Today it hit me like a ton of bricks… IT IS SUMMER!!! I know I am a little late to the party. I think you start losing track of school breaks and the seasons start running together when you don’t have kids in school. Also, this May has been unseasonably cold. We did get some much needed moisture! But today was sunny and 85 with a little New Mexico breeze (in other states that is known as a 35 mph wind). Today is also the first day with our newly renovated backyard! My husband and I (more him than me) have been working on adding a little patio in our backyard, and we put up a fence! YAY!! I know what you are thinking… “Crazy lady most yards in America have a patio and a fence.” But this momma is a little excited.
The first time I heard that, “Farmers, the original environmentalists”, it really stuck with me. Because isn’t that the truth?! Who would care more about the environment than people whose livelihoods depend solely on the land they live on? Yet, it always seems to surprise people (from both sides of the table) when I tell them I am an environmental dairy scientist. It is not a conventional role or job on a dairy. And it leads me to do a lot of explaining even to my husband and family. So what do I do exactly?
Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association Annual Convention. For one of the break out sessions, I was asked to present on our nutrient management program called CAFOweb. The Convention was held in Salem, OR. I had not been to Oregon since I was a kid, so I decided to stay an extra day and see some of the sites with my mom and daughter.
This work trip got me thinking. It is funny how dairy producers’ idea of day off is to go visit other dairies or attend a board meeting or an annual convention. I was talking with a friend the other day. She was discussing her husband’s first day off from the dairy in over six months. How was he going to spend his big day off? He was attending the High Plains Dairy Conference. Exciting, I know (seriously, I was bummed I missed it this year). Once when I was a kid, my family took a two week vacation. We started in Southern California and drove all the way to Washington. I am sure when most people think of that trip, they imagine driving up the coast enjoying the views and hitting the hot spots like San Francisco. Nope, not my family. My parents thought it would be fun to take two kids (ages five and two) to every dairy in California, Oregon and Washington. One last example, my husband and I recently traveled to Chicago for the our co-op’s annual meeting. What to do the day after the meeting? Enjoy the day in the city? Again no. We rented a car and drove a couple hours down to Fair Oaks Farm to visit the new swine facility (hey, at least we changed it up from a dairy!).
Highlights from exploring…
I cannot believe it is March! Even with that extra day, where did February go? I am a little behind on my blogging. I know one of the most important rules of blogging is writing your “About me”. But I published my first blog post about an hour after deciding to start a blog and having been playing catch up ever since. With winter storm Goliath, I didn’t get a chance to get all my “ducks in a row” before launching. So with this post I want to tell you a little bit about what I am involved in.
Over the last 5 years, I have had the opportunity to be a volunteer and now President of an organization called United Dairy Women. Over ten years ago, a group of dairy women realized there was a need in our community. We have two children’s homes in our area, NM Christian Children’s Home and Baptist Children’s Home. After talking with the homes, these women found out that the homes could not afford to purchase dairy products for their children. This came as some what of a shock since this is an area where there is an abundance of milk. These women made it their “Milk Mission” to raise enough money so every child could have 3 servings a day of dairy. Eleven years later and we have raised over $1 Million. United Dairy Women is an all volunteer, non-profit organization.
With Superbowl Sunday just around the corner, I wanted to share one of my favorite family recipes with you all. It is packed full of lots of amazing dairy products. And here in New Mexico, nothing goes together better than cheese and green chile. It is Gary’s Green Chile Queso Blanco. Gary is my dad! And he is a pretty awesome cook. (Hopefully he will let me share some more of his recipes!) I want to warn you…. this queso is addicting!! And even better than that, it is really easy to make. This is a great appetizer to make ahead. Then you dont have to spend all morning before the game prepping all your appetizers.
Cow loss. Calf loss. Milk loss. Lower production. Higher cull rate. Emotional toll…
Unfortunately, these were the topics of conversation yesterday, when we hosted New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez and her team at our dairy farm. Many local dairy farmers came out to discuss the repercussions of winter storm Goliath and how the State can help. Here we are 18 days after the blizzard getting use to our “new” normal. We all knew it was going to be hard, but it doesn’t make it any easier. We may be a little bigger than the average dairy, but this is our family farm. We have worked hard to raise our herd, only to have Mother Nature wreak havoc. Everyday I hear the same stories from heart broken producers and yesterday was no different. One producer’s story hit too close to home for most people in the meeting. He described the emotions he was feeling stepping foot on his dairy Monday morning after the storm. That morning one of his employees came up to him with tears in hers eyes and said “I am sorry for your loss”. And with that they hugged and cried. All his hard work, gone in one day. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
In the last week, we have heard a lot about the tragedies and losses from winter storm Goliath. They have been numerous and unspeakable. But today, I want to share with you some of the inspiring stories about how the community of dairy women came together to support their farm families throughout the blizzard. There have been many articles about the cows losses and the hard work of the dairymen, and they are true heroes. But many times the work of the dairy women or dairy wife goes unnoticed, and they do their work without a thank you. This is my THANK YOU to all of you.
WOW! I cannot believe the overwhelming response I have received from one simple post. I never would have guessed my post would reach over 15,000 people (and counting), receive hundreds of likes, comments and shares. Many of you have been encouraging me to share my experiences of life on my family dairy farm and this post finally gave me the courage to do that.