Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Morning on the Dairy Farm

You've probably heard that dairy farmers don't get a day off. There are always calves to feed and cows to milk. In fact, usually when I tell people my husband is a dairy farmer, they raise their eyebrows, shake their heads, and respond with something like, "I don't pity you." or "I bet you never get a vacation."

Yes, dairy farming is hard work, but it's also very rewarding. I came across a quotation in a magazine recently that said, "Dairy Farming. Has there ever been a business more about family?" One of the best things about dairy farming is that family is engrained in every single thing we do. This is especially evident on Christmas morning.

What's a typical Christmas morning on the dairy farm like? There are still morning chores to be done. Our cows are milked three times a day, at 5am, 1pm and 8pm. Before Christmas can officially begin, the cows go through the parlor for their morning milking. While that is happening, the cows and heifers also get their morning feed. All of our cow feed is a rationed formula. It goes into a large mixer and is then sent up a conveyer belt into the barn (see our Facebook Album, "What Do Cows Eat?" for more on this topic.) In addition to the cows, feed is also mixed for the heifers (young females that haven't calved yet.) This process takes about two hours. During this time, the calves are also being fed their morning milk.

How many people does all of this take? Ideally, there is one person in the milking parlor, one person moving cows into the parlor, one person making cow feed, and two people feeding calves. On holidays, a great deal of this work falls onto our family, so our employees can enjoy some time off. See why dairy farming is a family affair? We must work together to ensure that all of the jobs get done and that our business runs as a smooth as possible.

Any other day, there will be jobs found and hands kept busy. On Christmas, however, we do chores and spend most of the rest of the day together as a family. This year, Diane hosted a wonderful noontime meal at her house, and we enjoyed fellowship with each other. Yes, dairy farming is a lot of work, but it also strengthens bonds as family, as we work side-by-side to care for our cows and earn a living.

Diane grew up on a dairy farm, and for 28 years, her and Allen have owned and operated our family farm.

Fourth generation of Hartschuhs to be involved with dairy farming. Left to right: Rose, Greg, Jason, Brian, Emily.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A couple cool ag videos

The facts in these videos are pretty astounding. America's farmers are an awesome bunch.

video


video

A Fall to Be Thankful For

I was just thinking tonight that it was time to log back in to the ol'e blog and update the world about our little piece of heaven here on the dairy farm. To my dismay, it's been almost three months since the last post! It's hard to believe that's possible. This fall has been like many before: fast and furious. In the midst of all the hub-bub, though, there's much to be thankful for. In the spirit of the holidays, here's a list of our blessings.

  1. American agriculture. It goes without saying that this industry is our nation's backbone and our family's passion. We couldn't imagine making a livelihood any other way. Even when the markets are down and the workload is up, agriculture is a blessing.
  2. Our family. Family and work are one in the same around here. Not a meal goes by that we don't talk about things around the farm. There's no better way to express love than by working side by side to accomplish a common goal.
  3. Consumers. It is so rewarding producing a product that is going to be enjoyed by families across the country. We do things right, because we also expect a high-quality product. It's a pretty cool feeling to go to the grocery store to buy a tub of Toft's ice cream and know that our cows helped make it possible.
  4. Our animals. Walking through the barn and petting a cow on the forehead is a pretty cool feeling. They are a lot of work, and it's not all joyful, but at the end of the day, we care for the cows like part of our family.
  5. The land. There's something about fresh-tilled ground in the spring that invokes a variety of emotions. Time flies, and in the course of a year, you can experience a whole life cycle as a result of the land. Planting, growing, and harvesting: the land provides for our family and for the world.
  6. God. He makes it all possible.
I apologize for the cliche' that is this post, but it's all heartfelt. It's hard to describe what we do to people outside of agriculture, but know that the intentions of farmers are sincere. We do what we do because we love it, and we couldn't be more thankful.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Most people associate "the most wonderful time of the year" with Christmas. I would beg to differ, however. Around here, fall seems to be a perfectly fantastic season.

Farmers' lives revolve around three main seasons: planting season (otherwise known as spring), harvest season (you might call it fall), and fixing-everything-that-broke-during-the-year season (yep, farmers even work in the winter!). Their livelihoods revolve around getting crops into the ground in a timely manner in the spring, caring for them over the summer, and taking them off in the fall. To many, fall is a celebration of the long hours and hard work during other times of the year.

We began taking off soybeans this week. Soybeans are a common crop grown in Ohio. In 2009, they were Ohio's largest commodity. One of the most important uses is as livestock feed. Livestock farmers and grain farmers depend on each other; the livestock farmers need the crops the grain farmers grow for feed, and the grain farmers need the livestock farmers so they have a market for their crops. There are other cool uses for soybeans, too: biodiesel and lubricants, foams, inks, and even crayons. One acre of soybeans can produce 82368 crayons!

But, back to why fall is an awesome season. It's hard to describe the pride that farmers take in their work. The blood, sweat, and tears that go into growing livestock and crops is not to be underestimated. We all like to see results, and farmers are no different. It's exciting to know that the crops you are taking off are a result of the time you spent planting, spraying, and scouting fields. It's a great sense of accomplishment to see those long hours pay off. Sure, harvesting crops takes time, but it's what we do, and we wouldn't trade it for a second.

All seasons are great on the farm, but we tend to think that fall is pretty darn wonderful.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another Dairy Recipe for You!

It's the little things in life, like the cool new blog designs from Blogger, that get you excited! Hope you like the new look of our blog page.

This week's dairy recipe comes late in the week, but it's a good one nonetheless. Kids of all ages will enjoy making ice cream in a bag. It's a perfect activity and snack for a hot summer day. Happy Dairy Month!

What you'll need:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes

How to make it:
1. Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
2. Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it.
3. Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
4. Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.
5. Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This Week's Dairy Recipe

Today's dairy recipe is courtesy of Meals Matter, a healthy meal planning website sponsored by the Dairy Council of California. Yogurt is a great way to get in a daily serving of dairy products, plus there are lots of options for flavors and brands. Try this Cherry Yogurt Parfait today, and you'll be on your way to having three servings of dairy a day!

Cherry Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients:

1 can Cherry pie filling, divided
16 oz Vanilla yogurt, divided
1 cup Graham cracker crumbs (about 16 squares), divided

Preparation:

Combine 1 cup pie filling and one carton of yogurt; place about 2 tablespoons each in six parfait glasses. Top each with 1-2 tablespoons of the graham cracker crumbs, about 2 tablespoons pie filling and about 2 tablespoons yogurt. Divide remaining cracker crumbs and pie filling/yogurt mixture between parfait glasses.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June is National Dairy Month!

Milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, butter, cottage cheese, whipped cream, coffee creamer, cream cheese...

The list could go on and on! June is National Dairy Month, and to celebrate, we'd like to bring a different dairy recipe each week. Did you know that nutritionists recommend three servings of dairy food each day for adults? Well, rest assured, there are lots of options to get your "3-a-day!" Today, we're sharing a favorite recipe. 7 Layer Taco Dip is a hit at parties and family dinners alike. Serve it with tortilla chips (we prefer Tostitos Scoops), and you're sure to please the crowd. This dip includes both sour cream and cheese, so it uses two dairy products in one dish!



Feel free to comment on this post and tell us what your favorite dairy products are!

7-Layer Taco Dip

Ingredients

1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
1 large tomato, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 (6 ounce) can sliced black olives, drained
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

In a medium bowl, blend the taco seasoning mix and refried beans. Spread the mixture onto a large serving platter. Mix the sour cream and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Spread over the refried beans. Top the layers with salsa. Place a layer of tomato, green bell pepper, green onions and lettuce over the salsa, and top with Cheddar cheese. Garnish with black olives. Chill and serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Time flies

I signed in today to see that it had been five months since we'd posted a blog. It's hard to believe that five months can come in go seemingly in the blink of an eye. I guess that old adage, "Time flies when you're having fun," really is true.

I've been thinking about what to post on this, the first blog post of the year. If you follow anything in the news about dairy farms, you know it's been a rough day to be a farmer. This morning, a video was released that showed cruelty on an Ohio dairy farm. It would be really easy to point fingers, but I think instead we should clear something up. It makes other farmers sad to see things happening on other farmers that clearly aren't right or humane. Myself, I shed a few tears for the cows in the video. It's awful to think that a human could physically induce chronic pain on another creature like that. It's not right. Here's the moral of the story, though: just because it happened on one farm, doesn't mean it happens on every farm.

I saw a story on the news not too long ago about a teacher that was fired for beating an autistic child. It caused sickness to watch the story. That one teacher's actions, however, do not indicate that all teachers treat their students that way. It's the same thing with farmers. One farmer's actions cannot cast a poor light on all farmers.

Our cows are our livelihood, and in many cases, they're part of our family. We are there when the calves enter the world, we care for them as they grow up, and we watch them maneuver their way through the circle of life. We want to take care of them, because it's our natural instinct. Farmers care.

When you flip on the news tonight, remember there's countless good stories out there for every bad one.