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.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: A Dairy Strong Family Business

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Tom and LuAnn Troxel own Troxel Dairy Farm in Hanna, Indiana in the northwestern part of the state.  They currently milk 130 cows, mainly Holsteins, raise about 150 younger heifers, and farm about 170 acres of corn that is all used to feed their animals.

Tom’s parents, Phil and Mary Troxel, started the farm that the Troxel family still owns and operates today.  Currently their oldest son, Rudy, works on the farm with Tom and LuAnn, along with one full-time and several part-time employees.  In addition to working on the farm, Tom also has a full-time large animal veterinary practice.  He typically milks every morning, oversees the animal care and much of the general operations of the farm.  LuAnn raises the young calves, manages the farm accounting and payroll, and is the office manager of the veterinary business.  Rudy feeds the cows, milks occasionally, and handles all the breeding decisions on the farm.

LuAnn feels there are several misconceptions about dairy farming.  “Many people are concerned about antibiotics in their food.  They sometimes think that their milk contains antibiotics, but it does not,” LuAnn explains. “Dairy farmers have many rules they must comply with when it comes to using antibiotics in animals intended for food or milk.  There are certain antibiotics that cannot be used at all.  Every dairy farmer uses a veterinarian to give oversight to antibiotic uses on their farms.  In addition, every single tank of milk is tested for antibiotic residues, and it must test negative before the milk can be unloaded to be processed at a dairy plant.  There are no exceptions.”  For more information visit here

The Troxels go to great lengths to make sure their cows are comfortable.  Their cows are bedded weekly with fresh mason sand. The animals also have access to automatic cow brushes where they are able to groom themselves. Curtains on barn openings curtail the wind during the winter months and they, when removed, allow fresh air to flow throughout the barns during warmer months.

The milk from Troxel farm is marketed through Foremost Farms USA and is often processed at Dean Foods in Rochester, Indiana.  “Most people don’t realize how quickly milk gets from our farms to the store.  Often, our milk is available for sale in the grocery store in only two days from the time it leaves our farm!  Also, there is a code on every gallon of milk, such as 18-1018”, LuAnn explains.  “The 18 tells us that the gallon of milk is from a dairy processing plant in Indiana, and most likely came from a cow in Indiana.”  For more information about where your milk is processed visit here

LuAnn says many difficult and rewarding elements are part of dairy farming.  “One of the most rewarding things is the opportunity to work together with our family members and have flexibility throughout our daily work.  Of course, chore times aren’t very flexible.But, other than milking and feeding, there is a great variety of work and detail and there’s always something interesting going on at the farm!  As a result of the difficult winter we just experienced, I would say that weather is often a very difficult challenge.  We can’t change the weather, but we can try to continually improve systems on our farm to deal with inclement weather.”

LuAnn is very passionate about the job they do at Troxel Dairy Farm.  “We are in the business of producing milk from our cows.  In order for a cow to ever get milk in her udder, she first must give birth to a baby calf.  So, much of the work on our farm is related to our cows getting pregnant, caring for pregnant animals,  delivering healthy baby calves, caring for baby calves, and supporting the lactating cow with plenty of comfort and fresh food and water.  It is our privilege to provide our world with high-quality nutritious milk and dairy products!”