Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blessing . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why Be So Transparent with Agovacy?

“Eeuuu, Pee-U, What stinks?”

When I hear that from our visitors I know their romanticized view of farming is heading for a change.

“Why can’t the babies stay with their mothers? It seems so mean.”

When I begin to share the benefits from feeding the calf with a measured amount, the safety from being stepped on, the freshly cleaned, sanitized stall that they will be watched and fed I can see their perception changing.

“Why aren’t your cows out in the fields?”

Yes, today is a nice day to be lollygagging in the open fields – at least until about noon when it will become stifling hot this time of year. Or, would you prefer in 90 degree weather to be in the shaded barn misted with water and cooled with fans?

A large percentage of people I speak with have their own vision of what my farm will look like when I tell them I am a dairy farmer.

Some think I go out every morning with my apron on and throw some feed to a few chickens. While I collect the eggs, Farmer goes out to milk our two cows using a three legged stool. Then we all come in and have a huge breakfast made from the fresh eggs and bacon from the pig we butchered a few months ago. After breakfast, Farmer jumps on his tractor to do some field work while I’m in the kitchen canning tomatoes and baking bread. If only.

At a store one day the clerk pointed out to my daughter-in-law a picture on the wall of a cow with horns. She mentioned that everyone was calling the cow Sally. “But, everyone knows that is a boy cow. Only boy cows have horns.”

My daughter-in-law politely answered “No, all cows have horns.”

The clerk adamantly replied, “No, only boys have horns everyone knows that!”

My daughter-in-law responded with “I live on a dairy farm and all calves have horns.”

The clerk just looked at her and turned away.

One of the occurrences that surprise me when we give tours is that many don’t realize or think through the fact that a cow has to give birth before she gives milk. That’s how it works with humans and once they hear that they think, “Oh yes I guess that’s how it would work.”

We met a gentleman the other day on a park bench and started up a conversation. He was sharing how good his health was for an older man. He mentioned that he was a vegetarian. I said to him “It looks like you’re doing a great job of eating a vegetarian diet correctly. Can I ask you why you chose not to eat meat?”

“Sure. I guess I just didn’t like the fact that my meat would come from those big factory farms that don’t take good care of their animals.”

“Have you ever been to a factory farm or know anyone who owns one?” I asked politely.

“No, not really, but I heard they don’t take care of the animals and I didn’t want to be part of that.”

This is our main milking parlor.

“Well, we just happen to be dairy farmers and our farm is big enough to be considered a CAFO – which many people call factory farms. We enlarged our farm to be able to support our three sons that were growing into the business.”

This is the small parlor where we milk
cows that are being treated with antibiotics
until they are off the medicine and the
withdrawal time has been reached.
I went on to explain a few things and we invited him out to the farm. When we left, he had our phone number, my farm face book page and my blog information. He called the next day and asked if he could come to the farm with a couple of friends.

A few weeks ago I was handed a sample of cheese at the grocery store and the young lady gave her little speech about the cheese and added “It’s antibiotic free.”

This is the chart of withdrawal time for
medicines. As a farm we take extra time.

I told her how good the cheese was and the introduced myself as a dairy farmer and began to explain that all milk is antibiotic free. I revealed how our milk is tested at the dairy before it enters the system and that if it contained any antibiotics it would be dumped. I shared with her how our computer system and leg bands would set off alarms in the parlor if a cow that has been treated would enter. They are kept in separate pens. Also, I expressed our desire to care for our animals when sick and sometimes that means medication. Once they are well and the antibiotics are out of their system (which is directed by the company that produces the medication) they may come back into the regular milking parlor.

Overwhelmingly people are listening to the loudest voice when it comes to their food supply. And, usually the loudest voice is perpetuating fear in their message. Making decisions based on fear is not a good thing. And, who can blame you? As a mother I want to be sure my family is fed good, quality, safe food.

My goal is to be the calm voice of information. I don’t carry signs and protest, or put out heart tugging commercials to get you to donate money to my cause. I basically open the doors to our farm and life through my blogging and face book page. We also physically open the doors to our farm for tours.

This is the small calf we nursed
for several days but lost.

Part of our barn roof caved in
due to heavy snow.

I will show the awesome miracle of birth, the great improvements in the industry, the beautiful fields of corn and the painted country skies. You will also learn about the trials of farming in bad weather – too much rain, not enough rain, snow that caves in barn roofs and pests that devour crops. Along with the miracle of birth you will see the reality of death. It’s is never easy when you have to put an animal down or lose one after spending days trying to save her.

And there will be poop! A lot of poop. Cows eat so therefore they poop. And poop has a unique odor that many people don’t appreciate. Too many people want to move out to the open fields– the fields that grow food for animals that poop that smell - with wrong expectations.

The bottom line for agvocating? - My Farmer and sons work terribly hard. The hours are long and their bodies are paying the price. Lately the milk prices are so low it’s a challenge to figure out how to keep the wheels turning. When I see them covered in dust and dirt, falling asleep standing up and then read lies, condescending and twisted articles about what we are doing, I get emotionally upset. I become sad and frustrated that the people eating the food that my family is working so hard for are criticizing what we do. I get angry – you wanted transparency well there you have it. I get angry that we are not only working our tails off physically, now we have to work to explain the truth, to expose lies and soothe fears.

I was a big fan of show and tell at school. Now, I do show and tell on steroids and work to get the truth out to the people who need it the most. When I am sick I go to the doctor for help, not a celebrity or well-known athlete. I want a doctor who is educated, who practices on a daily basis. I encourage you to bring your questions here to Ag Chat or Ask the Farmers Facebook page where you have access to all types of farmers. You can visit my page - A Farm Wife or my blog – and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out for you.

The next time you have a bowl of cereal with milk or milk and cookies I hope you think of us here in West MI loving the life that helped produce your milk.

What the guys do for fun:

Friday, August 19, 2016

How Sweet it is!

Nothing tastes better in the winter than sweet corn from the garden. And, it is so easy!

I just finished freezing 182 ears. And, I have a nice supply in my freezer for several Sunday dinners to come.

First of all - goes without saying. Pick the corn. Make sure it is ripe but not too ripe. As soon as the silk turns dark it should be ripe.

Next, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.

While the water is coming to a boil husk your corn and get all the silk off.

Once the water is boiling, add the ears of corn.

While the water is coming back to a boil fill two sinks (or large bowls or containers)  full of cold water. Bring the pot back to boiling. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the burner off and take the corn from the boiling water and put into the first sink of cold water. This stops the cooking of the corn.

Then transfer to a second sink of cold water.

Using a sharp knife cut the corn from the cob - be careful not to get too close to the cob or you will get part of the cob too.

Put the corn into freezer bags - sizes of your choice. I use gallon bags for our Sunday dinners. The kids love corn and will eat, eat, eat.

Flatten your bags out while pushing out all the air. This way it will store in your freezer nicer.

When you are ready to use - thaw, heat and go to town!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

He Gives Strength . . .

Thursday, August 4, 2016

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day - Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

It's National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

For years I held this recipe close to my heart. These are the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever eat. I had a cookie company for awhile and these were #1.

Ready to get your cookies on?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together 1/2 C softened butter, 1/2 C canola (vegetable oil can be used too), 
1/2 C sugar and 1 C packed brown sugar.

Add and mix 2 eggs and 1 t. vanilla.

Add and mix 1 t. salt, 1 t. soda and about 3 C flour. 

This is where it gets tricky. So many of my recipes are by sight and feel. You want enough flour to make the dough firmish - not stiff, - you know.

Add 2 C chocolate chips - use real, don't skip.

I use parchment paper for cookies. Why? Because it saves on clean up - lazy baker here.

Now, this is the key. Bake about 10 minutes or so. You want to take the cookies out when they are just turning golden brown. Don't wait for them all to be completely toasty looking. I know, you think they aren't baked but most people over bake. As soon as they start turning take them out!

Add a large cold cup of milk and you'll have your mouth 
celebrating and your stomach screaming "Give me more!"

Celebrate the ordinary

Today is the only day you have. Don't wish it away, worry it away or plan it away. Your ordinary days add up to life.

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