Monday, June 25, 2012

From Dairy Farm to Grocery Store

By Abby Cropper, Dietetic Intern at Winners Drink Milk

Last month, I had the opportunity through the Indiana Dietetics Association Annual Meeting to visit and tour the Kelsay Dairy Farm in Whiteland, Indiana.  I’m a complete rookie when it comes to dairy farming.  So, I attended a presentation about dairy farms before we left for the tour. The presentation touched on milk transportation, milk processing/tasting, and milk labeling.  I had no idea about the great lengths that are taken to keep our milk safe and get it to the stores in a timely manner.  The whole process would not be able to happen without the hauler, the tanker, and the processing plant. I’m not quite sure why I never thought about it, but milk is the only food that is never touched by human hands! How cool is that?!

As I mentioned, these farmers and haulers put a lot of effort into keeping the milk safe. I could see that firsthand during the presentation and when I toured the farm.  The milking equipment delivers milk directly from the cows to a refrigerated holding tank.  When the milk comes out of the cow, it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the holding tank cools it down to 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Before this milk can leave the tank to go to the processing plant, a certified milk hauler tests the milk and the tanker truck is tested, as well. 

On the other end of things is nutrition.  We all have heard how nutritious milk is for the body.  The calcium, the vitamin D, and the seven other essential nutrients that help nourish your body.  But, how does the cow stay healthy to give us this milk?  Cows eat nearly 100 pounds of food and drink 25-50 gallons of water each day – that’s a bathtub of water!  Eating all of this food takes almost seven hours a day.  There was a nutritionist who designs the cows’ diet and changes it as needed.  As a future dietitian, I enjoyed learning this component of running a dairy farm.  For a cow to be able to produce that much milk and have her body stay healthy, I knew their diet needed to be well-balanced at all times. 

According to the USDA, 98% of U.S. dairy farms are family owned and operated, sometimes by multiple generations of the family.   The families deeply care for the land and the cows. The farmers are working constantly to provide us with safe, healthy products by keeping their farm and cows safe and healthy.  I have so much appreciation for the fresh milk that is put into our grocery store coolers each day.  What more could we ask for?  So, when you pour your milk (skim, 2%, chocolate, whatever!) be thankful for the hard working dairy farmers who got it to your table!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are leftovers safe to eat if they don't smell bad?

By: Mythbusters

Myth: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.  

Fact: Most people would not choose to eat spoiled, smelly food. However, if they did, they would not necessarily get sick. This is because there are different types of bacteria, some of which cause illness in people and others that don't. The types of bacteria that do cause illness do not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. For this reason it is important to freeze or toss refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days. If you are unsure of how long your leftovers have been sitting in the refrigerator, don't take the risk - when in doubt, throw it out!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Have You Met the Herrs?

By Kimmi Devaney of Winners Drink Milk

Steve & Abbie Herr
Dairy Farmers
Kendallville, Indiana

Why did you go into the dairy business?
            Steve is a 4th generation dairy farmer in his family.  He wanted to continue the legacy and likes the rewarding feel you get from being a dairy farmer.  David and Mary, Steve's parents, both grew up on farms and thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the agriculture community.  Dennis worked with his father, Emmert, until David graduated.  They then incorporated the farm in 1972.  It doesn't hurt that we all LOVE cows either!!

How does your family ensure your cows stay comfortable?
            Our cows have sand bedded freestalls.  Sand bedding is cooler and the cows love it!  During the summer the cows have sprinklers and fans in each pen. This allows them to stay cooler especially on those HOT summer days!  We also have a few pens that have cow brushes.  The cows love using them to get those itches that can't be scratched, and we love watching them use the brushes.

How many generations are currently working on your farm?
            There are 2 generations working on the farm.  David, Mary, and Dennis are the 3rd generation.  David does all the crop work and custom chopping for other dairy farmers in the community.  Mary is the bookkeeper for the farm.  Dennis is semi-retired and helps where ever it is needed.  Steve and Abbie are the 4th generation.  Steve is the herdsman and manages all of the employees.  Abbie is the heifer manager.  For the most part, we all know how to do all the jobs, so if an employee has an emergency we can fill in.

What do you love most about being in the dairy industry?
            We love being a part of something that is so vital to the general public.  We love that we get to work with animals!  We are now becoming more involved in helping put a positive image on the dairy industry for the consumers.  Being involved in such a rewarding industry gives you a great sense of pride!

What do you want the general public to know about dairy farming?
            Dairy farmers work hard to make sure the animals are well taken care of and as a result produce nutritious dairy products for consumers.  We also strive to send a safe product to the consumer.  We love our animals! Without them we would not be where we are today.  They give us a reason to get up every day and make sure they are healthy, fed right, and properly managed, so we can keep being a part of such a wonderful industry!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meet the Wallpes

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family’s Life

Benton County’s first ever Farm Family of the Year aren’t strangers to farming.  Lana Wallpe has a solid background in farming while Steve Wallpe is a third generation farmer.  Steve’s family ran a dairy farm for about 40 years.

One of the first things you would probably notice while visiting the Wallpe farm in Benton County are the windmills.  “We are surrounded by them,” Lana says.  Lana and Steve live there with their two daughters.  She likes them and feels they add a unique character to the land.  They farm 1800 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat.  They also have a feeder calf operation.  The calves arrive weighing 500-600 pounds and are fed out until they reach 1100-1200 pounds and then they are shipped off to market.

“We farm because Steve loves it and so do I,” Lana says. “I always knew I would marry a farmer.  Steve especially loves working with the cattle.  He has the intense work ethic of a farmer and the knack for mechanical tinkering needed to fix everything.  The satisfaction comes in watching crops and livestock grow, finding new ways to better what we are doing, and taking care of our land for generations to come.”

Lana isn’t afraid to help out on the farm.   She started out as cook, mover from field to field, and “fetcher of parts.”  Lana tells of a time when she went into an implement store with a piece of a corn stalk the length of the bolt she was supposed to pick up.  Once the girls started school, she began to learn how to drive the tractors and the combine.   She and Steve both feel it’s important to let their girls know that they can do anything their dad can do – age and size appropriate, of course!  She encourages them to ride with her in the combine and tractors so they know they can farm someday just like a boy could and the girls are getting more hands-on experience on the farm every day.

 Lana feels it is important to put a face with agriculture because “the media places more and more emphasis on “factory farms,” but the honest truth is most of our country’s farms are maintained and owned by individual farmers.  Whether we raise livestock or grow crops, we are families trying to earn a living and maintain the highest standards for the health of our animals and condition of our land.  There are great days and hard days.  We recently discovered that one of our 4-H calves died for no apparent reason, and our daughter took it very hard.  It’s important to know that there are smiles and tears behind each piece of grain and meat we produce."

Want to learn more about the Wallpes? Visit Lana’s blog to follow their day to day life on the farm.