-free or low-fat milk
2 cups egg substitute
1 teaspoon red or green hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Spray an 8x8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add mushrooms. Cook mushrooms about 5 minutes or until softened and brown at edges. Stir in green onion; set aside.

Place 1/2 of the bread cubes in prepared baking dish. Scatter 1/2 of the mushroom mixture and 1/2 of the cheese over bread cubes. Layer remaining bread cubes and mushroom mixture; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat milk,egg substitute,pepper sauce and salt, if desired, until well blended. Pour milk mixture over bread cubes and top with the remaining cheese.

Make ahead suggestion: cover dish with foil and refrigerate for 8-10 hours before baking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake,covered for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until top is puffed up and cheese is browned at edges. Let cool for 5 minutes; cut into squares to serve.

                                           A great assortment of dairy recipes can be found at or  Hope you have a very Dairy Christmas!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa's Milk Supply

We're already "makin' a list and checking it twice" on the dairy farm as we prepare for the Christmas holiday schedule next week. Santa is one of our special customers and we must make sure that there is plenty of milk!  Ordering feed for the dairy cows is at the top of the list. Our cows are depending on us to make sure they have plenty of good nutritious feed  so they can produce delicious milk. It would be a little more difficult to buy dairy cow feed for 300 cows on Christmas Eve!

Our cows enjoy a special diet designed by our dairy nutritionist. Each cow on our farm eats one hundred pounds of feed everyday which includes a mixture of grain,hay,and silage. Because all of the grain is brought to the farm by large trailer trucks, making sure that we are on the grain truck's delivery schedule is at the top of our holiday to-do list! We hope that our grain will arrive just before Christmas so that the truck driver can be home with his family during the holiday.

Just like other dairy farm families, we're committed to taking good care of our cows and providing high-quality milk everyday for you and your family. By making sure that we have plenty of feed for the cows during the holidays, Santa will have plenty of milk to enjoy with all those cookies!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Never Fail Fudge for the Non-Candy Maker

Last weekend I made Fantasy Fudge, the recipe from the Kraft Marshmallow creme jar.  It was very good, easy to make and dispapeared quickly at the church party. I was feeling  pretty good about my fudge accomplishment as a non-candy maker until the words from farmer-husband taste tester,"it wasn't quite like Mom made." I've heard that remark before and often take it as a challenge!  As I was looking for recipe ideas for a family Christmas party this weekend, I found the Never Fail Fudge recipe in my mother-in-law's recipe box.

Never Fail Fudge
5 cups sugar
1 can Pet milk
1 stick butter
2 packages chocolate chips
1 jar marshmallow cream
2 pounds or more of pecans or walnuts

Mix sugar,butter and milk; boil together 8 minutes and take from fire. Stir in chocolate chips and marshmallow cream; add nuts. Drop from spoon on waxed paper.

                     I'm sharing the recipe just as written--and I'll see if I can make it "just like Mom"! 

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

For the past couple of months we have been increasing our milking herd with new heifers giving birth to their first calf.  There are no vacancies in the calf hutches! I'm thankful for the fact that we have new baby calves to raise that will eventually be our future milk cows.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Wrapped Hay

It isn't the norm to see a farmer baling hay in December but all things are possible if you have the right kind of grass and the equipment to do the job!  Two years ago we invested in a hay bale wrapper that would allow us to utilize every bit of grass hay that is available on our farm. Typically after a killing frost, hay harvesting is finished in our area.  Fescue grass is the exception and that's what we are happily baling and wrapping. If weather permits and we have no machinery breakdowns--the grass is cut,baled and wrapped in the same day.

Hay stockpiles are extremely low due to spring flooding and summer drought in Northwest Arkansas. Farmers across our area report that hay production tonnage was only half the normal yields and hay feeding began at least two months early because of the limited pasture growth caused by drought conditions. Every bale of hay that we can produce will get us one bale closer to the spring growing season. Hay wrapped just before Christmas is a great gift for any farmer that is feeding beef or dairy cattle this year!

Our beef cows and young dairy cattle love to eat this wrapped hay and we are extremely grateful to increase our winter feed inventory.  In this year of extreme weather conditions, a wrapped hay bale could definitely be on any farmer's Christmas wish list!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tis the Season for Community Service

Several months ago I was asked to participate in a community service project with the Centerton 4-H Club.  Today was the day for the club's activity.  My job was to provide piano Christmas music at a local assisted living facility while 4-H members provided refreshments  and demonstrated how to make a variety of ornaments for each resident.  As I played a selection of Christmas music, the room was a beehive of activity, joyful singing and happy conversation.

When all the ornaments were made and the last cookies served, a few of the young 4-H members gathered around the piano and asked if they could sing a few songs.  Actually, one member told me they had a "group" that wanted to sing.  We started with "O Little Town of Bethlehem" then jumped to "Jingle Bells" and finished with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."  There's nothing sweeter than young voices singing robustly without any inhibitions!

As I hurried home to feed calves,I realized that this activity that started eight years ago as a community service project when my sons were 4-H members has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. Community service is all about giving to others and teaching us how to give of our time and talents.  I can always listen to Christmas music on the radio or play music at home, but there's nothing like sharing it with others in this special season of giving!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

 We had just enough snow yesterday  to cover the ground and make everything on the dairy sparkly white. After listening to the reports of traffic jams and accidents that were happening because of the slick roads, I'm thankful that I can walk across the yard to my calf feeding job  everyday regardless of the weather conditions!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Do You Buy Antibiotic Free Milk?

For the last couple of years, I have been hosting dairy farm tours for University of Arkansas nutrition students. We have had very interesting conversations about how we produce milk and the fact that milk and dairy products are among the most highly regulated foods in this country. Many students state that they buy a particular brand of milk because it states it contains no antibiotics and they feel it is safer than the other brand.  Is this marketing at its best or worst?

Although we sometimes find it necessary to treat cows with antibiotics when they are ill, the milk from those cows is discarded and does not go into the milk supply. Milk from a treated cow will be tested by our dairy cooperative lab and declared antibiotic free before it can be returned to the supply. It is illegal for any dairy farmer to sell milk that might contain antibiotics and we take the responsibility to produce safe milk seriously. Each load of milk is tested for antibiotic on the farm before it is loaded onto the milk transport truck, before it is unloaded at the processing plant and at least two more times before processing occurs.  Strict U.S. government standards ensure that milk is wholesome,safe, and nutritious. More information about dairy food safety  can be found at or

Once our milk leaves the farm for processing we have no say in how it is labeled. In my opinion, milk that is labeled "No Antibiotics" or "Antibiotic Free" is misleading because NO milk is sold with any antibiotic. Marketing is a great tool in any business and consumer choice is important but I think when labeling leads to increasing doubt about the safety of our food it is an injustice to the consumer and the farmer.  What do you think?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Raw Weather Dairy Care

Although we work outside every day in all kinds of weather, when the weather changes from a light jacket day to "can't put enough clothes on" day--that's what we consider, as my grandmother might have said,  a "raw" day.  Today's thirty two degree temperature with wind was a perfect "raw" day in northwest Arkansas! When we scheduled the hoof trimmer for his monthly visit to the farm, we had no idea it would be such a chilly day.  Even though we had several layers of clothes on, the cows actually seemed to enjoy this cooler weather!

Hoof trimming is important to the health of our dairy cows in preventing lameness or correcting problems that create lameness.  On hoof trimming day, the cows walk from the milk barn after being milked to the feed barn into a pen and alley that is connected to the special hoof trimming tilt table that is brought by Ben, our hoof trimmer.  With this special tilt table, Ben is able to secure each cow to keep her safe and comfortable and tilt the table to position the cow for easy access to each hoof.  Ben is like an artist at work as he shapes and trims each cow's hooves with his tools.  Every movement is done with precision and accuracy with the intent to provide cow comfort.

Our commitment to providing high quality milk begins with taking good care of our cows--regardless of the weather!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sweet Friendship Memories

Holidays bring all kinds of special memories.  Many moons ago during my college days, my roommate shared this cookie recipe with me.  Although it's a recipe that can be made any time of the year, I love to bake these rich,buttery cookies at Christmas and savor the memories of a sweet friendship and fun times. 

Mexican Wedding Cookies

1/2 pound butter
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat softened butter. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour and nuts. Shape into balls. Put on greased and floured cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool, roll in powdered sugar.

Yield: 40 (very small)

Now of course, you need a  cold glass of milk or a cup of hot chocolate to make this memory complete!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Benton County Farm Bureau has sponsored the petting zoo at the Benton County Fair for more than fifteen years.  It's a great way to connect with consumers of all ages and share information about agriculture.
Farmers and ranchers across Arkansas are meeting this week in Little Rock for the annual convention. As a delegate to this meeting, we will be voting on issues that are important to farm and ranch families. I'm thankful for Arkansas Farm Bureau and its mission to advocate the interests of agriculture in the public arena,disseminate information concerning the value and importance of agriculture and provide products and services which improve the quality of life for our members.