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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.

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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!!

My son has autism – Now What??

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My youngest child has autism.  He was officially diagnosed 6 1/2 years ago.  Like many parents, I KNEW something was not right with our youngest child.  He was not progressing and developing like my older 2 children.  He was exhibiting  the signs of autism I had read about in Parenting magazines and books.  While I was slowly coming to the realization of the challenges that were ahead, my toughest challenge was getting a confirmed diagnosis.

What happens when you get the “Official” diagnosis??  Well, if you are normal, you start to google everything you can about autism and how to fix it.  You probably buy the Jenny McCarthy book(s) that talk about her son.  You might join a few Yahoo groups to find comfort in numbers.  You can cry, yell, feel sorry for yourself, drink too much one night, and just basically try to do anything to wake yourself up from this nightmare.

I did all those things.  None of them worked and a few of them left me feeling like a truck ran over me.  When I realized that the answers did not lie with Yahoo groups or Google (Jenny McCarthy too), the real work began.  I have been working with different doctors, teachers, and mentors for 6 years to try and find the best treatment plan for our son.  It has not been easy and the work will never end.

If you have a child diagnosed with autism, the best thing to do is find someone who is on the same journey as you.  The news reports 1 in 88 children is diagnosed on the spectrum.  If that number is true it will not be difficult to find another family in the same situation.  Find a family that is using different ideas for treating autism.  I recommend staying away from those who advocate no vaccinations and ADD or ADHD medications.  Our son is on a Gluten, Dairy (I know the irony :-)), Soy, Nuts, Egg, and Legume free diet.  He also takes supplements each day to make up for those important vitamins and minerals he lacks.  Is everyday great??  NO.  But it is better than him screaming ALL day.  As I said, it is a journey and it is paved with lots of ups and downs.  You just need to ride out the lows to get to the highs.

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Joey and his siblings. Most people who meet him would never guess he is autistic.

 

5 “Stupid” Myths about Organic Dairy Farming!!

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I want to address 5 myths about Organic Dairy Farming and why I believe you are stupid if you believe and REPEAT any of them as truths.

1.  A cow or calf gets sick – you just let her die. Are you serious??  All my cows have names and personalities and are very important to me.  I look forward to playing with the calves when I am feeding them and I am sad when they grow up and leave my barn .  I have a conscience.  I have feelings.  I have a heart.  Prevention is the best way to prevent my cows and calves from getting sick.  I do everything possible to prevent them from getting sick.  This includes vaccinations, clean bedding, and good calving environment.  BUT, if one of my babies does gets sick and it is necessary to treat her with conventional medicine, I do it.  It is a tough choice to make but I do it because it is the right thing to do.  Unfortunately I must remove her from our operation and this is the last thing I want to do.  So bottom line – I DO NOT HAVE COWS OR CALVES LAYING AROUND MY FARM DYING BECAUSE I WILL NOT TREAT THEM.

2.  Organic milk is more nutritious than Conventional milk.  While I wish this was true, there is no scientific evidence concluding organic milk is safer or healthier than conventional milk.  The only reason I wish it were true is because it would increase the demand and increase organic milk sales.  But to date there is no evidence supporting this claim.  Organic Milk is a choice.  A choice similar to Hemp bedding sheets versus Cotton Bedding sheets or Organic Cheerios versus Regular Cheerios.  Just a another consumer choice.  

3.  I am an Organic Dairy Farmer because I am a “Hippie” type gal and this is how I live my life.  WRONG!!!  The 2 reasons we transitioned to Organic Dairy Farming.  1- We have the ideal climate, topography, and farm to successfully pasture milk cows.  2 – It is easier to “ride out” the volatile conventional milk prices received at the farm.  I love Starbucks, Kate Spade purses, all things Disney, and drive a SUV.  YIKES!!  Not the “HIPPIE” lifestyle at all!!  We want to stay in Western Washington and run our 4th generation farm.  This is possible because we are organic.

4.  Our cows must be lower quality, lower producing, and overall inferior animal compared to the conventional cow.  NO WAY!!  I am happy to share my kids are super involved in several dairy shows in Washington State and I am happy to report our animals are competitive.  It is all about cow care.  My son has won multiple fairs with Grand Champion Holstein, Grand Champion Jersey, and my daughter has done very well with her 2 Brown Swiss and holstein.  We work very hard to prepare these animals and the awards prove we have animals that can compete!!

5.  We completely embrace the “Organic” life.  We live in Washington.  Pot is Legal!!  However, that does not mean that we have decided to embrace this questionable lifestyle.  I guess if we could figure out how to grow and sell Organic Pot we may think about it.  But as I read more and more stories about Pot growers in our state getting robbed because they can not deposit any of the money they earn from their business, I figure the risk is just not worth it.  For me and my family, we will stay with milking cows.  Someone else can capitalize on the organic pot market.

I hope I have cleared up a few myths about Organic Dairy Farming.  It really is not that complicated and I love what we do.  

 

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