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.