Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Real Conversations

If the drought has brought one positive thing, it's the conversations. Suddenly, agriculture is in the news  pretty much daily. People are paying attention to challenges farmers face on a daily basis.

I've noticed lately that people want to talk about how the weather is affecting our livelihood. People who seemingly didn't care in the past are asking questions. Finally, some real conversations about agriculture are happening.

It's sad that it takes a natural disaster to begin these conversations, but nonetheless, I'm grateful they're happening. Food doesn't come from a factory; it comes from hard-working individuals who deal with ups and downs like everyone else.

Take a few minutes to say a prayer for rain this evening. While you're at it, bless the men and women who are wondering what tomorrow will bring on America's farms and ranches.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Faith on the Farm

This spring has been full of warm weather and sunshine... and breezy temperatures and snow! Some times in Ohio, it's difficult to predict what Mother Nature will bring tomorrow. When you are banking your whole year on having a successful crop, it's essential that you have faith. 

Our corn is in the ground, and our soybeans aren't far behind. With favorable weather conditions and a little bit of luck, we hope to have a successful harvest in the fall. This summer, as you drive down the road, watch the crops progressing through the various stages of growth, and say an extra prayer for the farmers. They have unending faith, but a little extra support never hurt.

Here's a shot of our soybeans during last year's growing season.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mooooove your vocabulary up a notch

I had a student tell me the other day about the "cow" they were taking to the fair. They were explaining how it they had castrated it over the weekend. I held up my hand and said, "Stop right there." I knew that this student was in fact not telling me about a "cow," but instead they referencing a "steer." What's the difference? Funny you should ask! Here are some words that will help you sound more intelligent the next time you're standing around the water cooler. 

Calf: A young animal of the cattle species (Our calves stay in individual pens at an early age, so we can provide specialized care for them.)

Heifer: A young female that has not yet had offspring (This is Greg's heifer, Barb. Heifers live together in groups on our farm.)

Cow: A female that has had at least one calf (These are two of our lovely cows enjoying a balanced ration.)

Bull: An intact male that is capable of reproducing (This picture is courtesy of NREL. Bulls are used for breeding.)

Steer: A castrated male (Iowa State Extension gets the credit for this picture. Steers are most often raised for meat.)

There you have it: five words you can use to impress your friends with your knowledge of the cattle industry!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Non-Vegan Cow Cake

Allen turns 53 tomorrow. We got together to celebrate his birthday today. I (Rose) was in charge of bringing the cake.

I knew a while back that I wanted to bake some sort of cow cake. I mean, he's a dairy farmer, he loves cows. I started Googling "cow cakes" to find inspiration. I wanted to find a picture of something someone else had created and pattern my own cake after it. Alas, I found the perfect image! I followed the link to a website with more directions. And then, I gasped. The image was on a Vegan blog. 

I was at a crossroads. On one hand, I really liked how the cake looked. On the other, I couldn't help but wonder if using a Vegan blog as inspiration was like making a deal with the devil. After days of deliberation, I decided I would use the vegan cake as a model, but I would be sure to use extra butter in my own recipe.

So, here's what I did. I whipped up a marble cake mix and baked it in two 9 inch round pans. (Did you know that you can substitute milk for the water in a cake mix to make an extra moist cake?!)

Next, I plopped the first cake down on the cardboard circle that I planned to serve the cake on. I freehanded a cow head and two legs on wax paper, and cut through the wax paper with a knife. 

Then, using my trusty Wilton cake lifter, I lifted up the cow head and set it aside. I took the second 9 inch cake and placed it on the cardboard circle. I put the legs aside on a small plate. 

I placed the head on the "body," put the legs in place, and crumb coated it with frosting. (If you've never decorated a cake, this is a layer of frosting that you put down to hold the crumbs in place.) I also traced the mouth and some spots onto the body with a toothpick.

I used regular buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting. The chocolate frosting is easier to turn black, since it's already a brown color. I used star tips and a regular round tip. I used the Wilton buttercream recipe:


  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening (I use butter! It has great flavor!)
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • 7 tbs milk (You can use water, but the milk has a rich flavor. Plus, it supports the dairy industry!)
Combine shortening and vanilla. Add sugar and milk. Beat at a medium speed until light and fluffy. 

Ready to see the finished product? 

Non-vegan approved ingredients used in the cake and frosting:
  • 3 eggs in the cake
  • Milk instead of water in the cake
  • Butter in the frosting
  • Milk in the frosting
So, there you have it, my alternative to the cow cake found on the vegan blog. I've never had vegan cake, but I can tell you this conventional one was pretty tasty!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Some dairy goodness

Tonight I whipped up some cookies. You're probably wondering what these have to do with the blog title. Well, it's as simple as two things: butter and milk, both wonderful products that come to us courtesy of hardworking dairy cows. 

These cookies are probably the easiest, fool-proof cookies out there. My secret to success is taking them out of the oven before they're completely baked, and letting them set up on the cookie sheet. It helps keep them soft. I also highly recommend butter over any other kind of shortening. Of course, I also suggest enjoying them with a cold glass of milk. Try them for yourself!

Chocolate Chip and M & M Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • Chocolate chips (as many as you like)
  • M & Ms (as many as you like)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until mixed thoroughly. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly add flour mixture. Beat until mixed through. Add chocolate chips and M & Ms as desired. Place onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool.

As you enjoy the cookies, be sure to say a quick thanks for dairy farmers who care for their animals each day to make yummy dairy products possible for your family!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Rose's niece and nephew recently spent some time visiting. Their favorite activity at Aunt Rose and Uncle Greg's house was visiting the cows, of course!

You'll have to excuse the mud. We've had so much rain this fall/winter, and it doesn't appear to be freezing up any time soon. 

To share in our visitors' experience on the farm, visit our Facebook page

Friday, January 6, 2012

What's in a name?

Every baby needs a good name. The young heifers on our farm are no different. I just finished naming a bunch of calves. All of our cows are registered Holsteins. Soon after the young females are born, we submit their registration papers our breed association. As part of this process, we select names for each of them. 

Tonight, I picked out names for three: ear tag numbers 1113, 1117, and 1121. To make sure I selected the perfect name, I started by looking at their dams' names. (A dam is the mother cow.) 1113 was born to 927, Paula. Paula hasn't had any other heifer calves. In other words, 1113 doesn't have any sisters. Paula's dam is Panda, so it seemed like we should stick with a P name. After browsing some websites with baby girl names, I selected Paisley. Mostly, because it's a cute name, but I personally wouldn't select it for a child.

Next up was 1117, the daughter of 199, Ronnie. Ronnie already has a daughter, Robyn. Obviously, 1117 was going to be a "R" girl. As a kid, I loved reading the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. 1117 is now officially Ramona. 

Finally, 1121 was born to Robyn, Ronnie's daughter. I guess if you want to get technical, that makes Ramona her aunt? I needed another R name, so I selected Roxy. I bet she'll be spunky. 

If you've followed along, congratulations. If not, don't worry; it can get tricky keeping track of all of these ladies. I'm glad Diane keeps good records!

Moral of the story, every baby needs a good name. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Back at 2011, Looking Forward to 2012

I have a confession to make: I need to blog more. I know, I know, shocking. Some times it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of what's going on here and there, and I forget about our dear old blog. As 2012 begins, I vow to blog more often. Looking back on last year, however, I'm borrowing an idea from Will at The Dairyman's Blog. I know the suspense is killing you, so here are our top three blog posts of 2011.

Number 3- So God Made a Farmer (February 6, 2011)
Paul Harvey aired this poem on his radio show. Although it wasn't included in the original blog post, here's a YouTube video:

Number 2- Century Farm (December 24, 2011)
For Christmas, Allen and Diane learned about the dairy farm's heritage and how their own family has been impacted by the legacy they're leaving.

Number 1- Let's Talk About Sex (April 17, 2011)
What can we say? Sex sells. This post talked all about artificial insemination and it's role on a dairy farm.

Thanks for reading our blog. We hope that you can learn something and maybe even share a laugh. From our family to yours, here's hoping for a prosperous 2012.

History is in the making

In the song, History, Matthew West sings, 

"Every choice that you are making
Every step that you are taking
Every chain that you are breaking
History is in the making
Every word that you are saying
Every prayer that you are praying
Every chain that you are breaking
History is in the making"

In our last post, we talked about the Ohio Century Farm project and how we had traced back the history of our farm as far as the deed records go. It was such a neat project to see how "history is in the making," right here on our family farm. Here's a quick look at our farm's 175-year history.

The first record of the dairy farm in the county recorder's office is in 1837. In this year, Barbara Swalley deeded 80 acres of our farm to her son, Solomon. Barbara originally came to Ohio many years before, when she and her husband settled near Zanesville. Her husband met an early death, and she traveled back to her home state of Pennsylvania with her young children. Research shows she came back to the Lykens area in the early 1830s to be near family that was already here. When her son got married in 1837, she passed the land on. One of the most interesting things about this deed transfer was that Barbara couldn't write. Her signature is indicated by an "x" on the deed, with a notation by the recorder saying that he witnessed her mark. As a female who loves to write, this particular point struck a cord with me. Among our many blessings is our access to education, which both men and women in the 1800s didn't always have.

Solomon held on to the land until 1840, when he sold it to Samuel Hall. We were not able to find a relationship between Solomon and Samuel, but we did find that Solomon only one child, a daughter. It is likely that there was not an immediate relationship between the two. 

Samuel Hall only had one son, who moved out of the area. In 1866, he transferred the deed to Lambert Myers. Lambert had an interesting story. He only owned our farm for one year, because in 1867, he and his wife moved to Missouri, where they eventually died. By 1867, he had acquired 120 consecutive acres, which he split between three people before moving to Missouri: William Tippin, Mary Seery, and J.H. Barrow. 

William Tippin was married to Frances Seery, the sister of Mary Seery. William obtained 53 2/3 acres of the farm from Lambert, while Mary bought 26 1/3, and J.H. Barrow got the remaining 40. When William passed away in 1889, his nephew, Jacob Seery, administered his estate. He transfered the deed to Samuel Dewalt. We'll come back to him in a second. In 1901, Mary Seery passed away, and her sister, Frances Tippin, administered her estate. Mary's 26 1/3 acres were sold to Frances's son-in-law, E.L. Mesnard. E.L. was married to William and Frances's daughter, Alta. 

It is unclear why E.L. sold his land to Samuel Dewalt in 1901. E.L. is buried just a few miles north of the dairy farm, so it's not probable that he left the area. Irregardless, by 1901, Sam Dewalt now had the 80 acre parcel, in addition to several hundred acres that are not part of our farm today. 

Sam Dewalt was married to Mahala Shock, and they had several children together, including a daughter, Hattie. Hattie later married Marvin Hartschuh, Allen's grandfather. In 1940, Sam passed away, leaving his estate to his children. Hattie and her husband Marvin purchased the dairy farm, where we still milk today. Hattie passed away in 1976, leaving sole ownership to Marvin, who owned it until his death in 1997. Allen and Diane had been farming the land since 1982, so in his will, Marvin gave first option to buy to Allen, who has owned the farm ever since.   

In case you weren't able to follow along, what this lineage of deed transfers shows is that Sam Dewalt acquired part of our farm in 1889. Sam was Allen's great-grandfather, making Greg, Brian, and Jason the fifth generation to farm the same land.

Our research was a great way to better understand the legacy of family farms. There is so much pride and tradition that goes into farming, and we're blessed to be a part of it.