Sunday, December 6, 2009
This past week I strived at achieving a goal. I wanted something and I went out and got it. I have no regrets. But I do have feelings. When achieving your dream also means ending someone else's, that is not a feeling of defeat...but rather an almost empty feeling. Remember that when one door closes, another door opens...and life does go on.
So the next stage of my life is to represent the members of Michigan Farm Bureau, as Director At-Large. I will not take this job lightly, I will do my best to promote agriculture and stand up for the thousands of farmers in Michigan who rely on a group of people that truly care about this industry. I will help to promote them, to educate them and to encourage them, because farming is not just a way of life, it is life!!
Until next time,
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Growing up on a sheep farm, I never even thought about a career in agriculture. You see, those late nights in the barn helping a baby lamb learn to nurse it's Mother just wasn't what a teenage girl had ambitions of. I wanted to work in a big city and a big office and wear fancy clothes. In my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to be an accountant. I loved numbers and math, and my accounting teacher said I would be great at it!
Well, after working my way through a community college, I landed a job with the State of Michigan, at a Secretary of State office, where you purchase your drivers license and license plates. A great job, with full benefits!! College became a thing of the past and I would be "not smart" by giving up a job like that. That's when my husband came into the picture.
Now many years later, I am fulfilling all of my childhood dreams. I do all the accounting work for our farm and I get to dress up when we go to meetings. How great!!
In 2003, I was appointed to serve on the Promotion & Education committee for Michigan Farm Bureau. Four years later, I was elected Chairperson of that committee and was allowed a seat on the Michigan Farm Bureau Board of Directors. My term expired in December of 2008 and since then I have felt a loss. So I have kept busy this year by starting this blog and using other social media tools to connect to consumers. I have been speaking to various service clubs in my area about agriculture, what we do on the farm and why we do it. That has been great! Although we live in a rural county, it's been amazing to me that people who even live around agriculture still don't understand it.
Well anyway, I am off to the Michigan Farm Bureau State Annual in Grand Rapids today. I will give this race for a Board seat my all, and who knows, maybe Friday I will win the election and will be the newest At-Large Board member. If not, I will still be the dairy farmer from southern Michigan helping to spread the word about Ag and how important it is in my daily life and yours!!
Until next time,
Support your local farmer!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Go to http://www.farmersfeedus.org/ and learn about ten different farmers and their families, answer a trivia question and you could win free groceries!
Monday, November 2, 2009
And did you know that a cow can drink up to 50 gallons of water a day? Does that mean that a cow can produce 100 gallons of milk each day? Not really, I don't know any cow that can produce that much milk in a day. However, there are cows that can give 100 POUNDS in a day!
Anyway, we are quite happy with 10 gallons!!
Until next time,
Drink lots of MILK!!
Click on this link and read the article in the local newspaper.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Being new to the dairy farming industry, she and her husband just gotten married 11 months earlier. Taking over the family farm after the death of her husband's father, the couple had given up their "city" life to move back to the farming community.
It was 1:30 am on Devil's night, October 30th. We had arrived about an hour earlier, after going to dinner with close friends then home to bed. The phone woke us up at about 11:45pm. Our friend on the other end, told us he had received a couple phone calls about the farm fire, it sounded pretty bad. We thanked him for letting us know, then realized we just could not sleep knowing there was a family in need. What about the parlor and the cows? Were they okay, did they need to be moved to another farm, and where? How many people could we gather together with stock trailers to move all these cattle? Questions were racing through our minds as we discussed what they might have to do to cope with this sort of loss.
My husband tried to call the farmer, no answer. "He's probably too busy". We tried another friend, who lived closer, no answer. We decided we couldn't just lay there, we had to go see if we could help. And if there was nothing we could do, we would be there for moral support. Sometimes you just need "moral support". One more phone call to the friend who had originally called us and we headed to his house to pick him up.
There were at least 6 fire departments there, lights flashing, fireman scurrying, spraying water, and assesing the damage. The electricity had been shut off to everything, but the farmstead was lit up like a Christmas tree. The farmer had lost his cell phone in the chaos, but a fireman found it and brought it to the family. It looked like a roasted fish bowl, full of water! But definitely a bright spot in all the turmoil.
We were grateful to find most of the farm intact. The shop and commodity shed were a total loss, but could be replaced. Several tractors and feed were lost also. But the cows and parlor were saved!! That to us, was the best news.
Several years ago another neighbor had lost his parlor to a fire. At that time, we had extra room and his milk cows moved to our farm. Boy was that a challenge, but at the same time a blessing for them to have somewhere to go and take care of their cows. This time we had no room, but luckily nearby there was an almost empty facility that would have held his herd had the need arose.
It's now several days later that I'm finishing this post. Neighbors and friends have loaned tractors and tools to help the family out until their insurance company comes through with some money to make those neccessary replacements.
All is good again. It really makes you appreciate the farming community and the support that comes when a farmer's in trouble...
Until next time,
Appreciate your neighbor.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wasn't that fun? Well, every Fall we spend an enormous amount of time harvesting our crops that we planted in the Spring, just like these soybeans.
"A soybean consists mostly of protein-rich meal, and 98 percent of that meal is used to feed animals that produce food such as poultry, pork, beef and fish", says Chuck Myers of the United Soybean Board and a Nebraska soybean farmer. Soybeans provide the world with protein and oil used in food, animal feed, and industrial applications. A 60-pound bushel of soybeans makes about 11 pounds of oil and 48 pounds of soymeal (ground up pulp).
When the farmer sells his soybeans, usually to a grain elevator, there is a mandatory assessment of one-half of one percent of the net market price. This assessment is part of a program called the National Soybean Checkoff. Half of the money stays in the state where the soybeans are produced and the other half is forwarded to the United Soybean Board. The collections are invested to advance soybean marketing, production technology and the development of new uses.
Some of the human food uses for soybeans include oil used in margerine, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and cooking oil (labeled as vegetable oil in the grocery store). And don't forget cereals, candies, baby food or formula, and medicines.
Other non-food uses include cosmetics, fabrics, plastics, soap, and water-based paints. A friend of mine works for a large printing company in Texas and tells me, that currently, ink made from soybeans is used in printing labels for food products.
Feeding soybeans to our cows is an essential part of a complete diet and contributes to their overall health. And what about your health? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that food containing soy protein may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This claim is based on the FDA's determination that 25 grams of soy protein per day may reduce that risk by reducing blood cholesterol levels. www.cfsan.fda.gov.
The uses of soybeans are continually growing. To find out more about soybeans check out www.michigansoybean.org today.
Until next time,
Watch for items containing soybeans!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Today we have had our first "official" snow fall (meaning it has stuck to the ground just so you can see it.) Yep, you heard me - that dreaded 4 letter word!! SNOW. Oh Lord, I haven't even gotten all my fall work done yet. It's too early for this!! But the milk in Michigan is cold today!!
We just finished corn chopping- I will show you that later with pics-and still have to chop some sorghum sudan grass. All to feed the hungry cows!! Then it's full steam with harvesting soybeans and corn. And with the rainy weather every other day, it's been difficult to manage all this.
We will still pray for an "Indian Summer", you know when it actually warms up again! And if we're lucky, we'll get a long enough one to keep moving on the harvest and be done by Thanksgiving. That would definitely be a time for celebration!
So bear with me while I get my extra jobs done and I can move on to the next and get back to posting to keep all of you updated and informed.
Until next time,
Thursday, October 8, 2009
With chopping of haylage going full steam into corn silage and the wet weather to contend with every day, not to mention getting ready for the county fair-whew! Life's been full!
This week I have started a blog post, but unfortunately, it's not finished and I find myself juggling many apples. When the guys (employees) are hard at work trying to get the crops in either in the Spring or Fall, it's my job to feed them. So sack lunches and good nutritious dinners with DAIRY products is what they eat this time of year. Then in between, I work in the office, take care of the horses, and pet-goat, Gomez. Oh yea, right now I'm off to chase steers in the corn field-AGAIN!!
Sorry to cut this short, but there's no time to waste when the cattle run through the corn!!
Until next time,
Corral your cattle!!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Oh how I love the county fair!! When I was a kid, my neighbors (the Nichols family) were the managers of the fair. They were also like my second family, and back then there were benefits of being "family" when the county fair started! I met "famous" people and rode all the rides for free (remember this was a long time ago-haha). It's great when you are ten years old and can stay late at the fairgrounds because you are doing the "rounds" with the "manager". I fell in love with the fair back then and still can't get enough of it today (just ask my husband).
I started my 4-H club when my oldest was 7 and now he's 20. My daughter's last year was in 2008 and I'm down to one last child showing at the fair, and he's 16. I'm already dreading the day when it will be his last fair. But maybe then I will start to take things to the fair for myself? I've wanted to enter photos for the last three years, but still haven't gotten that done. I will have more time to spend in the "Little Red Barn", the one our County Dairy Promoters sell milk and ice cream out of. And yes, much more time for chit-chat!!
Although my family raises cows, we don't take them to the fair. We have a strict policy of keeping our herd separate from other cows so as not to pick up any type of sickness that could lead to whole herd contamination. My children, instead, take other animals that don't come home, along with crop projects. We sell the animals at the end of the week and the "buyers" have the option to take them for meat or send them to the "market" where they will end up on someonelse's table. It is a win-win situation. The kids are able to use their money for next year's animal project and the buyers are supporting the "educational process" that took place over the past 3-12 months. We are very fortunate to have dedicated people support the youth in our county. My family, in turn, are supporters of the 4-H kids as well. We purchased some ducks and sheep this year.
My 4-H club members also take a wide variety of craft and food and crop projects along with educational exhibits. And so it goes, long months of preparation to display your "harvests" at the county fair, and in one week it is all over until next year. But what a great week it is!!
Until next time,
May the fair season Moo-ve your way!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Some say the future is uncertain for agriculture here. Please support your local farm families as this is their way of life. Feeding the world-that's what it's all about! But it may be the world feeding us-sooner than you think!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We pride ourselves on trying to keep a tidy place. But when it's going to be seen nationwide-well, you just have to take a little bit closer look. So we have been busy for the last several days making sure all is in order. We have had a bit of rain lately, so the grass just keeps growing!! Good thing we have 2 lawn mowers.
I hope to be able to take some pictures while they are here and post them on my blog. Anyway, we will put our best foot forward-and so will the cows! When it becomes available, I'll let you know. Like they say in showbusiness, Break a Leg, or maybe I should say Hoof!!
Until next time,
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
It's also one of the busiest times of the year for us here at the dairy. We planted our crops in the Spring and now it's harvest time. We have been working on chopping and baling hay. The first process is to mow, or cut, the hay. We use two mowers to do this-it is just quicker for us. This time of the year, the faster you can cut, or mow it, the faster it will have time to dry.
We then rake one row, or in our case "invert" (flip) it, onto another row so there is more hay for the Chopper to pick up.
It is dumped from the trucks in a pile and then is pushed up and onto a pile on the ground-on a cement pad. We have three different locations where we store haylage and corn silage. This is a smaller area:
Thanks for seeing how we chop hay for good quality forage for our cows. To produce milk, the cows need good food, and this is just one example of how it's done!
Next, we'll be looking at chopping corn for corn silage, so check back again to see some exciting videos on that.
Until next time,
Buy dairy products.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Do you believe everything you read or hear? I would hope not. But, I would say that sometimes you may hear things are just "amazing", "incredible", or even "inhumane?".
As a dairy farmer, who is truly pro-active in the promotion and education of all of agriculture, it saddens me to think that people would believe anyone who isn't an actual farmer. Would you ask questions of a lawyer if you wanted a diagnosis for an ailment? Probably not. Your best bet is to find a person who really knows their "business".
Animal agriculture in this country is huge. The majority of the population likes meat (and no I don't have numbers to back this statement up). I am one of those people-the ones who enjoy a good steak, chicken salad, and pork loin. I cannot think of a time or place where I have not seen any type of meat (pork, beef, chicken, fish) on a menu or in a store. Obviously, I am not a vegetarian, but I am aware that there is a small population that does not eat meat. And some don't even consume or use products from animals-not even dairy or poultry, these people are called vegans. Each to his own. And, I certainly don't ridicule these people, they have a choice, just like I have a choice to "Eat Meat".
I am no different than most people that I know. I stand up for what I believe in and I tell the truth. I don't make it a habbit to talk negatively about others. But just for this "year", I am having a hard time sticking to that last point. You see, there is a national organization, called the "Humane Society of the United States", HSUS, (led by a smooth talking man named Wayne Pacelle), not to be confused with any state or local Humane Society/Shelter. This organization's purpose is to "eliminate animal agriculture" in the United States. Now that leaves me in a bit of a pickle. My families livelihood depends on animal ag, just like the thousands of farmers and ranchers throughout the U.S. Where will McDonalds and Wendy's and all the other fast food chains be without hamburgers? You guessed it-in another country. And if there's no meat here, then the meat will come to us. Which leads us into another quandry-food safety! America has the safest food supply in the world. Not to mention, the cheapest.
The HSUS uses cute little puppies and kittens as their motive for collecting Millions of dollars a year from unsuspecting people, their annual budget is somewhere around $130 Million dollars. You may think you're helping to save the seals or the lost and abandoned animals, but in actuality you are contributing to their fundraising efforts to pass ballot initiatives in states such as California and Ohio.
My point is that people in the "business" know what they are talking about. To let "outsiders" come into our state and fight for their "beliefs" is just immorally wrong. Talk to a farmer, or someone who is directly connected to agriculture. They are the experts-not people who don't live and breath it every day of their life.
24% of Michiganians are employed in agriculture. That means that 1 out of every 4 people you may know have some relationship with ag. But for the 3 out of 4 people who know little, if any, about agriculture please share this blog with them. There are other blogs that I recommend also, follow my links. And I am always searching for new and interesting blogs that tell the story of ag, so let me know if you find one that peaks your interest.
This weeks question was "Do you feel farmers take good care of their animals"? An overwhelming YES resounded. Hooray! You're right. Farmers and ranchers take excellent care of their animals. The health of a cow and her calf is very important to us as healthy animals equate to healthy products. As mentioned in an earlier post, we provide shelter, a nutritious diet of fresh feed and water daily, veterinary care, and plenty of good ole' cow comfort. We care for every animal, every acre and every person. This is our livlihood, this is where we raise our children and grandchildren and this is where we feed the world. So Thank a dairy farmer the next time you meet one, and drink that cold glass of milk knowing that plenty of hard work and care went into it!
Until next time,
Thank a farmer.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
But, I'm wondering, why is milk that high priced? You see, the dairy farmer only receives about 50 cents from that gallon. This is not typical. The milk price paid to the farmer is so low that we are not even breaking even. How is that? There are many reasons.
As you have figured out this year, there is a recession. And there is a world recession also. That means that other countries who typically buy (import) from the United States have cut back dramatically or are not importing at all. The dairy supply of dry milk, butter and cheese is then stockpiled in the U.S. with no where to go but wait to get consumed.
Dairy product consumption is lower in the summer months. Ice cream may be higher, but overall, other dairy products are not consumed as much as in the Fall and Winter, when baking and holidays lead to stronger sales.
I want to mention that other businesses suffer from periodic market lows also. But there seems to be radical changes in agriculture these days. As anyone who is in business for themselves knows, you can only hold on for so long and then the time comes that you may have to sell out. Unfortunately, several large and small dairies around the country have had to do just that. This is very painful to all dairy farmers, to see someone who has devoted his life to feeding the nation, have to call it quits.
While we all hold on to the fact that agriculture is the core of this country, lets not forget that all consumers want "cheap" food. According to the United States Dept. of Agriculture, America has the cheapest food supply in the world, only 10% of a person's annual disposable income is spent on food versus 13.4% in 1974. Because of the increase in technology, our production has gone up and costs to the consumer have gone down. Other countries remain at a higher level of income vs. cost for food, such as Italy, where the annual disposable income spent on food is as high as 23%, and India where they spend around 51% for food.
What you can do. To help out the American Dairy Farmer, buy more milk products. Follow the Food Pyramid and make sure you get enough of the daily allowance of dairy. Encourage others to add milk products to their diets and like I always tell my friends: "Support your local dairy farmer"!
Until next time,
Get your "3 A Day", (dairy servings).
Friday, September 4, 2009
The cows are fed a mixed ration two times a day. That means all their food is mixed together-and they gobble it up. Their feed consists of hay and corn and soybeans and minerals and other ingredients that our "Dairy Nutritionist" tells us they should be eating. He visits our farm usually twice a month and takes samples of the feed, then he knows just the right amounts of what a cow needs to put together for her "menu". As you can see below, the cows love it!
The cow barns are very comfortable, they offer shelter from the weather such as rain and the hot sun. They are cooled in the summer by open sides and big fans that keep the air circulating. Some barns even have cool water misters that spray over the cows several times a day. They are heated in the winter by closing the sides with covers, or curtains, to keep the cold wind out. The cows are quite content when the wind is blocked.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
This is a new pivot we started using this year, on a soybean field across from our house. It moves very slowly to get the right amount of water on the beans.
Farmers use various forms of technology every day. An irrigation pivot is a tool that we use to help ensure that we will have enough of a crop to feed our cows. Too little rain, and we could have a poor crop year. Because we grow the majority of our cow feed, the weather plays a very important role in the cows diet. With enough rain this week, we might not have to run the pivot for several days-that would be good!
There's plenty to do on a rainy day. There's always something that needs fixed, so the farm shop is usually a busy place on a day like today. We are working on our chopper. This is a machine that "chops" the crops for feed. We will be chopping hay, called "haylage", in about a week. Look back for pictures on that.
My husband and I sometimes need to spend more time in the office. We have a 1930's Sears and Roebuck house that we lived in when we first got married. We had 2 children in this one bedroom house-let's just say, it was full! In December of 1991, we moved to the main farm and my husband's parents moved into a new house. That next Spring, we brought our little house to the farm and made an office out of it. With a little remodeling, it works perfect!! And remember, farming is a business too, and just like any other business, office work is always there waiting for someone to do it! That's my main job at the farm, along with many others.
So a rainy day is a perfect day to catch up on all those little things you put off doing when the sun is shining.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I am so excited to tell you all of the great things about being a dairy farmer in this blog. Every day, yes, 365 days a year, we are living the story of the American Farmer.
Dreaming the dream of owning our own land. Because, about 99% of all U.S. dairy farms are family-owned and operated, just like ours. And every day we are raising animals in a healthy environment to help feed the world.
Feed the world, you say? Yes, feed the world. Nearly 60,000 U.S. dairy farms provide milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products to the U.S. and other countries. U.S. dairy farms produce roughly 21 billion gallons of milk annually.
A cow will produce an average of 6.3 gallons of milk each day. That’s more than 2,300 gallons each year. Most milk only travels about 100 miles from the dairy to the grocery store to ensure farm-fresh quality. To be sure you get a safe product, milk and dairy foods undergo extensive quality and safety testing before they reach the grocery store. In fact, dairy foods are one of the most highly regulated foods you will consume.
Milking machines deliver milk directly from the cows to a refrigerated holding tank to preserve freshness and ensure safety. The milk is then quickly transported to processing plants for continued freshness and safety. And isn't it wonderful? There's nothing better than a good cold glass of milk.
So stay tuned in to "The Milk Can" and I will help to educate you and your family on the benefits of being a Michigan farmer, and share in the joy (and sometimes the sorrow) of being a dairy farmers wife.
Until next time,