busy

Summer Essentials For The Busy Girl

Short on time, but still wanna look good while you try to beat the heat?

I may be a farm girl who isn’t afraid to get down and dirty buuuuuut, I want to look good while doing it. (Well, at least a step up from the just-rolled-out-of-bed look). Being a dairy farmer that gets up at the a$$ crack of dawn doesn’t give you with much time to primp and polish in the morning; you gotta work fast.

I know what you are thinking, “Whaaaat? You don’t just wake up that beautiful?!”. Believe it or not, I have to paint my pretty on.

Over the years, I have found a few products and tricks that keep me looking presentable while I sling manure, deliver baby calves and shovel feed. You know, just the basic activities every girl wants to look cute at while doing.

Here are a few of my favorite things that keep me lookin’ fresh all summer long.

1. Aveeno Tinted Moisturizer

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I have reached that point in my life when I actually have to start worrying about sunscreen and wrinkles.

“You moisturize and spend less time tanning”, as Miranda Lambert sings.

That is one of the many reasons I LOVE this moisturizer. This tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 protects and helps hide skin imperfections.  It is super easy to apply in the morning and gives my skin a great, natural glow.  You can find it at just about any drugstore for  $13.99.

This moisturizer, some good mascara and a little blush (if you have the time), will have you lookin’ good and out of the house in minutes.

2. Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray

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If you are looking for a quick hair fix, give this stuff a try.  It works really well on my naturally wavy hair and helps hold curl and texture, even in the humidity.  Put it on damp or dry hair.

Bonus: it smells delightful.

It can be found at various drugstores for $5.99.

3. A cute bandana

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Whether you are running errands, heading to a neighborhood BBQ, or farmin’, you need a cute bandana.  It’s too hot for hats and ponytails can get boring. Tying a bandana in your hair is quick, effortless and super cute.  I have been rockin’ mine all summer long and love how it comfortably keeps my hair out of my face.

There are various ways to wear bandanas, see more here.

4. Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm

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I like to keep my lips moisturized, but I also like to have a little color.  A little lip color makes me feel more put together and polished, but I don’t have time to whip out some colored lip gloss or lipstick every ten minutes.

Baby Lips Lip Balm has been a lifesaver.

It looks just like any ordinary chapstick, but it adds color.  I love it because when I use it I look like some cool, low-maintenance chick just moisturizing her lips. In reality, I’m painting on my lips.

Now you know my secret.

There are a few different colors that can be purchased at any drugstore for $2.84.  My favorite shade is “Cherry Me”.

5. A fun pair of stud earrings.

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I don’t really have time to put on jewelry in the morning, nor do I want things dangling off of me while I’m trying to get stuff done.  But a fun pair of studs adds a bit of flair and are comfortable enough to sleep in and wear throughout the day.

You can never go wrong with turquoise. Just sayin’.

6. Good Beer

beer

Okay busy girl, it has been a long day.  You have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off; it is time to relax.

It wouldn’t be summertime without an ice-cold beer!

I have two summertime favorites that help me keep cool, New Glarus Spotted Cow and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.  You will have to visit Wisconsin to get your hands on some Spotted Cow (which would be totally worth the trip, by the way), but Summer Shandy can be found just about everywhere.

Cheers to you, busy girl!

What tips or tricks do you have that keep yourself looking fab when you are in a hurry?

 

10 Ways to Celebrate Dairy Month

“It is the most wonderful time of the year!”. June is Dairy month, do you know what that means? Time to celebrate cows, farmers, cheese and ALL things dairy related!  There are so many great ways to celebrate this month; here are a few! Most of these activities are kid-friendly; if you are looking for an adult version, just add booze.

  1. Host a game night featuring Dairy TriviaHere and here are some trivia questions.
  2. Visit a local dairy farm. If you live in a rural area or know a dairy farmer, pay them a visit!  I am sure they would love to show you around their farm and introduce you to a few cows. Be careful, they might put you to work! ;)

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3. Make fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. Here is a list of fun recipes.
4. Throw a Wine & Cheese PartyFollow the link for some great tips.
5. Attend a Dairy Breakfast on the Farm. Depending on where you are, you might have the opportunity to attend a dairy breakfast!  They are so much fun and great way to meet dairy farmers and their cows. Here is a list of Wisconsin dairy events going on this summer and here is a list of dairy events happening in the Midwest!

Photo by Cadillac News

Photo by Cadillac News

  1. Go out for ice cream or have an ice cream sundae bar at home.
  2. Try this yogurt smoothie recipe for breakfast or a snack.

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8. Go for a run or walk and then refuel with some chocolate milk.
9. Build your own pizza for dinner; Don’t forget the cheese!
10.Have a milk mustache contest and take silly pictures.

milkmoustacheThis oughta keep you busy, but if you are looking for even more activities, visit these pages:
National Agriculture in the Classroom
Dairy Doing More
Fuel Up to Play60

HAPPY JUNE DAIRY MONTH!

beef

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

Man, do I love me some Chinese food!  When I was in college, I lived right next to the best Chinese buffet-style restaurant.  Oh, the wonderful smells I would smell as I walked to and from campus.  As you can imagine, it was extremely difficult for my room-mate and I not to eat Chinese take-out at least once per week and it probably contributed to my weight gain.  But whatever, at least we were walking to class (That’s what we told ourselves, anyway).

Now that I live out in the boonies and I am miles away from a Chinese restaurant of any kind, I have to make my own Chinese cuisine.  Which is probably for the better because I can monitor my salt and fat intake and tend to eat less.  I like to throw around the phrase “tend to eat less” pretty loosely and still eat more than I should….

Anywho, here is a super easy and delicious recipe for Beef and Broccoli that will be perfect for dinner this week!  After all, May is Beef Month; support your local beef farmers! :)

Ingredients:

1-2lbs beef roast, cut into little chunks with fat trimmed

2 cups beef broth

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp. sesame oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp. flour

2 cups of frozen broccoli florets (or as many as desired)

1 cup sliced carrots (optional)

1 package of fresh mushrooms (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In the insert of your crockpot, whisk together broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic.
  2. Add the beef slices and carrots.
  3. Turn crockpot on low and cook for 5 hours or until meat is tender.

CAUTION: Don’t over-cook the beef or it will fall apart. Crockpot temperatures may vary, so you may want to keep an eye on the beef if it is your first time with the recipe. 

  1. Add flour and stir to create a thicker sauce.
  2. When you reach the desired sauce thickness, toss in the broccoli and mushrooms. Cook for another 30 minutes.
  3. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Three Myths About Food & Farming

More than ever, consumers have a growing interest in where their food comes from and how it is produced…which is great!  Folks should care about where their food originates from and it makes my job as a farmer so much more important. But, I don’t ever want consumers to feel “food shamed” or have fear when it comes to grocery shopping.  I always encourage people to seize the opportunity to visit a local farm and to get to know the farmers and their practices, but since that isn’t always possible, I blog. :)

I wanted to better understand my consumers and open up a conversation about food and farming.  With so many food buzzwords, Ag misconceptions and bad information on the internet, I think it is pretty common for consumers to have some concerns. So,  I sent out a questionnaire to a few of my non-Ag friends and did some creeping on social media to understand how consumers make their food purchasing decisions.  What I found led me to produce this list:

Three Common Myths About Food and Farming

Myth #1: Organic products are safer and more nutritious

The Truth: Organic products are just as safe and nutritious as conventionally grown products.

milk

When it comes to safety and nutrition, food is food. Organic is just another farming method, not a safety or quality term.  So what is the difference (besides price)? In my opinion, not much.  In fact, you might be surprised to learn that even organic farmers can use certified chemicals on their crops.   The chemical must be derived from a natural source rather than synthetic, but a chemical is a chemical.  There are different rules and regulations farmers must follow in order to be certified organic, but all farmers have the same goal.   Whether we choose to farm organically or conventionally, farmers are dedicated to producing safe, quality products and caring for the land. Here is an article written by an organic farmer that does a great job of defining organic practices.  Read this!

I support ALL farmers and understand that it takes all kinds of kinds to feed the world. I also understand that organic methods cannot yield the quantity needed to feed the growing population.  We cannot feed the world with just organic methods, nor can a majority of the population afford it!  It is all about consumer choice; no matter what your choice is or what you can afford, know it is safe.

Myth #2: Food with labels = greater quality.

The Truth: A label doesn’t mean diddly squat and for the most part, is nothing more than a marketing scheme.

label cow

“Grass-fed”, “Natural”, “free-range”, “Country”, “Home-grown”, the list goes on and on.  You have seen these labels, perhaps you even base your purchasing choices around them.  Truth be told, with or without a label all food is equal and comes from farmers who care.  These labels are marketing tools that influence you to pay more for a product with a label compared to one without.  (Cough, Cough, Chipotle)  These feel-good buzzwords lead consumers to believe that the product comes from loving farmers who produce a greater product and implies that the label-less products are of poorer quality or come from “mean, factory farms”.   In reality, a packaging label tells consumers little to nothing about where the product originated from or how the animals were raised.

For example, the cows on my family farm are not grass-fed, but I know for a fact that they are provided with plenty of space, feed, shelter and care.  I also know that ALL milk and meat is antibiotic free, but labels lead you to believe otherwise.  Buy what makes you happy, but don’t pay more for a silly label.  If you truly want to know how your food was grown or raised, ask a farmer.

Myth #3: Smaller farms are family owned and provide better care compared to larger farms.

The Truth: 93% of farms are family owned and operated.

fam

I think there is a misconception that large farms are run by men in suits that pack their animals into a barn and treat them like a commodity.  They have so many animals, how could they possibly provide proper care for each, individual animal?!

As a farm girl who grew up on a 1,500 cow dairy farm and who currently works with her husband and in-laws to milk 500 cows,  I know that farmers love what they do and pay close attention to their animals.   Farmers may choose to grow their herd and their business, but they take the necessary steps to ensure that every animal and piece of land is provided with proper care and attention.  For many, this means incorporating more family members or hiring employees, using technology to help monitor animals and setting up strict protocols. When your livelihood depends on the health and happiness of an animal, you take it seriously and do everything possible to run a prosperous farm.

There are bad farms that are small, good farms that are big and vice versa.  Size has nothing to do with it.  Most farms, no matter their size, are run by farm families who care for their land, animals, and community.

Knowing that consumers have a growing interest in animal welfare, many farmers have been participating in the F.A.R.M. (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) program.  It is a nationwide program that helps ensure consumers that farmers are using sustainable practices and treating animals with respect.

As a farmer, I want to thank you, the consumer, for caring.  Thank you for caring about the food you eat and the farmers who grow it.  Thank you for wanting to learn and grow with your farmer.  It is because of great consumers, like you, that keep me and my family in the business of doing what we love. 

Why I Farm

So often do we hear farmers say “Howdy, I am Farmer Brown from Wisconsin and we milk 125 cows and run 300 acres of land”.  Blah, Blah, Blah.  Farmers are really good at telling consumers what they do, but what we don’t commonly hear is why they do it.

Sure, it is always cool to learn how many cows your neighbor feeds and milks everyday or how many acres of corn he/she plans to harvest this fall, but wouldn’t you be more interested to know why they farm?  Wouldn’t you agree that it is easier to connect with someone when you understand their core values versus their business stats?  Farming is more than just numbers and trying to make a profit, it is a lifestyle.  Each farmer has their own set of reasons and values that drives them to work as hard as they do 365 day a year, and today I want to share my “why” with you. I will try not to get too sappy and sentimental on you

1. It is in my blood.

I was born into a dairy farming family and at a young age my sisters and I were on the farm feeding and caring for our family’s animals.

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I was lucky enough to work with and learn from, not only my parents and grandparents, but also my great-grandparents.  I was taught to be tough enough to take a kick in the leg from a rowdy heifer, but also to be gentle enough to care for newborn calf.  Strong enough to get through the bad days and how to find humor in them when you can.  I learned that a good night’s sleep comes after a hard day’s work and that to get respect, you have to give it.  It is the lessons that they taught me and the passion they showed me that made me want to carry on the family legacy of caring for the land and animals.  I farm because I want to make my family proud.

2. It is important.

People need to eat.  What I do everyday helps feed the world.

“My grandfather use to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.” -Brenda Schoepp

I know that my job means something and that I can help families all over the country and world.  I think it is really cool that what I do, what I work so hard for everyday, ends up on a dinner table somewhere and brings families together.  By caring for dairy cattle and producing milk I am able to provide nutrition for thousands of families.  I farm because I want to help people.

3. It is what I love.

I love that my job allows me to be outdoors and work with family.  I love that I get to care for animals.  I love that I don’t have to sit in a cubicle all day and that I don’t have to wait until dinner time to see my husband.  I love seeing my calves grow into strong milk cows.  I love that my cows can’t talk back to me. I love watching our fields turn from dirt to green waves of corn.  I love that my job requires brains and physical labor.  I love that I don’t have to do my hair every morning (Even though, sometimes, I still do).  I love seeing the fruits of my labor.  I love that I will be able to pass our farm onto our future children.  I love that every day is different.  I farm because I love it.

Long story short, I farm because I believe in hard work, agriculture and providing families with safe, affordable dairy products. I believe in family, love and passion and my job encompasses all of these values.  Why do you do what you do?

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photo 1 (14)

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Ahhhhh, what a perfect Saturday.  The sun peaked out and the temperature finally got up to 22 degrees.  It doesn’t sound like much, but after days of below zero weather, twenty-two felt like a heat wave.  It made morning chores much more enjoyable and the day oh so much better.  The pup and I went on a NEATure walk in the woods behind our house and then went home and made chicken and wild rice soup.  It was DE-lightful. :)  I thought I would share the recipe with you; it is fairly simple.  I took a bajillion pictures of my dog playing in the snow, but I did not take on single picture of the soup!  My apologies.

photo 2 (14) photo 3 (9)

Ingredients:

2 quarts of chicken broth

1 cup of whipping cream

1 cup of water

4 cups of shredded chicken

(I tore apart a rotisserie chicken.  It worked great, however I did find a few bones in my soup.  Ooops.)

1 cup of wild rice (uncooked)

1 package of fresh mushrooms

3 stalks of celery

2 carrots

2 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of flour

Season as you go with garlic, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper.  Or whatever else floats your boat.

Steps:

  1. Start by dicing up the carrots, celery and mushrooms.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the veggies and sauté until almost tender.
  3. Add chicken broth and simmer for about 20 minutes. Don’t forget to season!
  4. Next, add the cup of water and bring to a boil. Throw in the rice and chicken and reduce heat to simmer on high for another 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  5. Lastly, add the cream. Thicken the soup with flour.

BOOM.  You made chicken and wild rice soup!  I am a figure-it-out-as-you-go kind of cook, but this is good general recipe. I sure am glad we have some leftovers; the weatherman is saying 30 below zero with the wind-chill for tonight!  Yikes.

Milk Fever

Milk Fever.  No, it is not the intense craving you get for a glass of ice-cold milk or the belly ache you feel after competing in a milk drinking contest at the county fair.  Milk fever is a metabolic disorder caused by a low blood calcium level and is common among cows who are close to calving or recently gave birth.  We do our best to prevent the occurrence of milk fever, but occasionally it happens. In fact, it just happened yesterday.

Most  cases occur within one day of calving because milk and colostrum production drain calcium (and other substances) from the blood, and some cows are unable to replace the calcium quickly enough.  Other factors that put cows at risk for milk fever are:

  • Age. Heifers are rarely affected.  Older cows are at higher risk because they produce more milk and are less able to replace blood calcium.
  • Size. Fat cows have higher feed and calcium intakes putting them at risk.  That is why I always tell my pregnant cows to stay active while on maternity leave.  I have been thinking about offering cow yoga to the girls, but I doubt it will go over well.
  • Production. Cows that produce high yields of milk are likely to develop milk fever.
  • Dry Cow Management. The feeding management of dry cows in the 2 weeks before calving is very important, because it affects both the amount of calcium available to replace blood calcium and the efficiency with which the available calcium can be used.  We work closely with our nutritionist to formulate a specific ration to avoid milk fever.

We noticed 4054 was in labor and moved her into a calving pen.  Old 4054 was a textbook case of a cow with milk fever; she is an older cow in her 5th lactation, a bit overweight, and was a high yielding milk producer last lactation.  Like a said, a classic case.  On her way to the calving pen she fell down and wasn’t able to get back up, a common sign of milk fever.  Other signs include:

  • cold ears
  • low body temp
  • muscle tremors
  •  drowsiness.

Luckily this disorder is easily treatable and we were prepared.  My husband quickly began warming up a bottle of Calcium gluconate  and prepared to IV the down cow.  By administering calcium intravenously we were able to replace her blood calcium level and within minutes she was back on her feet.  Cows normally respond to the treatment very quickly.

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A couple of hours later 4054 gave birth to a healthy heifer calf and both are doing well today.  I am happy my husband and I were able to help this momma and  get her back to health.  Cows truly are domestic creatures and it makes me happy knowing we have a great herd of cattle that trust us to care for them and help them when they need it.