Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February Sweethearts: I Love Pie

February started yesterday when I came home with my bag of candy conversation hearts for the candy dish. Those cute pastel hearts (Sweethearts)with the whimsical phrases remind me of my childhood days with school Valentine parties, trading valentine cards with classmates and of course, eating those candy hearts!

I do enjoy the month of February for the opportunities to share a little love with family and friends with sweet treats from the kitchen.  One of our family favorites is chocolate cream pie from my old well used Better Homes and Garden Cook Book.

Chocolate Cream Pie
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter
2 cups milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon butter
1 teapoon vanilla
1 9-inch baked pastry shell
    Meringue(3egg whites) or Whipped Cream

In saucepan, combine sugar,cornstarch,cocoa and butter;gradually stir in milk.   Cook and stir over medium heat till bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir small amount hot mixture into yolks; immediately return to hot mixture; cook 2 minutes,stirring constantly.Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Pour into cooled baked pastry shell. Spread meringue atop pie and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool.
 Or, omit meringue and serve with whipped cream.

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
Beat egg whites,vanilla, and cream of tartar till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until glossy peaks form and all sugar is dissolved. Spread meringue over hot filling,sealing to edge of pastry. Bake as directed above.

                                                                Happy February!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Healthy Resolution Review

I'm almost sad to see January end since we've had such nice weather!  Today was a beautiful  light jacket day on the dairy farm.  On my short,brisk walk to the dairy barn after we fed baby calves this afternoon, I was enjoying the late afternoon sunshine as much as this group of calves that were watching me as I passed by.  While walking home, I was thinking about two of the resolutions I made for the New Year to improve my diet and exercise more.

One of my healthy choices for improving my diet is to drink low fat milk, also known as 1% milk.  When comparing low fat and whole milk, low fat milk has:
  • same calcium
  • same protein
  • same minerals and vitamins
  • less fat
  • fewer calories
If you're considering changing to low fat milk, here are steps suggested by the National Dairy Council:
  1. Switch between whole and 2%
  2. Stick with 2% if you like it, or switch between 2% and 1%.
  3. Stick with 1% if you like it, or switch between 1% and fat free.
You can find ways to use milk and low fat milk and great recipes at http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/ or http://www.midwestdairy.com/.  By the end of January many people have given up on their resolutions.  I'm not a complete failure but I have plenty of work to do for the next eleven months!  How about you?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

                   I'm not sure who has the most fun  learning about dairy--me,the students or their teacher! 
Agriculture in the Classroom activities teach children where their food comes from in a factual fun  way.  I'm thankful for teachers who have a heart for children, share enthusiasm for learning  and value teaching students about agriculture.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rain Ready

Just in case the weather man is right and it starts to rain tonight as predicted, we've been getting rain ready by loading, hauling and applying cow manure from the liquid and dry manure storage areas  to  cropland and pastures today.  Since 1985 our farm has been permitted by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality allowing us to build holding areas for both liquid and dry manure and to follow a nutrient management plan that determines how to utilize the manure on our farm. 

Land applying liquid or dry manure on rainy days is a no-no due to the possibility of runoff pollution.  Because we live and work on our farm, we take our responsibility to protect the land and water seriously by carefully using best management practices that are outlined in our farm plan and by following the rules and regulations of the permit.  Caring for the environment protects the health of my family, our cows and the environment.

Manure is a natural nutrient that builds the soil, increases the water holding capacity of the soil and also fertilizes.  Utilizing  every bit of natural manure nutrient will help save money by decreasing the need to purchase more commercial fertilizer.  Now that's a dairy deal-- an all in one economic product naturally from the cow and rain ready!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Art with a Purpose

What can you make with a gazillion small pieces of colored tissue paper cut into little one inch squares? Flowers,of course!  That's exactly what the students at Decatur Northside Elementary were making in art class today after a lesson about the famous artist  Georgia  O'Keefe. Early this month, the Benton County Farm Bureau Women's Committee purchased art supplies for this school.   I was invited  today by Mrs. Raymond, the art teacher, to see the supplies we donated and receive thank-you notes from the students.

Mrs. Raymond teaches all the art classes for students in the rural Decatur school system. With a limited budget for art supplies, she was very appreciative of the donation for her elementary students. Students will have plenty of markers,paper,modeling clay and even a crayon melting machine to recycle bits and pieces of crayons. It is our hope that by furnishing more art supplies that the students will benefit academically by enhancing their opportunity for more creativity.

Seventy plus years ago the first Farm Bureau Women's Committee in Arkansas was formed to make a difference in the rural communities. I'm proud to be working for that same purpose today as a member of the Benton County Farm Bureau Women's Committee!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby!

Happy Birthday Baby! We woke up Saturday morning to find the arrival of a new baby calf in the pasture.  We try to avoid having  dairy calves in the coldest months but we always manage to have a few new babies scattered through out the year.  As mild as our January weather has been this year, it's too bad we weren't  having alot more birthdays!

This baby calf stayed with his mother for about twelve hours in the pasture before being moved to the calf raising area.  Calves are separated from their mothers to ensure the best individual care and monitoring. Each of our calves is placed in an individual hutch and fed twice daily. Our babies are bottle fed for three days with the colostrum milk from their mother and then taught to drink from a bucket.  Grain is added to their diet when they start drinking from the bucket. I'm their momma for the next eight to ten weeks before they will be moved to a small pasture.

Experiencing new life on the  dairy farm is always a blessing and a reminder to me of the commitment we have to provide high-quality milk by taking good care of our calves and cows.  I think we may name this baby--January! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Early last fall Ryan found two little orphan kittens in the feed barn hiding between hay bales. The enclosed front porch of our house became home to Blackie and Fuzzy  until this past Sunday when I took them to their new home in the haybarn at Cody's house. Even though I moved them from the house, I'm thankful  for the fun I've had watching these cute curious  kittens grow into being  part of the farm family.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wednesday's One-Dish Meal

Christmas in January is what we're celebrating tomorrow night when my church friends (my sons call us the "Blue Hairs") gather at my house for supper and Bible study. We usually just have dessert but since we canceled our annual potluck Christmas dinner in December, I'm hosting and preparing the main dish tonight. I find that I enjoy making Chicken Tetrazzini for my family or guests because it is simple,can be prepared in advance, and is a great dish to share with others.  It is also an easy recipe that can be prepared and frozen.

Chicken Tetrazzini

12 oz spaghetti,uncooked
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
5 Tablespoons water
1 cup + 3 Tablespoons sharp cheddar cheese,shredded
1/2 to 3/4 cup pepper-jack cheese, shredded
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite size pieces

Cook spaghetti until tender,drain and mix with one tablespoon melted butter.
Place spaghetti in bottom of greased 13x9 inch baking pan. In skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter; add soup and water. Stir until smooth. Reserve 3 tablespoons cheddar cheese. Add all other cheese into soup and cook over low heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Fold in chicken. Pour soup and chicken mixture over spaghetti; sprinke with reserved cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.

                  When I add a tossed green salad and homemade rolls--I'll call this the Blue Hair Special!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Truck Lovin' Dairy Farmer

Because we depend on our farm trucks every day to assist us in caring for our  dairy cattle and land, we tend to have special relationships with our trucks. The first truck I remember when I started dating the dairy farmer was "Brownie". She was a brown,flat bed Ford truck equipped with big tires that made her very tall and a good mud slinger, a large muffler with deafening noise on acceleration, a radio that played only country music and some type of hay spear on the back. In the beginning of my farming experience, when Brownie's name was mentioned, I thought there was another woman on the farm!

As I watched my son,Cody, feeding hay to the  dairy cows in the dry pasture, I thought about the efficiency of hay feeding with the truck and the importance of this farmer tool to our work on the farm. With the special hay feeding Deweze bed on our truck, two large round bales of hay can be picked up and brought to the pasture for the cattle. One farmer can efficiently feed alot of cattle in one day with this special hay feeding equipment.

Brownie is long gone from the farm but now that I've been on the  dairy farm for twenty seven years, I understand and appreciate the farmer's special relationship with his truck. From daylight to dusk, the truck is considered a member of the farm family--always ready and waiting to assist the farmer in caring for the cattle and land.  I can't imagine a day without our farm truck or the truck lovin' dairy farmer!

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Do You Learn from Selling Girl Scout Cookies?

The announcement on the radio about the arrival of Girl Scout Cookies  in our community brought a smile on my face and a flood of memories of my own Girl Scout experience. Troop 150 formed when we were in the second grade.  Our Troop leaders mentored us from the second grade until we graduated in 1973. I cherish the memories of our Girl Scout years and I'm grateful for the many lessons we were taught about making our world a better place by caring for each other and our community.  Here are the Girl Scout Laws as we knew them in 1963:
  1. A Girl Scout's honor is to be trusted.
  2. A Girl Scout is loyal.
  3. A Girl Scout's duty is to be useful and to help others.
  4. A Girl Scout is a friend to all and a sister to every other Girl Scout.
  5. A Girl Scout is courteous.
  6. A Girl Scout is a friend to animals.
  7. A Girl Scout obeys orders.
  8. A Girl Scout is cheerful.
  9. A Girl Scout is thrifty.
  10. A Girl Scout is clean in thought,word, and deed.
Money made from cookie sales is used to support troop activiites. Even though it's been forty years since I sold my last box of Girl Scout cookies, the skills that I learned are still part of my daily life on the dairy farm--goal setting,decision making,money management, people skills, and business ethics.
You can find more information about Girl Scouts at http://www.girlscouts.org/.

I hope you'll join me in supporting the Girl Scouts this year by buying cookies. I'll be having milk with my cookies.  How about you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Today I met with a group of  dairy friends to plan events for the Four State Dairy Days  that is held in our county during June Dairy Month.  I'm thankful for all the 4-H leaders and dairy friends that have worked together for many years  to promote dairy, provide a fun educational experience for kids and the great family memories made at Dairy Days.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rural Meets Urban On the Farm

Rural met urban tonight at a Benton County Quorum Court meeting. It's neither the first nor the last time for situations to occur in our rapidly growing county that will have a great impact on our agricultural community. Tonight's issue is the small farming community of Hiwassee fighting against the proposed annexation of their community into the larger city of Bella Vista.  This annexation would take in approximately 6000 acres of agricultural land.

As I listened to a member of our Benton County Farm Bureau Board present reasons we oppose this annexation for this agricultural community, I thought about the rich agricultural history of Benton County. In the 1920's, we  were listed as the number one apple growing county in the nation. When the apple industry declined, the poultry industry began with a farmwife raising a backyard chicken. Today Benton County is second in the state in poultry production and Arkansas ranks second nationally in poultry production.

More than 100 farm families make their living from raising poultry and cattle in this proposed area of annexation. After reviewing the proposed annexation, Arkansas Farm Bureau states that it believes the new regulations placed on this small agricultural community by the city would be detrimental and quite possibly devastating to their ability to maintain or expand their current farm while potentially decreasing the value of their land. Landowners and farmers will also be faced with additional costs to improve their land because of a more restrictive and expensive permitting process.

It's my hope that the citizens of Bella Vista will consider the importance of this agricultural community to our county and the long range plan of food production for our nation. The question  for all of us--rural and urban--where will our food be produced?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Food and Drug Safety

Even though we've been having the most beautiful,not too cold January weather, we have had a couple of calves become very sick with pneumonia in the last few days. Young calves require daily consistent monitoring because they are susceptible to respiratory illness when we have erratic or unusual shifts in temperatures or changes in humidity.

Our commitment to providing high-quality milk begins with taking good care of each dairy calf that is born and raised on our farm.  Each dairy heifer calf is a future milk producing cow on our farm.  As each animal grows and matures, we are providing a nutritious diet,good medical care and healthy conditions.When a calf  develops a respiratory illness, we treat them with an  antibiotic that is prescribed by our veterinarian. The list of medications that are approved for use in food animals is provided by the Food and Drug Administration.  Every drug has its own particular dosage rates,  number of treatment days  and specific instructions for its use. We follow directions for treating a calf  with an antibiotic just as you would treat  your self or your child.

I'm very grateful for the science that provides medications to treat illness in humans and animals.  I can't imagine living in the days of no penicillin or aspirin!  On the farm, we count on using sound science and best management practices in providing the safest,most affordable food for consumers. Responsible use of any medication used for treating illness in food animals is an important key to providing safe food.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Razorback Dairy Snack

Today's the big game all Razorback fans have been waiting for--Arkansas at the Cotton Bowl!  Even if you aren't sharing the Arkansas excitement, you might still enjoy a nutritious dip recipe for your next party.  Thanks to Missouri Dairymom Shannon Squibb for sharing her family's  favorite  snack recipe.

Cashew Chicken Dip 

1 1/2 cups Greek style plain nonfat yogurt
1 (12.5 oz)can white chicken,packed in water
     (97%f fat free),drained
1 cup water chestnuts,chopped
1/2 cup roasted and unsalted cashews,chopped
4 green onion,chopped(about1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons soy sauce,low sodium


In a decorative bowl, mix together all ingredients,saving 2 tablespoons of cashews and 1 tablespoon of green onions. Top with remaining cashews and green onions for garnish. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with raw vegetables (like carrot sticks,cucumber slices,pea pods and red pepper slices) or whole wheat crackers.

You can find other delicious and nutritious recipes at http://www.dairymakessense.com/.

                                                               Go Hogs Go!!!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

Last June these unique Egyptian Geese were born on our farm.

  Just a few days ago, I found the young geese perched on one of the cattle shades in the pasture with the dairy cows. Caring for the land,air and water is a responsibility dairy farmers take seriously because we live and work on our farm and strive to preserve the land for the next generation.   I'm thankful that our dairy farm provides a natural habitat for a variety of birds and wildlife for all of us to enjoy.

Power Snacking with Dairy

Snacking has become a way of life in our multi-tasking world.  According to statistics reported by the National Dairy Council, snacks,on average, contribute 24% of our daily caloric intake.  That's about 421 calories per day for the average woman! For me,personally, that would be about one third of my daily calorie intake.  Including snacks in our daily diet plan is not  a bad habit if we are choosing nutrient dense foods. Snacks can provide energy and can be selected to increase intake of essential cravings, take the edge off hunger and prevent overeating at meals. Healthy snacks can help power you through the day!

To improve my daily diet plan and make every calorie count, I'll be including nutrient dense foods on my snack list.  Nutrient dense foods are  foods that provide substantial amounts of  vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories.  The National Dairy Council offers these tips for Smart Snacking:
  • Choose a variety of nutrient-dense snacks from the MyPlate food groups--fruits,vegetables,grains,protein,and low-fat and fat-free dairy
  • Limit intake of foods high in solid fats,added sugars and salt
  • Make snacks count toward food group servings
  • Keep your daily calorie limit in mind when choosing snacks
  • Pay attention to serving sizes and avoid oversized portions of snacks
  • Plan ahead. Pack grab and go healthy snacks such as fruit,vegetables,nuts,whole grain crackers and cheese for your lunchbox,backpack or briefcase, and have perishable snacks such as milk and yogurt for at home snacks
  • Avoid mindless snacking on nutrient poor foods and beverages (i.e.,eating or drinking  while doing something else such as watching TV)
A wealth of information  about healthy snacks,nutrition and great recipes  can be found at http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/ or http://www.midwestdairy.com/.  Power snacking with dairy can be a strategy to help meet the recommended  three daily servings of dairy and the nutrients provided by dairy.
                                                             Happy Power Snacking!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nutrition Tips for 2012

While packing up the Christmas tree and decorations and thinking about the possibilities of the New Year, I decided that health would be at the top of my personal improvement list.  We work diligently everyday on the dairy farm to make sure that our dairy cows are provided with a nutritious and balanced diet to produce high quality milk, so why would I not strive to improve my own personal  nutritional health habits?

In the past few months, the USDA has provided a new nutrition guide called MyPlate. The Choose My Plate tip sheet can help guide food choices for a healthy lifestyle by balancing calories, choosing foods to eat more often and to cut back on foods to eat less often. You can find more detailed  nutrition  information  at  http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.

10 Tips to a Great Plate
  1. Balance calories
  2. Enjoy your food,but eat less
  3. Avoid oversized portions
  4. Foods to eat more often: vegetables,fruits,whole grains,fat-free or 1%milk or dairy products
  5. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  6. Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
  7. Make half your grains whole grains
  8. Foods to eat less often: foods high in solid fats,added sugars and salt
  9. Compare sodium in foods
  10. Drink water instead of sugary drinks

                             I'm already getting started on my 2012  improvement plan.  How about you?