Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fair Enough!

By Sarah Correll

It’s county fair season here in Indiana, and a lot of our friends have been having fun at theirs!

Jeanette shares memories of her 4-H fashion review days, and of her kids’ fair week, complete with a Hog Wrestling Contest.

Jent keeps her sense of humor as her kids show their beef cattle at their county fair and watches a tractor pull here.

Lindsay shares photos and memories of a fair filled with livestock shows that involved people of all ages.

Nancy shares about their day at the county fair, complete with ice cream and Ferris wheels!

Sarah’s daughters showed calves and pigs in the open class of their fair. Find the stories here!

What is your favorite thing to do at the fair?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Producing Nature's Most Perfect Food

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Wagler Farms was founded in 1950 when Henry and Frances Wagler moved from their Daviess County home in Southern Indiana to help start the Bean Blossom Mennonite Church.  “The original farmstead took on the image of many local farms in that era--167 acres, 18 head of cattle, 4 sows and a mess of piglets,” says Sarah Wagler. “ Sixty-two years, 8 children, 21 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren later, Wagler Farms is still focusing on producing nature’s most perfect food, wholesome nutritious milk.”  Wagler Farms is currently operated by Henry and Frances’s sons, Ken and Lloyd, their wives, Lesa and Crystal, grandson Justin, and his wife Sarah.  The Wagler family is dedicated to the care of their milk cows and is also passionate about adding to the picturesque rural landscape of Brown County.

Work on the 700 Holstein cow dairy farm is definitely a family affair according to Sarah. “Every single day our farm is a bustle!  Justin, Kenny and Lloyd are directly involved in the daily operations dealing with crops and animals.  You can find them doing anything from helping trim hooves to planting crops or making silage.  The jobs are endless on a dairy!  Lesa and Crystal maintain the operation’s financial records, while I work with tours and promotion.”

“On average, our cows provide us with 75 pounds of milk per cow, per day.  Our cows, employees, and ourselves work hard every day to provide families with over 6100 gallons of wholesome, nutritious, delicious milk.”  Since the cows work hard to provide milk 365 days a year, the Waglers work hard every day to ensure their cows are comfortable as Sarah explains. “In Indiana, we can go from one extreme to the next in the blink of an eye!  The ideal temperature for a cow is around 50 to 60 degrees, with that said, how often is Indiana a comfortable 50 to 60 degrees?  So, to help keep our cows cool and comfortable in the summer, we provide shade, clean and comfortable bedding, fans, and even water misters.  It is truly better than a day at the beach!  With those efforts in place, we can make a hot, humid August day into a breezy comfortable 75 degrees.  In the winter, we are also worried about the extreme cold for our cows like we are for ourselves.  Our milking cows are provided shelter that eliminates drafts, but still provides fresh air flow.  We even provide our baby calves with warm jackets to stay warm and cozy!”

When asked how she feels about there being fewer small dairies and more large-scale dairies Sarah explains, “I honestly feel that instead of size we should focus on quality.  In Indiana, we are blessed with diversity of size from 7 cows to several thousand cows.  The best part is, they are all focused on cow care and on providing consumers with a great, nutritious, high-quality product regardless of size.”

Aside from living on a dairy farm, Sarah also has the privilege of working with hard-working dairy families through her career with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).  “DFA is a milk marketing cooperative that markets members’ milk to the processing facilities.  I am a field representative for DFA and, honestly, do something different about every day.  I love my job because I get to work with great people, great farms, and help ensure a superior product is delivered to market.”

The greatest satisfaction Sarah gets from dairy farming, “It’s hard to pick just one, but I would have to say that at the end of the day, knowing our hard work and dedication is helping feed our neighbors near and far always puts a smile on my face!”

Interesting dairy facts:     
  • Indiana has more than 1200 dairy farms and 97% of them are family owned.  The average herd size is 129 cows.
  • Some cows wear pedometers to measure how many steps they take each day—time spent walking can be a sign of how healthy a cow is.
  • Indiana ranks second in the nation in ice cream production.
  • Milk travels an average of only 100 miles from farm to grocery store.
  • An adult dairy cow drinks nearly a bathtub full of water every day.
  • The average cow produces 90 glasses of milk every day and nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.
  • Dairy farming and processing contributes $810 million to the Hoosier economy every year and creates 8,220 jobs in Indiana.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Rock Salt (also called Ice Cream Salt)
Gallon Baggies
Quart Baggies

1 cup half and half (or whole milk)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Any additional mix-ins that your heart desires (cocoa powder, strawberries, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.)

1) Fill gallon size baggie half full with ice.  Generously pour rock salt over ice.
2) Pour half and half, sugar, vanilla extract and mix-ins in the quart sized baggie.  Seal tightly!
3) Place quart sized baggie inside gallon sized baggie and ensure both are sealed completely!
4) Shake, shake, shake!  Shake for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until ice cream becomes firm.
5) Scoop ice cream into your favorite dish or cone and enjoy!
6) Place any leftovers in freezer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Getting Cheesy on National Macaroni Day

By Sarah Correll
June 7 was National Macaroni Day, and the ladies of Real Farmwives of America and Friends sure know how to make some great mac and cheese! Check out their twists on the classic American dish.

A flexible favorite, Jent says her mac and cheese is amazing no matter what kind of cheeses you add!

Looking for a dish with some meat? Try Cris’ Ham and Cheese Skillet! Bonus: only one cooking dish to wash!

Mix it in the crockpot and walk away. This 4 Cheese Mac and Cheese from Jane only requires stirring two or three times while it cooks!

Use your leftover BBQ with Leah’s BBQ Chicken Cheesy Mac!

Dairy farmer Amy has tried a lot of mac and cheese recipes. She shares her favorite here

No matter how you make it, macaroni and cheese will always be a go-to comfort food!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Indiana Raise Beef

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

The Lawson family began farming in Boone County over 50 years ago when Donnie’s dad, Don Lawson began raising brooder chickens for laying houses throughout the Midwest.  Donnie and Tammy were married in 1985 and returned to the farm after graduating from Purdue University.  Their daughter, Kay Leigh, and her husband Jeremy joined the operation full time after their wedding in July of 2013.  The Lawsons also have a son, Clay who is in the Army.

The Lawsons raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa near Thorntown, Indiana along with their large beef cattle herd. Additionally, they run a finishing operation that cares for 500 beef cattle up until they are ready to enter the food supply.

Like all other farms, each family member has their own responsibilities or niche.  Tammy and Kay Leigh focus on managing the cattle, feeding, breeding schedules, calving and pasture management while Donnie and Jeremy focus on crops, trucking, and equipment maintenance and together everyone contributes to the daily surprise tasks that are omnipresent on a farm.

“Beef is nutritious and a great source of protein and vitamins.  Most cuts are low in fat and superior to many other types of protein,” Tammy says.  The Lawsons sell freezer beef and schedule processing upon request.

When asked what she wishes the public better understood about farming or the beef industry Tammy replied, “We suspect that most consumers are confident of the safety of their food, but it is always important to reassure them that our land and our animals require a large investment that has and will be passed from one generation to the next.  Healthy, wholesome and safe food is our commitment.”

Tammy feels that the greatest reward of farming is, “The combination of working the land, protecting the environment, managing the animals, caring for the calves, reaping the rewards from a long growing year or enjoying the outcome of a difficult calving season are all reasons why we farm.  We feel blessed that we were born in this industry.”

Visit this link for the recipe of a Lawson family favorite that is perfect for grilling on the Fourth of July.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Thousand Words

By Sarah Correll

Dorothea Lange once said, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” June 29 is National Camera Day, and we’re celebrating by sharing some of our favorite farm family Instagram accounts!

Jent, a crop and beef cattle farmer from Indiana, shares life on and off the farm.

Sharing images from over the over 1200 Indiana dairy farming families.

A Huntingburg, Indiana dairy farmer shares cows, kittens, and a side of life.

A current Purdue student, farm employee  and future farmer, Sam brings a little different perspective.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these accounts could be stacks of books. Happy browsing!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Farming is More Than All Right at All Wright Farms

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

It is hard for Alan Wright of All Wright Farms to put into words the love he has for his family and the wonderful feeling he gets when he works with the animals on their dairy farm.  Alan farms along with his mom, JoAnn, and father, Dan, as well as three of his brothers, Mark, Lon and Vince, in Delaware County.  He also has two other brothers and a sister who choose to work away from the farm. 

“Our farm has been in the family for a very long, long time,” Alan explains.  “We have been farming and milking at our present place since 1933.  Before that we farmed across the road where my parents live now.  We have been milking cows on this farm for over 29,300 days!  That’s twice a day every day!”

The Wrights milk around 180 cows, and they have an additional 15 to 20 dry cows.  Dry cows are cows that are about 8 weeks from calving.  The family farm hasn’t purchased any cows or calves since 1950!  “We raise all our heifers and they come back to be milked in our dairy herd when they calve at 24 months.  We feed out the majority of our bull calves as steers.  We also raise a few dairy goats for 4-H projects for our nieces and nephews.  These are for stress relief.  We enjoy being around them, “Alan says.

The farm is also made up of 1200 acres of soybeans, 1200 acres of corn, 125 acres of winter wheat and 250 acres of alfalfa hay.  “600 acres of the corn we produce is used to feed the cows.  All the hay is for the cattle, and the straw from the wheat harvest is used as bedding for the cows and calves.  We try not to buy any more feed than we have to.  We try to raise it.”

The milk from All Wright Farms is currently processed at either Dannon Yogurt in Minster, Ohio or Nestle in Anderson, Indiana.  The price of the milk stays the same.  Alan explains, “We are paid the same no matter where it goes.  The co-op calls the milk hauler who picks it up at our farm and tells him where to deliver the milk that day or week.  We don’t have any say about the matter.  They market it and find a buyer for our milk.”

Alan also sits on the board for the American Dairy Association of Indiana (ADAI).  “I was asked a few years ago to represent our milk cooperative (the co-op that buys and markets our milk) on the board of directors.  There are 18 board members from different co-ops who sit on the board.  Our job is to make sure the milk in Indiana is promoted in a way that maximum marketing opportunities exist.  We want the moms and dads to get their children doing ‘dairy!’  Each board member must be a dairy farmer producing milk in Indiana.”

Last month Alan represented all the dairy farmers in Indiana when he served as Rookie Milkman during the Indy 500.  Each year, during the greatest spectacle in racing, two board members from ADAI serve as the milkman and rookie each year.  “As the rookie, I got to hand a bottle of ice-cold milk to the winning car owner, Michael Andretti, and the winning crew chief in Victory Lane after the race.  It was a great thrill and humbling experience to represent not only the 1200 dairy farms in Indiana, but also dairy farms throughout the nation as the Rookie Milkman. 

“One of my favorite moments of the event was the chance to ride on the American Dairy Association of Indiana float in the 500 Festival Parade.   Ken Hoeing, who was the Milkman, and I got to wave and hold a bottle of milk for about 300,000 people to see.  It was so fun promoting the one thing that we both lovemilk!  Ken was such a great mentor for me.  He was always there to help get me through interviews and let me know what to expect along the way.  Next year, I will move up to serve as Milkman, and I will get to give the winning driver a bottle of ice-cold milk in Victory Lane.  Another board member will be chosen to be the Rookie.  I hope I can be half as good to the Rookie Milkman next year as Ken was to me,” Al says.

When asked what he wished the general public better understood about dairy farming, Alan said, “I wish they understood how much time and energy we put into keeping our cows and calves healthy and happy.  Each day we spend more time with them than we do our family.  That is why family is so important to me.  My kids still enjoy helping with milking and feeding.  You don’t get up in the middle of the night, 7 days a week to do the morning milking unless you love your animals.  It is not an 8 AM to 3 PM job, but rather a 3 AM to 8 PM job.  Once the love of dairy farming is in your heart, it remains there no matter what happens.  A retired dairy farmer (if there is such a thing) will always be a dairy farmer.”

Follow All Wright Farms on twitter: @AllWrightFarms

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Dairy Good Way to Start Your Day

By Sarah Correll

Did you know that diets that provide 3 servings of dairy a day can actually increase bone mass? Or that dairy product provide potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure? How about that regularly eating three servings a day of dairy is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes? Get a jumpstart on your health with this dairy breakfast inspiration!

A sneaky way to include dairy in your diet.

Feta, spinach, mushrooms, and sausage combine in a non-traditional breakfast treat.

Peaches and Cream French Toast from Two Maids a Milking

On the sweeter side of life.

If all else fails, grab a yogurt cup, cereal with milk, or a simple glass of milk on your way out the door.