Thursday, March 31, 2011

March is Leaving Like a Lion...

Well it sure looks like March 2011 is going to leave us like a Lion.  It came in like a Lion, and it's suppose to leave like a Lamb, but I doubt we will get that Lamb like last year.  We had snow and cold to start March, and now we are leaving March with cooler than normal temps with a chance of rain/snow tomorrow.  We have local flooding in our rivers and at the farm we have MUD!

Dare I say it...I wanted Mud Season so badly only weeks ago, but now I am throwing the white flag of surrender! I give up!  It's not that the mud affects me directly, but it's that I have to deal with the aftereffects it has on Jon.  My calves, heifers and milking cows are all inside or in lots that are sandy, therefore drier. order to feed all of our cows, heifers and calves...we have to get to our silage bags out in the field south of our milking barn.  In that we field we have MUD!  We have mud so deep and thick right now that if you walk through it with boots on, the mud will pull those boots right off!  The mud has the consistency of a thick modeling clay...tacky yet still slimy.  We are no longer able to get to our silages with the skid loader, but instead we have to use the loader tractor with Front Wheel Assist (a fancy ag-way to say extra traction!).  The loader tractor is leaving ruts and tracks almost 3 feet deep!  You could fall and get lost in ruts that deep!  Driving the loader tractor is not for those with weak stomachs.  The ruts also track up and down over pieces of top soil that are still frozen and top soil that is thawed out all the way to the clay base.  That darn mud gets in everything and is everywhere!  Jon has brought home mud in his boots, on his boots, and on his clothes.  Mud even gets in his hair.  Needless to say Jon would be tickled pink if we could get a week of 50 degree temps and's hoping April brings us more "spring-like" weather!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Please don't litter, it's not only a farm but our office too!

Well, spring is here!  Currently it is thundering outside, with a forecast of snow and cold to follow...welcome to Minnesota in March!  With the warmer temps came a rapid thaw of our snow banks and drifts...the problem is the garbage that is left behind.  It never ceases to amazing me, that in our environmentally conscience society we still have problems with people littering! 
The snow left behind pop cans, plastic water bottles, fast food wrappers, cigarettes, papers, magazines, and so much more!  It appears that since we live on a major paved county road and that we operate a dairy farm, that means that we are an acceptable dumping spot for other peoples' trash.  Each spring I spend at about 2-4 days walking ditches, cow yards and tree lines, looking for this trash.  It seems simple to throw your garbage out the window at that dairy farm, but it turns out there are grave consequences for us. 
For example, each summer we bale our road ditches (grass and alfalfa mix) for our heifers and dry cows.  There's nothing more irritating than finding crushed pop cans in a bale of hay.  The bigger problem comes if a cow decided to eat that pop can.  Metal in a cow's rumen causes all kinds of problems, but if they are not caught and treated....the cow will die.  This is a serious issue.  Just today I watched one of my cows try to eat a soft drink cup from McDonald's...this is not safe for her! 
Secondly, we value the image of our farm.  Garbage in the ditches makes our farm appear "trashy" to passer-bys.  We work hard already, caring for our cows, calves and land, in addition to making the farm look presentable, we don't need more trash to pick up during our free time. 
Finally, it's just not nice to spread your garbage in someone else's office.  I don't think most people would enjoy it if I brought some of our trash to their offices and left it on their desk.  Please keep that in mind when it comes to dairy farmers...our farm is our office...we like keeping it neat, and we hope you will too!  So before you throw that trash out your window, please think twice for the dairy farmers who have to pick up after you...thanks!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Networking with Fellow Dairy Producers

Today I had the honor of speaking at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin's Business Conference, and let me tell's been a blast!  How awesome to see so many producers excited about milking cows, caring for cows, and communicating to consumers!  It's been great to see many producers taking advantage of the great seminars with awesome how to handling our cows better or how to communicate with consumers more effectively.  Dairy farmers are always striving to do a better job.  We are always looking for new methods to make our cows more comfortable or increase the level of care they receive.  New innovations are also displayed in the "Hall of Ideas", where I am looking forward to searching tomorrow...great new products from dairy companies that help us care for our cows!  The other great thing about this conference, besides the education is the networking with fellow dairy farmers...

Let me tell you, it might not seem like it, but we dairy farmers are VERY social people.  When we do get off of our farms we LOVE to talk with other dairy producers about what's working for them, what's working for us, new ideas with dairy industry representatives, and latest current events. It's great to share with producers from across the country your common frustrations and joys, because those are what bonds us together.  It's been an awesome experience to share with fellow farmers the joys I have writing this blog, posting on Facebook and Twitter, as well as our YouTube channel.  I hope many of those I spoke with today are as inspired as I am to continue sharing our stories...because dairy farmers have such GREAT stories!  Thanks to all dairy farmers for the hard work that you do everyday!  You are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, March 12, 2011's what's for dinner!

As dairy farmers, we work hard to promote our milk products, but as dairy farmers we are also beef producers too.  Our bull calves are raised by local farmers as steers and a few of our older cows are also sold for beef.  So, I took some time to educate myself tonight in why beef is important in a healthy diet.  I always knew beef was important, but I didn't know how power packed a lean serving of beef can here's some interesting facts:
  • A 3 ounce serving of beef supplies 51% of the daily recommended Protein.
  • That same serving of beef also provides 38% of the daily recommended Zinc, 37% of B-12, 26% of Selenium, and 20% of Phosphorous! Wow!
  • Beef is also a good source for Niacin, B-6, Riboflavin, and Iron.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Reports: "Americans are increasingly overfed yet undernourished, so it’s essential that we get the most nutritional value from the foods and beverages we enjoy. In fact, the USDA states American's should “get more nutrition from their calories” by choosing nutrient-rich foods first, within and among all food groups, including colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low- and nonfat dairy, and lean meats.

Beef's essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) helps the body build, maintain and repair body tissue. Muscles also form hormones and enzymes, and increase resistance to infection and disease. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that eating more protein can benefit weight loss, muscle mass maintenance, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and satiety. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iron deficiency is a common nutritional deficiency worldwide among young children and women of child-bearing age, including those who are pregnant.  Four million U.S. children are iron-deficient, and childhood iron-deficiency anemia is associated with behavioral and cognitive delays. Beef is a good source of iron, and unlike plant proteins, beef is the food supply’s most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron. Iron not only helps red blood cells carry oxygen to body tissue, it also plays an important role in cognitive health, including memory, ability to learn and reasoning.

Beef is an excellent source of zinc, which is an essential nutrient that fuels thousands of bodily processes, including building muscles and healing wounds, maintaining the immune system, and contributing to cognitive health.

Beef contains a significant amount of several B vitamins including vitamins B12 and B6, niacin and riboflavin.  Vitamin B12 is needed for normal functioning of body cells and of the nervous system.  Vitamin B6 is important for a healthy nervous system and helps the body fight infection. In addition, both vitamins B12 and B6 play important roles in lowering blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that increases risk for heart disease and dementia.  Niacin promotes healthy skin and nerves, aids digestion, and fosters normal appetite; and riboflavin helps the body use energy and promotes healthy skin and good vision.

As with all of our food choices, we must remember to eat in moderation.  Beef balanced with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy creates a delicious, healthy meal for families.  So, support our beef producers....and serve beef, it's what's for dinner!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

There's a light at the end of the tunnel...

I am so tired of blogging about the "s-word" and the "w-word" that I decided that I would post a more delightful blog from Minnesota!  Let's think spring!  This picture is from my garden last spring, and it gives me hope that after almost 4 solid months with the "s-word" we will once again see green grass, beautiful flowers and sunshine. 

These past few weeks at the farm have been long and tiresome.  Jon and I are working towards a number of goals for this year, but as a result we are required to put in lots of extra hours in at the farm.  Some days we get so wrapped up in the work that we start to forget what it is that we are working for,....much like our battle with the "w-word".  We get so busy working with the "s-word" that we forget that we are working towards spring!  Nothing like looking through some pictures from last spring to remind us of that.  So as we continue to work towards our goals for our cows and well as battling the eliments...we are reminded: there's a light at the end of the tunnel!