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Is Farm Life Reality??

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I love raising my kids on a farm.  My kids are learning to work hard, work together, as well a developing a good work ethic.  So many families do not have the opportunity to provide this for their kids.  With that said, the horrific massacre that occurred in Orlando drove home the disadvantages of farm life.  I spent quite a bit of time explaining to my kids not just what happened but why it happened.  Now don’t get me wrong, my kids do not live in a version of Disneyland.  Our farm definitely IS NOT the happiest place on earth.  My kids are very aware of the current political sideshow in Washington DC, the traffic nightmares in the Puget Sound, and the issue of unemployment in our local community.  They understand bad things happen to good people.

What happened Saturday night in Orlando was truly a tragedy.  Hundreds of families were affected and lives were forever changed.  Explaining the reason(s) of why this happened to a couple of farm kids was very difficult.  What makes it even more difficult is when I don’t understand why.  I can answer why the sky is blue, why my stomach hurts after eating a gallon of ice cream, or maybe even why some girl broke my son’s heart.  But this horrible display of hate and anger leaves no explanation.  Looking out my back window at a group of beautiful cows grazing in the sunshine does provide a little solace.  I pray for those in Orlando.  While I may not be able to explain to my children why this happened to you and your loved ones, I can explain and share the love and strength you are sharing with the world even during one of the most difficult times in your life.

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My “Normal” Day

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This past week, our family experienced one of those days I never want to repeat.  We run an organic dairy  – this means we feed cows, feed calves, milk cows…… the typical dairy farm activities.  But, we also lead a “normal” life too.  We have end of the year school activities (FFA Banquet, Art Fair, Science Fair), sports signups (New Select Soccer Team), ADAPT kid class (think after school PE), and it goes on and on…….  But we also have all regular things every family deals with every day.  A washer that decides to quit.  A toilet that will not quit running.  A hot water tank that decides today is the day it will quit (right before mom takes a shower).

This past week we had one of those awful things every family hates to experience……. the passing of a family pet.  We had an amazing little puppy “Arlo”.  We had the pleasure of loving and caring for him for the past 5 months.  Something very unexpected happened.  Needless to say, many tears were shed but the farm must go on.  As we dealt with deep emotional pain, we also had to run the dairy.

With these events, we also have the luxury of healing.  Yesterday, my husband, daughter, and son made the drive to Eastern Washington and found an amazing little yorkie.  My oldest stayed home and completed his “to do” list.  Many of his “to do” items were those things my husband would have done on any given Saturday.  We were lucky to spend the day as a family and bring home a new addition to our home.

Meet AJ – or “Junior” for short.  We look forward to many days with this newest member of our family.

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“Life Is Not Fair”

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I’ll be honest.  I have 3 amazing kids – one of the most common life lessons I have tried to teach my kids is “I do not care if life is not fair”.  Please do not come to me with the “It’s not Fair” excuse.  With that said, I must confess I had one of those “Life is not Fair” moments today.  Many a dairy farmer has watched a favorite cow give birth to a bull calf.  Normally this is just part of a normal day, the 50% chance of getting either a heifer or a bull.  For some reason a show cow takes on a different perspective.  Once she has been confirmed pregnant, you spend lots of time wondering and hoping if she will bless  the farm with a wonderful female offspring.  You try not to get your hopes up too much- but I will admit it is hard to not plan and think about all the great things that can happen when your daughter’s favorite brown swiss has a daughter.

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Meet “Stephen Curry”. A cute adorable Brown Swiss bull calf.

Let me introduce “Stephen Curry”.  He is an adorable little 100% Brown Swiss bull calf.  While he may cute as he can be, he can not permanently stay at our dairy farm.  Luckily we have some good friends who live nearby who adore and appreciate the brown swiss breed as much as we do.  “Stephen Curry” will move to their farm as soon as he is old enough (probably 4 months from now).  So in the mean time, every time I feed Stephen Curry I will quietly remind myself that “Life is not Fair”.  At least in this case.

Who loves Ice Cream??

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I had the best time Sunday attending the 2016 Seattle Ice Cream Festival.   The Dairy Farmers of Washington made a $500 contribution to sponsor this event.   It was so amazing to see so many people interested in ICE CREAM.  The Pacific Northwest is so lucky to have so many small artisan ice cream creators.  I knew this event was going to be popular, but I was not ready for the wall to wall people. I t was like Disneyland at Christmas!!  All I can say is as a dairy farmer, it was amazing to see so many people interested in ice cream.  I hope this event happens again because this dairy farmer will definitely make time to attend.

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This is Martha Marino and she is an amazing advocate for dairy!  We are so blessed to have her representing the dairy farmers of Washington.

 

A good nap – It solves everything!!

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I think the most difficult part of dealing with autism is trying to figure out what is going on in your child’s brain.  Even the most well spoken, brilliant, and smart adolescent child has trouble communicating at times their feelings and thoughts.  Imagine an autistic child.  We struggle every day with his behavior, both appropriate and inappropriate.  Every time there seems to be progress, something triggers regression and we just end up back sliding.  But for every failure, we need to focus on the success.

This picture highlights what we deal with each day.  Joey can “function” through most day to day activities.  But, when his brain has had enough, time to sleep.  He has been doing this more than usual lately.  Makes me wonder even more what is going on in his brain.  Until he can better articulate his thoughts and feelings, maybe a good nap is what his body needs.

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1st night at Swiss Kamp – Must have had a good day.

USDA Checkoff Program – What does it mean to farmers?

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Everyone remembers the “Got Milk?” advertisements, right?  Well, did you know this was a result of “checkoff” dollars from dairy farmers in California? Many people don’t realize this campaign was a result of checkoff dollars, so what are “checkoff” dollars? The National Checkoff program was established in 1983 by the Dairy & Tobacco Adjustment Act. It is a program whereby funds/assessments are deducted from producer’s milk checks for the specific purpose of building sales and demand for milk and dairy products.  The USDA oversees the checkoff program and plays a role in regulating consumer communication regarding dairy and other food commodities.

Where I farm, the Washington Dairy Products Commission and the Washington Dairy Council are certified by the USDA to carry out checkoff related programs on a local level. The Commission and Dairy Council collaborate with the national organization, Dairy Management, Inc. to build demand for dairy and protect the image of our industry. Checkoff dollars are used to:

  1. Build confidence in dairy to increase sales
  2. Defend our right to farm
  3. Create partnerships to build sales.  (i.e. Dominos Pizza and McDonalds)
  4. Stregthen community ties. (i.e. WIAA, NW Farmers Fighting Hunger)

As milk prices are forecasted to decline over the next 6 months, many farmers look to different assessments that are taken out of our milk check each month. While it would be easy to rationalize stopping the checkoff deduction, I like to acknowledge to my fellow dairy farmers the value of our Commission. While the work they do is not super flashy or spotlight grabbing, I feel it is crucial for our long term success as dairy farmers in the state of Washington. I also think it’s important to note that the Commission conducts year-round advertising and public relations, marketing promotions, issues management and crisis response initiatives, industry communications and public education campaigns directly mainly toward consumers.

So the next time you see a “Got Milk?” ad, remember dairy farmers are supporting this program with checkoff dollars. Our checkoff dollars are helping build and maintain a demand for dairy while building confidence in what we do.

National Pizza Week?? AWESOME!!

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I have 3 kids.  My 3 kids are all “double digits”.  This means they are ALWAYS hungry and when I get to Friday I am done.  As a dairy farmer, mom, taxi driver, volunteer at school…… I wear many hats and I am always going in at least 10 different directions. I do my best to prepare healthy nutritious meals for my family.  But I will be honest, by Friday I am dead tired and wishing the closest Fast Food place was not a 15 minute drive away.  Did I mention we live exactly 1/2 mile beyond the border of the local pizza delivery place. (You would think they would change that now that gas has dropped $2.00 per gallon).  Typically I treat Friday as a treat for my family.  This usually means pizza.  I can also manage to find Gluten Free pizza for my youngest who is on a special diet to help with his autism.  But now that I learn it is National Pizza week I will put my guilt aside and maybe do 2 nights of pizza!!  After all, it is a 3 day holiday weekend.  But for now, enjoy some pizza!!  Enjoy all that yummy cheese that was produced by some hard working dairy farmer!!

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Yummy!! Celebrate the 3 day weekend with some hot delicious pizza!!

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