Take the Time

Time. People. These are things we all take for granted. In an instant it can all be gone. Accidents, illness, lack of judgement. All these things can be taken away.

I’ve had a sad realization lately perusing some agricultural groups I’m in. We simply ignore time.

“I can’t I have cows to milk.”
“No picnic for me I have a farm.”
“He spent our whole anniversary in the field.”
“What’s one dance recital, we have hay to make.”


Important people in our lives can easily be pushed aside with the notion that they’ll always be there. They understand.

Holidays, life milestones, precious time with family, often overlooked.

We need to slow down.

I am well aware there’s a time things have to be done in. I grew up on a dairy farm. I’m raising my children on a dairy farm.

I realize every event won’t be attended. Every anniversary won’t be pomp and fanfare.

Here’s the thing. Let people know they’re appreciated. That they mean something to you. It’s as simple as a text or a phone call. Attend the dance recital or bring some coleslaw when you actually attend the picnic.

We are a busy people. Life gets crazy and hectic. But please, don’t assume you always have time to spend with the people that love you.



The Strength of a Dairy Mom

Being a mom is hard enough. Being a mom living on a dairy farm throws in a whole new set of twists and turns.

I recently asked a group of fellow dairy mothers what they think some of their biggest challenges and rewards are.

Take a minute to glimpse in to the lives of these amazing women!

Erin Michels
Mother of 3 (ages 10, 7 and 3)
Milking 120 cows in Illinois
“When the laundry is piled high and all I have is paper plates to serve our made-from-a-box dinner on, I think about how we live the most blessed life. I’m a dairy mom and a dairy wife. We live the dairy life every single day!”


Katie Harris
Mother of 3
Milking 350 cows in Washington
“Most challenging is trying to find time! Time for kids, housework, farm work, sports and then maybe some sleep?”
“Most rewarding is definitely the life style. I wouldn’t trade this for anything no matter how crazy it can get!”

Char Martin
Mother of 2 boys
Milking 74 cows in Ontario
“Most challenging is finding a happy balance juggling dairy life, marriage, kids, meals, household chores, play and oh yea..sleep!”
“Most rewarding is our family working and playing together! Every day is teamwork.”


Lisa Shearer-Yoho
Mother of 2
Employee on a 250 dairy farm in Ohio
“I’m a single mom of 2 working on a 250 cow dairy farm. We also have an assortment of animals at our house. My daughter is 18 and graduates with FFA honors in May. My son is 7 and in all the sports he can be in! I juggle working 3rd shift 6 nights a week along with baseball, karate, basketball, bowling and FFA by myself. Honestly I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”


Amanda Williams
Mom to 1 (13 months)
Milking 50 cows in Wisconsin
“I’m fairly new to being a mom and farming full time. My little guy is 13 months old. I never went back to my day job, starting the transition process on my grandparents farm. My husband works off the farm and most days it’s just me and Wade (son) by ourselves. Most challenging for me is balancing work between the barn and the house. Also newborn feeding, nursing, pumping while doing the field work last spring!”
“Most rewarding is not having to send Wade to daycare and he is growing up in the life I love! His love for animals and tractors is plain to see.”


Corrine Banker
“My house is my biggest challenge. When the kids were younger it was a lot easier. Even though I worked off the farm, I wasn’t really “needed” on the farm or expected unless it was crunch time. It was easier to keep my house clean! Now the kids are gone and the dogs have free access to the house this time of the year.”
“I’m also full time on the farm now. We are building another another milking cow barn, making improvements to a heifer barn and planting spring crops. My house is the lowest of low priorities, not to mention I hate cleaning!”
Corrine’s Mother’s Day present to herself:
“I finally broke down and hired someone to help me keep the house clean (she comes the first time Monday!) I told her my problems, hesitations. I also told her I don’t want a spotless house, just not an embarrassing one! She wants me to make a priority list of what I want most importantly and as we get more cleaned up she will do deep cleaning. I am SO EXCITED!”


Sarah Brandt
Mom of 3 (ages 4, 2 and 6 months)
Milking 60 cows in Iowa
“My barn is cleaner than my house and we eat way more McDonald’s than we should. But I would say my biggest challenge is making more time on a regular basis for my daughter who doesn’t like the farm. She tells me she’s not going to be a farmer or milk cows like me.”
“My most rewarding part is accepting and tackling all the challenges of being a farm mom.”


Amie Sprinkle
Mom of 9 (ages 1-17)
Milking 90 cows with her parents in Ohio in addition to raising produce and processing poultry
“My biggest challenge is not getting overwhelmed. So many fires to put out! I just try to take care of the hottest ones first. The work is without end. It’s easy to get down about it when I think too much instead of just pushing ahead.”
“My biggest reward is watching my children turn into confident, capable people. I don’t think my kids will continue to farm as adults, but their time here now is preparing hen for life.”


Eline Van Der Veen
Mom of 3 (ages 6, 4 and 11 months)
“My biggest challenge is my house. It’s always a huge mess and can be incredibly embarrassing! I swear our barn is cleaner. The kiddos drag in mud, sand, wood chips, cow hair, rocks and all kinds of other things that don’t belong in a house!”
“My greatest reward is watching my kids grow up vs sending them to daycare and not seeing them. My heart melts when I see them interact with the animals and seeing how much they love them! I love when my 11 month old gets excited seeing cow. Even if it’s only in a picture book.”


These women and many others leading the hectic life in dairy are incredible. Facing life’s challenges head on, while still finding this crazy life rewarding.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women reading this today! Bless us as the women we currently are, bless the women who helped shape us and bless the little women we are raising to be the next generation of strong dairy women. ❤️

When The Tooth Fairy Forgets To Show

I love being a parent. If nothing else it allows you to live a little vicariously thru your kids. It can bring a whole new sense of magic to the holiday’s. Santa, the Easter Bunny, all the fun people.

One person who struggles at our house is our dear friend the Tooth Fairy. 

Emma has lost a LOT of teeth very quickly. She’s 7 and just a few short days ago lost her eighth tooth. 

She laughs she looks like a pumpkin with her mouth open.

While this child can brighten anyone’s day, she comes with an extra sprinkle of drama. Especially when it comes to tooth loss. To sum it up quaintly, she’s nearly fainted before when losing one. Yes, nearly hit the ground over tooth loss. 

Thursday morning, thru some tears and hyperventilation, she extracted the latest one. After her melt down over blood loss and excruciating pain (SHE pulled it), she tucked it under her pillow. Of course this was all before the bus came to add to morning chaos. 

By no means do I claim to be a perfect mom. The tooth fairy has slipped up before. After taking in a little Thursday night TV, I may have fallen asleep on the couch. I may have forgot to remind the tooth fairy to appear. 

Friday morning was doused in disappointment, frustration and tears before I even was aware of my slip up. After a mental breakdown (on her part) and some expressed disgust in the breakdown (on my part). Emma dropped the truth bomb. The tears were on me. 

Well poop. 

So… we crafted a nice little gift bag for our dear winged friend. Complete with so much it had to go in a baggy. 

A note requesting foreign coins, a comic strip from a lunchable and the lost tooth. It was carefully tucked under her pillow. And she trotted off to the bus. 

Friday evening was our elementary schools fun fair. Chaos, running kids, I had volunteered to run a few games. We all came home tired. 

I may or may not have fallen asleep on the couch. Again.

I may or may not have neglected to exchange a gift bag for some currency.

I may or may not have woke up off the couch at 5 am having a mini heat attack because I realized that darn fairy hadn’t arrived again. 

I scrounged around the house for a dollar. Coming up short handed everywhere. Finally I found the right pair of pants in the laundry pile that still had my husbands wallet in them. (Empty pockets before laundry? Unheard of.)

So I snagged $2. An extra dollar for interest and a strong case of mom guilt. 

I crept upstairs to quietly exchange the goods. Pulled out the baggy, slid in a note, explaining that because Emma was the first stop tonight as to avoid any possibility of missing her, the tooth fairy had no money from far away lands. And left the cash. 

Success! The tooth fairy didn’t strike out two nights in a row! 

Eight years ago I wouldn’t have imagined myself creeping around in the wee hours of the morning, crafting notes from imaginary fairies, giving too much money for lost teeth. Yet here we are. Welcome to parenting 😉

Dye Different

We normally have a constant abundance of eggs. We have a slight chicken problem (you can read about here or here). The great thing about having a yard full of chickens is they turn bugs and table scraps in to eggs. 

I think that one in the bottoms right corner is a double yolker!

Next week Peter Cotton Tail is going to be hoping down the trail to hide eggs. Not wanting to buy eggs when I already had a refrigerator FULL of eggs, we dyed brown eggs. 

If you have never dyed brown eggs it’s super simple. Actually it’s just the same as white eggs. We did need to leave ours sit in the dye a smidgen longer. But the colors are so much deeper. 

We always just use the McCormick coloring guide to mix our colors. All you need is water, white vinegar and food coloring. 
Break outside the box this year. Find some brown eggs to color! 

Quick Crock Pot Meals

It’s getting to be that time of the year. Field work is going to begin, many beef herd and seasonal dairies are calving, school sports are picking up. We are all looking for quick week night dinners! A recipe ranks even higher for me if I can chuck it in the crockpot and forget about it for the day.

I’ve compiled a handful of quick, minimal prep crock pot dinners. Please forgive the lack of pictures, I’ll add them in sometime. But the following are some tried and true quick crock pot go to’s I use.

Grape Jelly Meatballs

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs
  • 1 jar chili sauce
  • 1 small jar grape jelly

In a bowl combine the jelly and chili sauce. Place the meatballs in crock pot. Pour sauce mixture over top. Cook on low for 5-7 hours.

I like to serve these with cheesy potatoes (some places referred to as funeral potatoes) and coleslaw. They also go great in sub buns when on the run!

Nacho Cheese Chicken

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can fiesta nacho cheese soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Place the chicken in crock pot. Combine the soups and garlic powder. Pour over the chicken. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

We like to serve this over noodles or rice.

Hamburger Stroganoff 

  • 2 pounds of browned hamburger
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 envelope of powdered onion soup
  • 16 ounces of sour cream

Mix the burger and soups. Cook on low in the crock pot for 4-6 hours. Before you are ready to serve stir in the sour cream.

We like to serve this over noodles, rice, toast, baked potatoes, pretty much anything! AND it’s a must green beans have to be your veggie 😉

Ham and Beans

  • 1 pound of ham
  • 1 pound of white beans (rinsed and sorted)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small onion diced

Put all ingredients in a crock pot on low for 8 hours.

This is great when served with cornbread!

“Taco” Meat

  • 3 pounds of meat (I realize this sounds generic but I have used chicken, roast beef, pork roast, venison. All have had great results)
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 16 ounce jar of salsa

Place your choice of meat in the crock pot. Sprinkle the seasonings over the meat. Pour the jar of salsa on top. Cook on low for 8 hours (the longer the better if a roast). Shred the meat.

We have served this in tacos, sandwiches, just by itself with sides. I’ve also repurposed the leftovers in to black bean soup!

Just because it’s that time of the year when we’re all running around crazy, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to eat a decent meal here and there. Hopefully these recipes can help make your life a little easier this spring!

Ensuring Milk is Antibiotic Free

When a cow is sick she generally needs medicine to feel better. Did you know that once a cow has been treated (received medicine) her milk/meat cannot enter the food system until ALL of that medicine has left her system? 

So what do we as farmers do to ensure that the milk/meat you buy is free from antibiotics and other medicines? Here are important steps we take at our farm to keep your food safe.

Immediately when a cow is treated she receives 2 red Velcro leg bands. Red means STOP. This is a fairly universal rule in any milking parlor. 

Red means STOP!

These 2 simple bands allow everyone to know that her milk cannot go in to the bulk tank.But she still needs milked. Her milker will now hook up to a separate  bucket. This way the milk she gives until her  withdrawal (the time it takes for medicine to leave her system) is over can be dumped down the drain. 

The pail her milk goes in to every milking until her milk is “good” again.

All medicine comes with a mandatory withdrawal time. It varies from medicine to medicine and has been established from many trials done by veterinarians and scientist.

We are required by law that ALL of our medicines are clearly labeled with the withdrawal times. Regardless if they are purchased over the counter or a persciption is required.

It’s important to keep track of all the medicines a cow is given. This way she can continue to receive care accordingly and we know when her milk can be sold again. For ease of communication we have a large white board that hangs in our parlor to record any treatments given. 

The note on the board has her name/number, the date when she was treated, what medicine she received as well as the day and shift (am/pm). 

This is not a very long standing record. We have a computer system where we enter all of our medical (as well as many other) records. Medical records are available on any of our animals that cover the time they were born until the leave the herd. 

The cows identification number, medicine given and date are entered in to the records system. If you happen to enter a cow is leaving the farm before all of her withdrawals are done the computer alerts you. This is another great tool! 

Farmers work diligently to keep the food you buy safe. Every load of milk is checked for antibiotics and other medicines before being unloaded to be processed. Over 3 million loads were checked last year (that’s a lot of milk!). Out of 3 million loads there were only 371 loads that tested positive. These loads had to be dumped. 

You can buy your milk at the store with confidence knowing several steps have been put in place to make sure you are buying the safest and tastiest milk possible! 

Girls Can Be Farmers Too

You’ll only like spending time with cows until you find boys. 

I’ll never forget the day our vet told me this. I was in middle school and loved spending time with the cows. It hit me hard. 

With one of my girls, Pala, back in my younger years.

While it’s true that the average little girl doesn’t dream of growing up and being covered in cow poo daily, there’s plenty of girls who dream of living in the barn. 

Farmers are often envisioned as men. Agriculture is predominantly a male occupation. However, more and more women are declaring farming/ranching/agriculture as their main form of income. 14% of farms have a female principal operators. 

Being a female farmer never easy. Some people have a preconceived notion of what a farmer should look like. Most of these descriptions don’t involve a mom wearing yoga pants and a messy bun. Few things can be as disheartening as having a sales rep stop by only to ask to speak to your husband or father. 

Generally no one questions if a man can drive a tractor, pull a calf or AI (artificially inseminate) a cow. “You know how to that?” is not something that is asked to often of male counter parts.

Packing silage this past summer.

Women have a growing presence in agriculture. As more and more young women decide to cement a career in agriculture (be it sales,production, engineering) the gap we have with our male counterparts lessens. 

AND if you’re a young aspiring girl who wants to farm, here’s my piece of advice. Don’t listen to that old vet. There’s boys who like farming, that love girls who farm too 😉


The outlook for agriculture is currently not a stellar one. Prices are less than mediocre and many are hanging on by a string. In some cases a string that’s fraying. 

A strong US dollar is limiting our exports. We are striving to make advances to benefit us but are being financially limited to do so. Agriculture runs on a boom and bust cycle. I think many are aware we are currently in the later category. 

So why do we stay? 

 A Way Of Life

It’s hard  to find another occupation quite  like farming and ranching. For many of us it’s not only a way of life, it is our life. Our homes sit on our farms. Often times multiple generations have been raised inside the walls. When a farm sells everyone is literally up rooted. Not many other businesses have this to deal with. 


Much like a way of life, farming can be a family tradition. You don’t often hear of multi generational doctors, landscapers or contractors. You’re hard pressed to walk on to a farm or ranch and not see 2-3 generations working together on any given day. Let alone the number of generations that set the precedent. 

The Future

A love of the land and passion for agriculture is easily passed from one generation to the next. We are submersed in farming quite literally as soon as we’re born. Often with the hope that we stay and continue on with what has happened before us. Improving upon what was left in our care.

A life in agriculture is not for the weak nor weary. While we are so heavily depended upon, we are often overlooked. Times may be tough, but one way or another farmers and ranchers will find a way to persevere. 

Apple Enchiladas

This household enjoys a good dessert. We also favor anything wrapped up in a tortilla. Enter in to our world Apple Enchiladas. Apple pie filling, wrapped in flour tortillas and covered in a super easy caramel sauce.

Apple enchiladas are a super easy, sweet treat. All they take is a few minutes of prep work before a quick bake in the oven. They are delicious. Like I’m talking life changing. 

Apple Enchiladas 

  • 2 cans of apple pie filling
  • 8-12 flour tortillas (depending on size)

Warm tortillas in the microwave so they are easily pliable. In ours it was a quick 30 second spin. Times will vary. 

Fill tortillas with apple pie filling. Be careful not to overfill so it can still be rolled. I like to tuck my ends in then roll the tortilla. Making a neat little packet. Arrange in a greased 9×13 pan. 

Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Cinnamon to taste (I use around 2 teaspoons)

Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Boil until mixture begins to slightly thicken (1-2 minutes). Immediately pour over prepared apple enchiladas. 

Ok, now if you have self control, they are best if you allow them to sit for an hour. This allows the tortillas to soak in the carmel-ly goodness. That being said I have no self control. I pop them in the oven immediately the vast majority of the time… 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. The tops of the tortillas will begin to lightly brown. 

I like to serve these with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Both equally as delicious! And a tasty side note: these are even better the next morning after sitting in the fridge overnight. Not that I would recommend dessert for breakfast or anything….

Reduce, Reuse, Recyle

Lately an article drifting around social media has been causing quite the stir among some. A semi truck and trailer overturned spilling mass quantities of skittles. These skittles were intended to be used as cattle feed.

A snapshot of our cows eating at the feed bunk.

The whole thought of cows eating a sweet treat was foreign to most people. Here is a great thing about cows, they are amazing recyclers! If these skittles didn’t find a way to be repurposed they’d be destined to go to a landfill to rot. 

Cattle are able to use many products in their diets that would otherwise be thrown out. These are called byproducts. A byproduct is something that is leftover from manufacturing of a product. Cattle are able to utilize byproducts from bakeries, ethanol plants, breweries and everything in between! It’s pretty amazing.

The great thing about byproducts is they are able to reduce the cost of rations. Generally they are cheaper and used in smaller amounts than more traditional feeds. Cows, just like humans have nutritional needs to be met in order to produce milk, gain weight and grow. With the help of a cattle nutritionists they are able to eat a ration that is balanced to their needs, with or without the use of byproducts. 

The grain our milk cows eat. We utilize byproducts such as distillers grains.

So what are some byproducts cows eat other than red skittles? 

Brewers Grains- This is mainly the barley (and some hops) left over from the production of beer. It’s very easily digested by the cows and is a great source of protein. 

Bakery Waste- breads, pasteries, cookies, etc that are left over from large scale bakeries. Often when it comes to the farm it is all ground in to small particles. This is a great source of additional far and starch in a cows diet. 

Beer Pulp- this is the part of the sugar beet that is leftover from sugar production. It adds fiber and allows less forages to be fed. 

Chips/Potato Waste- leftovers from potato chip factories can be a great source of starch. 

Distillers Grains- generally corn, barley and other small grains left over from the production of ethanol. 

Candy- the infamous skittles, funny bears, milk chocolate, gum drops, etc. All of these are very high in sugar and fat, enabling energy to be added to the cows ration.

Obviously a cow can’t live on candy and bread alone. Just like humans, a cattle nutritionist balances their ration. Together with traditional feedstuffs (silage, hay, corn, soybeans) a economical and efficient ration can be made! This is another way farms are being more sustainable and reducing waste. 

All that feed gets turned in to tasty milk!