Friday, November 26, 2010

A Dairy Thanksgiving

It's the day after Thanksgiving and people flocked to the sales early this morning.  Well, not everyone got excited about Black Friday.  As a dairy farmer, I was up early enough to hit the sales, but cows took priority and their comfort came before crowded malls with "fantastic" sales.  I have several friends and family who make the annual trek to the big sales that start at midnight and go on until late afternoon.  Black Friday started with several black & white cows and calves that required tending, so the sales went on without me (not that I was missed). 

Here in the Ozarks, we awoke to a mixture of cold rain, sleet and snow Thanksgiving morning.  Needles to say, we didn't have ideal conditions for a family get-together.  We did manage to get chores done without too many problems and I was able to get everything cooked for our big meal.  Our milk hauler even timed his arrival for a hot-out-of-the-oven cinnamon roll that morning.  Sure we didn't get around as fast as we normally do, but we did get chores taken care of.  

Despite all of the challenges, we made it to my in-laws a little early and had a wonderful meal with our family.  Even after all of the grumbling about the nasty weather, we had an amazing sunset.  It just goes to prove that no matter how bad we think things seem at the time, there is something good that comes from it.  As we admired the beauty of the end of the day, I started thinking of all of my blessings and reasons I had to be family, friends, freedom and not having to fight the crowds at the mall.          

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Never say Never...

Going to the grocery store can sometimes be an adventure.  I'd put off my trip as long as I could and found it necessary to go; no more putting it off...the list was getting pretty long.  More often than not when I'm at the store, I run into someone I know and we catch up on what's been going on in our lives.  As fate would have it, I ran into my high school Ag instructor and his wife.  They are probably two of the nicest people you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting; I can say this without someone accusing me of sucking up for a good grade - I've been out of high school a long time.  Some of my favorite high school memories include them.

On about isle 6 or 7, Mr. H stopped me and asked, "I was just wondering, was it you or your sister that didn't want anything to do with the computer when you were in high school?  You remember when we got that brand new one in the Ag room?  Didn't one of you say "I don't want anything to do with that thing?"'.  (This might be a good time to mention that we keep up with each other on Facebook)


Yep, that was me.  I even dropped typing in high school because I didn't think I'd ever need it - plus the fact that the typing teacher took points away from me for crossing my feet under my chair.  I didn't take computer class because I was sure I'd never need that either.  Did I say never?  What was I thinking?  Times have changed so much that both of my boys have had computer literacy & it's required. 

Never in a million years would you have convinced me 20+ years ago that I'd own a computer and need to know how to type.  If you would have said I'd be logging onto the Internet on a regular basis, have a phone that would let me check email and send information, well I'm sure I would have thought you'd lost your mind.   Computers were just catching on when I was in high school and now almost everyone owns one.  When we bought our first computer, I had to ask my then-4th grader to help me get some of it set up.  I didn't even bother to try to set up the gadgets to the last television, I just handed everything over to the boys; same thing when I wanted a ring tone on my last cell phone (a task I've now overcome).  It's not new news in our house that mom is technologically challenged...but I'm getting better.

The computer is an important tool for me these days.  I use it for so many different things on the farm,  promoting dairy, correspondence for our county Farm Bureau, keeping up with friends, tweeting, facebooking, and of course, blogging.  Some days are more of a challenge than others with the computer...especially when I'm having problems with the phone line (yes, we're still on dial-up).

My best advice to you:  Be very careful when you tell someone you're never going to do/use something.  It'll come back to bite you!  I once told my dad (after I graduated high school) that I never wanted to milk cows again...and now I milk cows for a living.  Never say never.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dairy Moms Blogging in Iowa

It doesn't seem like a week and a half has already gone by, but it has.  That's how long it's been since I went to the I_Blog Conference in Perry, Iowa.  Most of my friends and family smiled politely or asked what I was talking about when I told them I was going.  Truth be told, most of them aren't quite sure what a blog is.  I did try to explain, but I'm not sure all of them understood.

I made some new friends and got to see some old ones.  I came home with some refreshing ideas and was ready to start blogging.  Everything was going great; I even sat down and blogged about what went on here at home while I was gone..and then my computer refused to sign on to the internet...for a week.  There aren't that many things that frustrate me to the point of complete anger, but this little problem pushed a few buttons that I wasn't aware I had.  At one point, I was even thinking of running over the computer in the driveway with a tractor and field roller; thankfully it didn't come to that. 

Another thought that crossed my mind (several times), was just getting in the truck and driving back to Perry, Iowa.  Staying in the Hotel Pattee was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable stays that I've had in a very long time.  I really can't say enough nice things about the place!  I rarely travel that direction, but if I'm ever near there again, you can bet that's where I'll stay.  The hotel has 40 unique rooms, with each decorated differently in honor of someone or something that relates to the history of the town.  You can see what a neat place it is at .  I will say that the pictures don't capture the true beauty of each room.

Karen Bohnert, Susan Anglin & Shannon Squibb 
Dairymom's serving up smoothies!
 I had such a nice stay that I almost forgot that I was there on business!  There were two other dairymoms (and some of the wonderful staff from Midwest Dairy) in attendance.  We made smoothies for everyone during the afternoon break on Saturday.  You can find several great recipes at along with the Blues Buster Smoothie we made.

If you feel the need to treat yourself, have a smoothie or get away for a few days in Iowa.  I'll be at the Hotel Pattee if I can ever manage to get away...but I'll probably just have a smoothie and call it a day for now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

While Mom was out of town...

I was lucky enough to be able to go out of town for the I_Blog Conference this past weekend.  I had a great time, learned some new things, spent time with old friends, met new friends and stayed at the most amazing hotel (which I'll write about another time).  As a dairy farmer and mom, it was wonderful to get away for a few days and not have to get up to milk.  

Another dairy mom and I managed to get to our destination without any glitches.  Maybe the two GPS systems and the map quest directions helped a little.  The conference sessions were very informative and I was absorbing new information the best I could.  Saturday morning came and I got my regular time that I would at home; in time to milk.  I tried not to think much about it and decided I'd get to bed early that night.  Then I noticed I had a call from home around noon - usually not a good sign.

To save everyone from reading a long, drawn-out post, allow me to summarize what happened while I was out of town...for less than 24 hours:

One our cows calved; one of the automatic waterers was acting up; the heater in the milk barn wasn't working; all of which would have been fine, if all else had gone according to planned.  While getting parts, hubby took the boys with him and he went into the hardware store alone.  When he came out of the hardware, the boys were gone.  (Please keep in mind they are 19 & 13 years old)  They'd wandered over to the pawn shop where our oldest decided he really should get his own rifle.  It's okay, we live in the country, hunting is a normal thing where we live and he's old enough to decide how to spend his own money.  (After I tell myself this over & over, I may accept it)  But we aren't to the fun part yet.

While hubby was working on the heater in the barn, one of the boys came in to inform him that the dogs had found something under the compressor unit outside.  He told them to leave it alone and for pity's sake, be sure to put Mom's dog back in the house - remember that part.

Interesting fact you may not know:  If you toss a lit smoke bomb in an enclosed area, you might just flush out a very angry skunk.  Angry skunks usually come out spraying and dogs that are barking at them are usually the first target, who will in turn run to the nearest person for help to get the smell off.  Even if that person is in a closed barn working on a heater.  Oh, and skunks don't care if it's the outside or Mom's inside dog.

Yep, it happened.  I had to tell hubby over the phone where to find the skunk "recipe".  I've included it just in case you might need it someday.  For your sake, I hope you don't.  By the time the boys "flushed" the skunk out for the second time, he was multi-colored from the smoke bombs and I don't think he's coming back.

I finished the conference, made it back home with only one missed flight (due to mechanical problems) and even with my luggage after a change of flights.  (I'm really sorry about scaring that lady at the airport baggage claim when I shouted with happiness when my bag actually showed up)

The only down side is that I need to bathe the dog again.  Soak, that's the one thing they didn't quite get right, you gotta let it soak.  Of course hubby says I'm not leaving him home with the kids ever again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween School Parties & Farm Kid Costumes

Princess, hero and...cow?
Halloween parties at school have now become Fall parties where we live.  Our elementary age kids are still allowed to dress up in costume and parade through school for everyone to see.  This is an annual tradition for the kids, just as much as organizing the party is for the parents.  I've always tried to do my part and can't count how many cheese trays, gallons of chocolate milk and other treats I've hauled into the classroom for the kids over the years.  Like most other Mom's, I did it because I wanted to and enjoyed alomost every minute.  Unfortunately, my boys have now grown out of the elementary tradition.  The parties will always be great memories for me with the exception of arguing over costume ideas.

The only kid dressed as a cow.

Costumes always brought about the biggest delimma.  My idea of a great costume didn't always agree with my kids.  Go figure.  Farm kids are just like all other kids and want to be something or someone really cool on Halloween.  My boys have been a country singer (with guitar), a fireman, batman, farmers (one even with an inflatable tractor), football players, and one year my greatest challenge...a cow.  What started out as a great idea for both Mom kid ended in doubt for my son.  The closer to the big day, the greater his doubts about wearing an inflatable cow costume became.  In the end, Mom won (sort of) and kiddo wore the costume.  I have pictures to prove it.  What I don't have pictures of, is me in my cow costume.  Yep, Mom had to wear one too.  Ah, the things we do for our kids.  I'm sure another mom snapped a picture of me in my full cow glory, but I haven't tried too hard to find it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quality Time & New Hats

How many people can say they wish they could have more quality time with their spouse?  I'm one of the few who can say that I spend a lot of time with my husband.  We work together almost everyday (except the few days I work at the vet clinic) so we spend more time together than apart.  It's a good thing we get along so well.

Today I got to go on a "parts run" (or go after a parts for a piece of machinery).  This meant we would spend over 2 hours in a vehicle without kids and spotty cell phone service.  I have to admit I caught myself thinking about the things I needed to get done in the house...laundry, dishes, vacuuming, ironing, etc.  On the other hand, it was pretty nice to have some company since I usually end up going on errands by myself.  All in all, it was a good trip.

Farm supply stores, machinery dealers, feed stores and the like usually give hats to regular customers.  It's a great way to advertise because what farmer doesn't wear a hat?  Hubby was in need of a new hat, so he asked if they had any.  I was really surprised when the wonderful lady brought one out for me too.  This doesn't happen very often and I usually get swindled out of mine when I get home.  I'm pretty sure that won't happen this's pink, really pink.  So "Thank You" to the awesome gal at the parts counter and  I'll take all the quality time I can get.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's your Uniform?

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a group in Kansas City.  To some that doesn't sound like any big deal, but for me it was.  It's not every day that a dairy farmer gets to speak to a group of professionals about dairy farming and social media.  Fortunately for me, downtown traffic wasn't too bad, my GPS knew where I needed to turn and it was a wonderful group (thank you PRSA).

I spent the majority of my day "out of uniform".  Instead of jeans, t-shirt/sweatshirt and barn boots, I donned a more professional look.  Some were surprised to find out that I was a dairy farmer.  The same thing has happened on other occasions when my husband and I go somewhere and "dress up" or when I wear scrubs at the vet clinic.  Just about every job has a uniform or dress code and when I see someone out of "uniform", it sometimes takes me a minute to remember where I know them from.  After a long day yesterday, I will say that I didn't mind changing into my chore clothes when I got home in time to help milk the cows.

The next time you meet someone, don't just assume you know what they do for a living just by the way they dress.  You might just be surprised.  On the other hand, after the luncheon was over yesterday I don't think anyone would have had too much trouble figuring out which vehicle was mine in the parking was the only farm truck there.  I guess some things are just obvious.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Take 5...or more

Early morning view from my back door.
Ask anyone how they are and you normally get a response of "fine", "okay" or something similar.  Lately it seems everyone is "busy".  We all seem to be running from one meeting or event to the next without a break.  When was the last time you took 5 minutes to enjoy yourself, spend with your child, loved one or best friend?  Maybe 5 minutes isn't enough time and you should consider more than that.

Just 5 minutes later...

I was cleaning the kitchen this morning and glanced out the window at the cows grazing in the pasture.  The fog and sun rising made a fairly pretty scene, so I snapped a quick picture.  The dogs barked at something a few minutes later so I looked outside and noticed the cows were still grazing, but the sunlight and fog gave a completely different picture.  Then just 5 minutes later, the fog had really moved in and one could hardly see the cows.  So much can change in just 5 minutes.  Take 5 (or more) for yourself, a loved one, a friend you've been meaning to call and you might just make their day. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

School Lunch & Milk

Apparently today is World School Milk Day.  I had never heard of this, but then again there seems to be something to celebrate or acknowledge every day.  So why should we have a day to honor milk in school?  A few years ago I probably wouldn't have thought too much about it.  Lately, I've thought about milk in our schools quite a bit.

Due to the overweight children in the United States, we, as a society, have become more aware of what our children eat and do.  There's been numerous studies about how our kids aren't eating healthy and/or getting enough exercise.  There are also groups who would like to see chocolate milk removed from our school breakfast and lunch programs because they believe that would be a good way to remove sugar from the diet. 

I asked several kids of various ages what they drank for lunch at school and almost everyone responded: milk...chocolate milk to be exact.  So I asked them if they could only get plain milk, would they drink it?  Most said they'd probably get a juice from the machine in the hall or skip a drink all together.  I've checked the label on that "juice" and it has more sugar per bottle than the chocolate milk.

I asked several moms I know if they thought chocolate milk should be removed.  Every single mom thought it was crazy to take it away.  They felt it was one of the only items they could count on being nutritious - it is milk after all.  Added sugar didn't seem to bother them as much as some of the items on the lunch menu that were offered.  The high school offers choices; the kids can get a corn dog, burger, slice of pizza, etc. every day if they want.  The lower grades often have similar items more than once a week with a vegetable such as corn or peas...that go uneaten more often than not.

Perhaps the schools would do better by signing up for the Fuel Up to Play 60 program (details at ).  I'll be the first to admit that I'm no nutritionist and I don't hold a degree that gives me the right to tell others the proper way to determine what's best for their diet.  I am however a mom and I think I know what's best for my kids.  As for me and the other mom's I spoke with, we'd just like to go on record and say: "Leave the chocolate milk in the schools!" 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Calves, Clover...& Baseball?

Living on a farm can be very hectic & time consuming.  Every now and then, chores get done on time without any major complications.  Tonight was one of those nights.  We'd just finished milking and I noticed our youngest son had brought a couple of baseballs and a bat outside, so I offered to pitch a few to him.  Before long, the whole family was in on the fun.  Then a ball went out into the field.

It didn't take me long to realize we were playing "Extreme Farm Baseball".  This isn't a new game, it's just one you don't see played too often.  A game of catch with some batting practice turned wild.  There's not any rules, but there's a few obstacles: 
1) A farm dog who loves to play catch - you need find the ball before he does. 
2) Find the ball before the nosy 500 pound calves get to you. 
3) Hope that when it's your turn to get the ball, it hasn't landed/rolled into something really green. 
4) Hope that the ball doesn't land in the fence row that has poison ivy growing in it.
5) Learn to catch with your hat (because someone forgot the gloves)

 Okay, so the list can go on and on.  This "game" has been played for years under many different circumstances with other obstacles.  On the plus side, I found a lucky 4-leaf clover and made me realize how lucky I was to be able to spend this time with my family.  It was just good old fashioned fun on the farm and I'll keep this memory tucked away for when the boys have grown.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Just" a Farmer? Um, no.

I recently returned to my old job after being gone for 10 1/2 years.  My, how things had changed.  I'm slowly getting back into the routine at the veterinary clinic, which is taking longer since I'm just working part-time.  The most common question from clients and sales representatives is what have I been up to for the last 10+ years.  My immediate response: milking cows.  Some people can appreciate that as a condensed answer, while others just don't quite get the full meaning.

There isn't an easy way to explain the things that a farmer does on a daily basis.  Running a dairy farm is a little more complicated than just milking cows twice a day.  A farm, dairy or not, is a business as well as our home.  We have many different jobs that may or may not need done every day.  Sure, we do the milking and care for the animals every day, but other chores can change daily, weekly, or even seasonally.  Some days you might be the plumber, electrician, mechanic, doctor, errand person (me mostly), nutritionist, and the list could go on and on.

My favorite thing to "shock" people with is social media.  Most people don't associate farmers with social media, but we're out here.  There's an ever growing community of agriculture folks that hit the social media world by storm every day.  Most of us just want to help educate others about where their food, shelter and fiber comes from.  How many people can say they've "attended" a Twitter party while milking cows?  I did tonight (although it wasn't something I'd recommend on a regular basis).  You can find us blogging, tweeting and on facebook (and some do play Farmville) every day.  So the next time you picture a farmer, try to look beyond the stereo type (overalls & straw hat) and remember that we're not "just" farmers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fall Frenzy

I can always tell when school starts.  The calendar starts filling up, annual meeting notices show up in the mailbox, the State Fair comes and goes in a blur, and everyone starts murmuring, "What happened to summer?".  So here we are in September and there are Christmas decorations two isles down from the Halloween stuff.  Yep, it's happened...the Fall Frenzy is upon us.

We've already had a few cows freshen in and I'm sure the calf barn will be full within the next month.  Hubby has started cleaning machinery to be put away for winter.  A hay tally has been made and phone calls started to track down more hay to ensure we have enough to feed all the cattle through winter.  My ever growing box of receipts and invoices remind me that I haven't kept up with my bookwork nearly as well as I'd like to think.  Friends and neighbors are harvesting corn and soybeans.

Those are just a few signs that fall is slowly (or rapidly) taking the place of summer.  We always look forward to the beautiful scenery fall brings in the Ozarks and wish it would last a little longer.  Among all the meetings, appointments and various fall activities, we must remember to take time to appreciate the beauty that Fall Frenzy brings with it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

There's Hot & Then There's HOT

Summer decided to show us just how hot it could really get last week.  After complaining about the cold all last winter, I've just about decided that maybe it wasn't so bad.  Then again, maybe the heat has affected my thinking...

We reached triple digits in the Ozarks and people were complaining left and right about the heat.  Several folks were saying how they weren't about to get out in the heat and how nice it was to stay inside with the air conditioning.  No matter how hot (or cold) it gets, dairy farmers have chores to do.  The cows still have to be milked twice a day, every day regardless of the weather.

Farmers take measures to make sure the cows are kept as comfortable as possible.  Every dairy farm is different, so there isn't any one set rule as the best thing to do, just the best for that particular farm.  We let the cows spread out under shade trees during the day and let them stand under water misters before milking time to cool off.  Fresh water is available at all times and each cow is closely monitored.  These are just a few of the things we do for the cows.  In a few months, we'll be doing other things to see to their comfort during the cold weather.  No matter what time of year, or what type of weather, it's all about keeping the cows comfortable.  As for this week, thank goodness for the shade trees!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ice Cream Cone History

Have you ever wondered where the ice cream cone originated? I can remember reading about how the ice cream cone was invented at the 1904 World's Fair held in St. Louis, MO when I was in the 4th grade. Being proud Missourians, the whole class thought this little tidbit of history was pretty neat. If I remember correctly, the teacher even had a question about it on our social studies test.

Since July is National Ice Cream Month, I decided to research the subject of ice cream and soon started looking into the whole ice cream cone ordeal. Here's what I found out:

*A New York City vendor is actually credited for the invention of the ice cream cone dating back back to 1896. He later patented the idea in 1903.
*The ice cream vendor teamed up with a nearby waffle vendor when he couldn't keep up with
demand and kept running out of dishes.
*Popularity for the ice cream cone soared when it was introduced at the 1904 World's Fair.
*It takes about 50 licks to finish off a one scoop cone.

So there we have it...Missouri can't really claim the first ice cream cone. I don't guess it really matters, it still tastes great!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Farm Wife Anniversary

My husband & I celebrated our anniversary this last week. Several of my friends sent us well wishes via the internet and suggestions on how we should celebrate. The most common suggestion was that we should take the day off & go out to eat at a nice restaurant. Sounded good to me; only one problem...we're farmers. Taking the day off just wasn't gonna happen on that particular day. Just like we didn't get to do anything on Father's Day because we spent the day working with a cow that was having trouble calving (both cow & calf are doing great).

While I'm not suggesting that farmers never take a day off, I will have to say that we don't always get to schedule those days off like we might like. We had several things going on and not enough help to cover all the chores around the farm. It's okay, we'll just go out to dinner another time.

So what did my dearest get me? Honestly, we were both so busy that we didn't get each other anything. I have a few friends that would be furious with their husband if they didn't get something, but not me. Over the last few years we've gotten "practical" about gift-giving. In the many years I've received: a tractor on Mother's Day, a new pump for the slurry store for Christmas, a load of lime for Valentine's Day, a used chore truck for a birthday and my personal favorite...a manure scraper for an anniversary (I actually picked that one out myself). While some of my friends have been shocked by some of these "gifts", my farm-friendly pals have laughed and actually shared similar stories of "gifts". In all fairness, I have received flowers, jewelry and the like over the years, so please don't think my hubby is a bad person.

We'll find a day sometime soon when things are a little less hectic and have dinner to celebrate our anniversary. Maybe I can get another manure scraper the next time the dairy supply truck comes (I wore the old one out). In the meantime, we'll keep putting the care of our cows first. After all, that's what being a farm wife is all about.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dairymom blog?

Do you love your job? Do you take your work home with you? Can you imagine not being able to leave work? While this may sound extreme, it's what most farmers do every day. We live on the farm that we work on and it's where we raise our family. It has it's ups and downs, but for the most part, I don't think we would change much about our way of life.

Last month I started blogging. Some of my friends think I've lost my mind. Honestly, some days I think my mind went out the window a long time ago. So why would a mom/wife/farmer want to blog or tweet? Maybe it's a form of venting, but mainly it's a way for me to get the true story of agriculture out there.

There's nothing like having your child come home from a school trip and inform you that we're "bad people" because we farm. He was told on this field trip (sponsored by a water shed group) that "farmers pollute the water". After the initial shock wore off, I talked with my son about how many regulations we abide by and how much good water quality means to us as dairy farmers. Not only does the well that we get our drinking water from supply our home, it supplies water for our animals and is used to clean our milking system. The well gets tested on a regular basis to ensure that it's up to standards for cleaning the milk system. Thankfully he understood, but the damage was already done and would be very hard to undo to his very impressionable classmates.

So here I am, blogging, tweeting and spending time on facebook trying to undo some of the misconceptions in agriculture. Will I be able to make a difference? Maybe. I guess if nothing else, I can do some venting.

You can also take a virtual tour of our farm on :

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dedication or Sacrifice?

We're closing June Dairy Month today. For the last month we've tried our best to promote all the wonderful things dairy and will continue doing so. Being the end of dairy month, we wouldn't want to leave you without some dairy fun, so July kicks off National Ice Cream Month.

Dairy products offer a great way to get essential vitamins and nutrients in your diet and it certainly helps that they taste good. I mean really, almost anything is better when you add a little cheese. How could you start your morning without milk on your cereal? Yogurt in a parfait or smoothie is a wonderful way to add fruit to your diet.

Independence Day is just around the corner and everyone I talk to seem to have plans for the weekend. So what do farmers do to celebrate? Like most, they'll probably make it to a gathering of some sort or even go away for the weekend if they have someone to do chores for them. Work on the farm doesn't stop for a national holiday and we sure aren't going to get a floating holiday off. Chores will still need to be done, cattle tended and the milking will take place twice a day.

Over the years, people just can't imagine why we can't make it to a party that starts at 4 PM or why we're late to something. Well what can I say? The farm comes first. Some might say we're making a sacrifice because we don't get out as much as our friends. We consider it dedication to the land we live on, the animals we care for and the food we produce.

I've added a picture of the little premature beef calf, Biscuit, we had this year. Realistically, she shouldn't have made it, but I spent many nights getting up every few hours to feed her and I'm proud to say she's thriving. This is why we do what we do. It isn't really a sacrifice when we have something like Biscuit to prove that our hard work was worth it.

In my own opinion, the real sacrifice was made by the men and women who gave us the privilege to be able to celebrate Independence Day. So THANK YOU to everyone who has served our country. Without their dedication and sacrifices, we wouldn't have anything to celebrate.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Farming, Weather & Weekends

There's no doubt that farmers work in every type of weather imaginable. We milk cows every day, twice a day no matter what it's like outside.

When I was young, I never quite understood grown-ups obsession with watching the weather every evening. As I got older, I began to appreciate the importance of what it meant. Sudden changes in temperatures might mean we need to make preparations for the cattle. A big snow would mean it's time to make sure we have enough feed on hand for a few extra days. A few years ago we experienced one of the worst ice storms in history that left us without power for a week...not something we want to go through again anytime soon.

The one weather factor that almost every farmer obsesses about is rain. Here in Missouri, the old timers will tell you that we're a day away from a flood and a week away from a drought. We've seen rain soak one farm and not a drop will fall across the road on the next. Not enough (or too much) can determine the amount &/or quality of hay or crops we rely on to feed our cows. Right now our Northern part of the state is saturated, while the Southern part wouldn't mind a good soaking.

We watched the rain roll in across the hills and tree-lines this afternoon and were awfully proud to see it coming, weekend or not. As for the folks headed to the lakes and kids playing ball, they were probably a little less enthused than we were.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dairy Month Every Month

We're entering the last days of June Dairy Month rather quickly and I know it's been a busy one around here. I was able to attend a few dairy functions this month and spread the message of how farmers really do care about our land, animals and producing a wholesome product. Once July 1st rolls in, we can start celebrating Ice Cream Month!

No matter what month it is or what we're "celebrating", you can be sure that dairy farmers across the United States are working very hard every day to produce a nutritious product. We aren't going to take a long weekend or the rest of the summer off because June is over. In some ways, you might say that we have Dairy Month every month.

Ask any farmer if they've ever missed out or been late to a family gathering, school or church function, or even an appointment and I'll bet almost every one of them have. It's not that they choose to; it's usually due to an emergency or unexpected problem compliments of a cow, piece of equipment or weather. A true farmer is committed to their best, because farming isn't just a job, it's a way of life. Nobody ever said it was easy, but if it were, wouldn't everyone want to be a dairy farmer?

Enjoy something dairy delicious and celebrate Dairy Month all year long!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vacation Crashers

How do you get the attention of a hundred or more people enjoying a vacation by the lake? We found a sure-fire way today...take a couple of cows to a resort. Believe me, that'll get their attention!

Before you start making plans to crash someones vacation, please note that we were invited. Midwest Dairy Association asked me to participate in a June Dairy Month activity day at a major resort in Branson, MO. I had the opportunity to speak with people (young & old) about dairy farming, caring for the land, how we take care of our animals, and some of the wonderful products that are made from milk from our cows.

Talking with me wasn't the highlight of the
afternoon. That honor was given to "Aloha",
the Brown Swiss cow that Alison (Midwest
Dairy intern) brought along. I wasn't offended
that Aloha was more popular with everyone
because it isn't everyday that you get to watch
people "meet" a real cow for the first time. For me, watching someone touch a cow and have that "this is where milk comes from" moment is priceless. We've become 3, or even more, generations removed from the farm and folks
don't really know where their food comes from.
I hope we were able to help educate a few more people today. Alison introducing "Aloha" to vacationers

Our visit wouldn't have been complete without "Sophia", the fabricated cow. She was a hit as usual and had around a hundred kids (and adults) "milk" her. The resort even made homemade ice cream that didn't last long. I was told that there were several people that had never had homemade ice cream.

Despite the hot, humid weather, I hope everyone had a good time. The kids will be able to go back to school this fall and tell everyone they got to pet a real cow and even milk another one (even if she wasn't real). The adults seemed to either be enchanted for their first-time cow encounter or reminiscence about past experiences. If they didn't fall into one of those categories, well, there was the ice cream...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Garage Sale Treasure

Everyone has "one of those days" every now and then. I seem to have more than my fair share, but I realize I'm not the only one and yes, there are those that have it much worse than I do. I was having "one of those days" last week and there it was; a sign: Garage Sale. Why not?

There was a retired couple having a garage sale. Not uncommon in our area and they had some interesting items. We began to chat about nothing in particular, I picked out a few things, gave the man my money and then it happened. He offered to help me load a particular item. I just smiled and politely refused, after all it "wasn't any heavier than a sack of feed" I told him. That's when the real conversation started.

This wasn't just a retired couple, they were retired farmers. We knew several of the same people and discussed how the community, farming, and kids today have changed. They'd had beef cattle, hogs, done some gardening, and ran a meat processing plant. When I said we had a small dairy, the older gentleman said, "That's the one thing I never would do. Milking cows takes too much time & ties you down. You have to do that 365 days a year".

What could I say? I had to agree except for one small detail...we get to do this 366 days on a Leap Year. We all had a good laugh. I explained that yes, it's pretty time consuming, but it's our way of life. Even though we spend numerous hours caring for our animals and the land, we still find time to enjoy life. Granted, it's not always fun, I can't imagine raising our family or living anywhere else.

I honestly enjoyed visiting with the retired couple and for the most part, it was the highlight of my day. There's nothing like a good conversation and I feel like I found a real treasure at that garage sale...and it didn't cost a thing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June is Dairy Month

It's hard to believe that it's already June 1st! Where has the year gone? Today also kicks off June Dairy Month - no big deal to some, a reason to celebrate for others.

I am often asked why my family & I would want to milk cows. The last couple of years have been some of the worst in history for dairy farmers, the hours are long, the work is get the idea. The upside is that we live & work on our farm (no hour long commute), it's a great place to raise a family, we get to work around animals every day, and we produce a wholesome, nutritious product to help feed the world.

While being a dairy farmer isn't for everyone, it's a job that we take pride in. I can't imagine myself working an office job in a major city, but I'm grateful for those who do because it takes many different kinds of people to keep our world running on track.

Celebrate June Dairy Month with dairy farmers across the nation by enjoying the products we help produce: cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and milk to name a few. Have a Dairy good day!