Summer Days

July is coming quickly, and that means our summer is speeding by and the days are already getting shorter again. I’m glad I also really love fall!

I know I’m as behind on summer yard and garden work as ever, but for some reason I feel differently about it this year. Instead of rushing through the garden and trying in vain to keep up, I’m enjoying my time there more. I still don’t like weeds, but I’m appreciating the healthy rows of vegetables and the flowers blooming in bright nooks and corners around the yard. I suppose it also helps that I’ve been taking time to douse myself in bug spray before I tackle weeding or watering in the evenings!

Here’s a little look around.

  
   
 

  
I wasn’t kidding when I said we’re still behind on the weeds, though we’ve made substantial progress since this picture. Hopefully next time I’ll have some actual produce to showcase! 

Of course we’ve been busy making hay and farming, and those things must come first. It’s beautiful to watch the sun set over a hay field as the trucks and chopper work together to harvest the green rows. 

 

Summer can make for long hours, but that doesn’t mean we never get away. I’m a devoted Twins fan, and we got to spend a gorgeous afternoon with friends last week watching the Twins play baseball. I think this is the first time JR and I have been to a game at Target Field where they actually won. It was bound to happen eventually, right?! 

   
  

I hope you are also finding a good mix between work, fun, and projects this summer. What do you hope to get accomished before September? 

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100 Reasons to Love Dairy

I know I’ve said it a bunch, but I’ll say it one more time — June is Dairy Month! As a dairy farmer this is top of mind for me, but there’s something else to celebrate this year in particular. Did you know 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of National Dairy Council?

National Dairy Council provides resources for nutrition professionals as well as consumers about the many benefits of dairy foods. They are committed to a science-based approach, and they’ve been hard at work for 100 years. To celebrate this milestone Midwest Dairy Association is hosting a blog party of 100 reasons to love dairy. Many other dairy farmers like me will be linking up too, and we’ll each share 10 of our own reasons to love dairy. You can see mine below. Be sure to check out the main post here along with some of the other farm blog links. 

10) Calcium. I know this important mineral is nearly synonymous with milk and dairy foods, but it’s still worth a mention. Strong bones are important no matter what your age, and dairy foods can help build and maintain them.

9) Ice Cream. Yes, this sweet treat gets its very own reason. Whether a sundae, a malt, or a hand scooped cone, sometimes you just need frozen, creamy goodness. It’s a good thing ice cream month is right around the corner in July!

 

8) Ears and Noses. Well, someone had to say it! Dairy cows are a vital part of the dairy industry, and their big floppy ears and wet noses are an endearing feature if you ask me. Also — eyelashes.

 

7) Chocolate Milk. Kids love it, and adults should too. It’s got the perfect blend of carbs and protein to refuel and hydrate your body after a workout, plus it’s full of great vitamins and minerals. At the end of a long run (or an afternoon of farm work) I can’t wait to mix up a glass and drink up. 

 

6) Rural way of life. Dairy animals and the milk they produce have been an important part of rural communities and economies for centuries. While most people can’t have a cow or two in the backyard anymore, dairy farming is still a way of life for thousands in rural America. And as farmers we are very proud to help provide fresh, nutritious dairy for you and your family.

5) Curiosity. No question about it, cattle are curious creatures. If you have a few free minutes to stand among the herd it doesn’t take long before one is licking you and another is tasting your hair. They might chew through twine if you think it will temporarily close a gate, and they are always wondering about farm dogs. 

 

4) Taste. A cold glass of milk is delicious, and I enjoy Greek yogurt nearly every day. Sour cream is a necessity in our house, and butter is better with everything, right? Quite simply, I love dairy because it tastes delicious. You may think I’m forgetting cheese, but just give me a moment…

3) Cheese. With the huge variety of types and tastes I believe cheese needs to have its very own reason. I cannot begin to count all the ways I love cheese. I also can’t pick a favorite between sharp cheddar, pepperjack, chèvre or Brie, not to mention cream cheeses and cheesecake.  

 

2) Cow and Calf. New life is a beautiful thing. It never gets old watching a mother cow care for her newborn.  

 

1) Family. Family is important to us all, and in the dairy community I think that holds even more true. So many dairies are multi-generation family businesses, and often two or three generations work together to care for animals and land. As farms grow they may support additional employees and families and the positive traditions and values continue. I myself am a sixth generation Minnesota dairy farmer, and dairy is at the heart of my family. 

  

How about you? Share with me one or more reasons you love dairy! 

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Grandma Cow

I haven’t done a check-in with our blog cow, Henrietta, in quite awhile, but now seems like the perfect time.

Yesterday afternoon Etta became a grandma! Her oldest daughter, Sophia, became a mom to a white bull calf. Mom and baby are both well. They even posed nicely for newborn photos. I’m guessing baby looks more like his father because he definitely isn’t as black as his mom.   

 

She wasn’t due until June 19th, but she still had quite a big calf. I’m guessing he would tip the scale around 100 pounds.

I was thinking about how this generation interval may seem quick to some of you, but compared to other livestock it’s actually much longer — think chickens, pigs, or sheep. Cattle also live a lot longer than other livestock, and it’s neat to watch cow families build and grow over time. That’s something I particularly enjoy about dairy cattle. Ever since I was a small 4-H kid showing my first calf I have loved to keep track of and watch my calves becomes mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and so on.

I told Etta the news myself, and she didn’t seem as excited as I was. Maybe that’s because she’s spending energy growing another baby of her own. Yes, Etta is due with her next calf in early November.

 Here she is relaxing in a stall this morning. If you want a little more background on the blog cow (formerly the blog calf), check out the Meet Henrietta page.  

Posted in Baby Calf Care, Cows, Henrietta (Etta for short!) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Normal

Summer is cruising along, and sometimes I wonder how everyone has time to do “all the fun stuff.” Social media is the modern culprit showcasing vacations, fishing trips, immaculate yards, and general adventures. Somehow it’s easy to buy into the idea that smiling faces against a summer sky always equal happiness  — perfection even. And while I certainly hope my friends are happy in their photos, I know real life is more than that. I know it with my head anyway. Most people don’t post a picture of their messy kitchen or the disaster in the back yard even though these are just as real as the smiling faces on vacation.

I’m pretty sure it’s not just a modern problem either. Before social media there were still photo albums, magazines, travel shows, and even handwritten letters. It’s woven somewhere in human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side. My feelings tell me I’m the only one living in hopeless disaster while everyone else carries on like a Better Homes and Garden special feature. 

But stop — wait a minute!

Don’t I also put my best forward for others to see? Could someone else even be envious of my little spot in the world inspite of my sink full of dirty of dishes and the endless work hours of the last few days?

   
   
The real issue isn’t about what I have or what you have or what we both don’t have. It’s about being grateful wherever we are and supporting others instead of worrying about whether they are better off. 

We just finished our first cutting of hay at the farm last night — with several break downs along the way — and right now I am tired and I feel behind. I know my to-do list is large, but I needed to write this today to remind myself to be thankful. The most fulfilled people I know don’t have easier circumstances or more things. They do have an attitude of positivity and gratefulness. 

Nobody does fun stuff all the time, even when our culture and endless media dares us to believe otherwise. It’s normal to feel down sometimes. But when I let God keep my heart in the right place, it’s then I can find beauty and joy are present in much of what I do. (Even when it looks like a rainy mess!) 

  

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June is…

Happy June, readers! 

I hope summer is starting on a positive note for you. In the midst of barbecues, graduations, and enjoying the water at the lake or ocean, I want to remind you that June is about agriculture too. Believe it or not, America has recognized June as Dairy Month since 1937. (It’s also Turkey Lover’s Month, and I’ll get to that soon.) I don’t expect you to do anything crazy like get a pet Holstein for your yard — unless you want to — but maybe you’d like to enjoy some extra milk, cheese or ice cream? 

I was asked to share my thoughts on dairy month for Midwest Dairy, which represents dairy farmers in the heart of the country from Minnesota and the Dakotas to Missouri and Arkansas. You can read my story here.

  

If you compete in races or workouts during the summer heat I’d also like to recommend a tall glass of chocolate milk. It’s my drink of choice when I’m marathon training or just working hard outdoors. Because it’s dairy month I think it is also a fair time to mention that other non-dairy “milks” just don’t have the same nutritional benefits. For example, almond milk, which I see more and more fitness-minded people choosing, has almost no protein. Dairy milk actually has 8 times more protein than almond milk! Calcium is naturally occurring in dairy milk and dairy foods, and I tend to think naturally occurring nutrients are the best kind. 

Besides chocolate milk, I have some other go-to snacks. A few of my favorites are Greek yogurt with fresh fruit like cherries or berries, or pepperjack cheese and deli turkey with raw veggies and crackers. Sometimes I think I could live on cheese and crackers. Speaking of turkey, June is indeed Turkey Lover’s Month. While I love putting beef on the grill in summer, turkey is also a great summer choice. It’s especially tasty in turkey salad or other sandwiches when you don’t want to heat up the house. And my friend Lara just may have convinced me to try Fajita Turkey Burgers with her latest post. 

No matter what’s on your plate this month, I hope you take a quick moment to think about the farmer who raised it. We’re grateful to you for choosing our products, and we wish you a wonderful summer. 

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