Monday, September 30, 2013

Celebrate National Farm to School Month

October is a perfect month for fieldtrips and farm tours. The Farm to School Program strives to connect schools to local farms, with the objectives of serving healthy meals in schools, improving student nutrition and  promoting agriculture, health and education opportunities to support local and regional farms.

In case you aren't able to visit a dairy farm this month,  here's a few dairy facts I'd like  to share with you   for National  Farm to School Month:

  • Milk travels from local farm families--to inspection,  processing and pasteurization, to you--in 48 hours or less.

  • There are 51,000 dairy farms in the United States and 98 percent of them are family owned.

  • It only takes 5 to 10 minutes to milk a cow on today's dairy farm.

  • Fresh milk straight from the cow is 101 degrees. Milk is quickly cooled and kept cold at 35-40 degrees F.

  • A single dairy cow yields about 6 to 7 gallons of milk per day.

  • Today's dairy farms produce almost three times more milk than farms of 19--and with about half the number of crops.

  • 90 pounds of feed and hay are consumed by a dairy cow each day.

  • Dairy farming provides 130,000 jobs in the United States.

  • Water used to clean the milking equipment and barn is recycled to irrigate fields to grow crops.

  • Manure is recycled and is used by dairy farmers to fertilize their crops and for many of us to fertilize our gardens.

  •                                             I'll be celebrating with milk--how about you?

    Saturday, September 28, 2013

    Dairymom's Sunset Adventure

    Early in the summer, Ryan cut the hay on an acreage surrounded by subdivisions   at the edge of Centerton, not too far from our farm. Since we're considering renting the pasture for cattle, I was asked if I would like to take a ride on the four wheeler to check fences all around the property. Sunset adventure  rides with a dairy farmer are pretty irresistible!
    It was worth all the adventure --blackberry briar scratches, chigger bites and a few tense moments when I wasn't sure the four wheeler would carry us out of the jungle of weeds above our heads--to see the beauty of an  overgrown Arkansas  meadow in early fall.
    Underneath all these colorful weeds (I call them flowers), is a pasture of carpet thick grass.
    When you compare this year to last year's drought--we are so blessed!
    The earth is the Lord's and all it contains.
    The world, and those who dwell in it.
    ---Psalm 24:1
    Happy Sunday!

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    Silage chopping has a lot of moments of frustration and irritation when dealing with a machine that has so many moving parts that often create mechanical breakdowns.
    I'm thankful for the never give-up attitude of these young farmers and the not so easy lessons learned on the farm about dealing with disappointment and frustrations beyond our control on the dairy farm.

    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

    Celebrate World School Milk Day

     World School Milk Day  is an international, annual event started in 2000 to celebrate the importance of school milk in children's diets and increase global awareness. Students from over forty countries throughout the world will be celebrating World School Milk Day on September 25th.

    Midwest Dairy Council is sponsoring a World School Milk Day Contest to help schools kickoff Fuel Up to Play 60 for the 2013-14 school year.
    All participating Fuel Up to Play 60 schools are eligible to enter the World School Milk Day Contest by October 2nd. You can find contest information at  Midwest Dairy
    Happy World School Milk Day!

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    Moovin' Into Fall

     We've been moovin' into fall for the past week...

                               as we harvested  a field of Bermuda hay for small  square bales to
                                     feed our young calves  and moved it to the barn for storage,
    added new cows to the milking herd and new babies to the calf hutches,
     shared a little  dairy love with young consumers during a farm tour,
    and watched the flowers breathe a sigh of relief  with the rain and cooler temperatures.
    Just signs of the season down on the dairy farm.
    Happy Fall, Ya'll!

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    It isn't hard to love these babies who are in my care for the first three months on the farm.
    I'm thankful that I have been able to utilize my nursing education in raising healthy calves and kids on the farm!

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    Do Cows Have Hormones?

    Like all mammals, cows have hormones.  Cows have a naturally occurring protein hormone produced in the pituitary gland called bovine somatotropin (bST). This hormone regulates metabolic activities and helps young cattle grow and adult cattle to  produce milk. This natural hormone does not have any physiological effect on humans consuming the milk because:
    • bST is species-specific, meaning that it is biologically inactive in humans
    • When milk is consumed, the small amount of bST present is broken down completely by the body's digestive system, just like any other protein.
    • Pasteurization destroys 90% of bST in milk.
    In 1993,  artificial bovine somatotropin hormone (rbST) was developed and after extensive review  approved by the Food and Drug Administration   that could boost milk production and ensure a plentiful supply of milk. 
    While  scientific studies have found no difference between milk from cows that are given the artificial hormone from cows that are not, consumers wanted a choice in how milk is produced. You now find milk labeled with the pledge from dairy farmers that produce milk without using this approved technology tool .
    We support consumer choices but it's important to understand that carton to carton, bottle to bottle, all milk is wholesome, safe and nutritious.

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    Dairy Celebrates Food Safety

    Although September is  recognized as National Food Safety Month, food safety is a priority everyday of the year  on our   dairy farm.  As a Grade A dairy farm, we are licensed by the Arkansas Health Department  to produce milk for bottling or manufactured dairy products by following the    rules and regulations established by the Food and Drug Administration and state regulatory officials by  utilizing  the guidelines of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems.

      These food safety systems make  milk and dairy foods  among the safest and most highly regulated foods in the world:

    -The  Pasteurized Milk Ordinance ( also known as PMO) sets requirements for milk production, milk hauling, pasteurization, product safety, equipment sanitation and labeling.

     Pasteurization has been recognized for more than a century as an essential tool for ensuring that milk and dairy products are safe.

    -The Hazard  Analysis and Critical Control  Point (HACCP) system is used throughout the food industry to help ensure food safety. Dairy processing plants identify critical steps throughout the manufacturing process and establish plans to monitor and minimize any risks. HACCP plans are reviewed, approved and enforced by food safety agencies.

    Thanks to these safety rules, less than 1 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States involve dairy products!

                                                                   Happy Food Safety Month!



    Wednesday, September 11, 2013

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    With everything else in the garden winding down and drying up, I was surprised to receive the biggest sweet potato I've ever seen   from my friend Joe's garden. It appeared that all the potatoes he planted in the same hill had joined forces to produce one massive  heart shaped  sweet potato. There just wasn't any choice but to   bake it ,slice it and bake a little longer in   a combination of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and topped with marshmallows for all the 'big' kids in the family.
    I'm thankful that Joe is so generous with his produce and for the fact that he gardens just down the road in my in-laws old garden spot that has produced a garden of memories for my family down on the dairy  farm.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    #AWBU Foodie Farmer

    You don't hear too many farmers refer to themselves as a Foodie, but after this year's Foodie Friday event at the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference located at Ferncliff  Camp outside of Little Rock, I'm thinking I'm a Foodie Farmer.

     If you look up the definition of what a foodie is, you will find a variety of definitions.  I don't fit the definition  of gourmet foodie but I do have a special interest in food and nutrition.  I also  appreciate the special talents of those who can present beautiful, tasteful food. As a dairy farmer, I'm an everyday Farmer  Foodie--working to provide a safe, steady supply of dairy products.

    At the end of an afternoon of Foodie workshops that brought new and interesting information about food, nutrition and blogging, our Foodie talents were put to the test.  Seven teams of women competed in presenting a food creation with a variety of fresh  ingredients, no recipe, no knowledge of what skills each woman brought to the team and limited working facilities. Our creations were judged by a respected team of judges that enjoyed watching the madness of our preparation.

    Our creation was a hot Cuban Slider made with Petit Jean ham and bacon and a unique
     Mango/Pineapple Salsa. It was   awesome tasting but we didn't win the contest! However, I think I can master this at home, if I can remember what the recipe was that happened in just a matter of minutes.
    I did learn a lot about creativity, had a lot of fun and met some really talented Arkansas Women Blogger Foodies.
    I'm already looking forward to next year's competition!

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Dairymom's Thankful Thursday

    During last year's drought, we were praying for rain and  irrigating this Bermuda grass field located close to our dairy barn lagoon.
    I'm thankful for every drop of rain, the perfect amount of sunshine and my family of farmers that enjoy working hard to harvest this  feed for our dairy  cows!

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Labor Day Dairy Fun

    I really can't imagine Labor Day without labor on the dairy farm and   our cows and calves expect it!  It might not make any sense, but you can find fun in labor.

                           If you asked me if I did anything fun on Labor Day, here's what I would say...

              I climbed into the dirty, dusty seat of the old ten-wheel silage truck to sit next to my honey so I could ride while he green chopped a load of feed for the milking cows. Riding in the truck or tractor always reminds me of our many 'dates' spent on a tractor or doing chores.

     One of our daily chores for the last couple of weeks is to 'green chop'  Sudan grass to add to the  cows feed ration.  I'm sure the cows would describe it as high protein, high energy nutritious candy!

    Even though we weren't racing, it was fun to see Cody pull the chopper up close to the truck to start down the row, blowing the chopped grass into the truck. It's obvious  he gets a lot of joy and fun from  trying to scare his mother with his driving.
                                                I  admired the crop through the dirty windshield

    and most of all  felt thankful for a green chop crop that our cows will enjoy!
    After last year's drought and no crop...labor is a good thing.