Category Archives: Farmer Profile

What’s a Farmer Eat For Breakfast?

We talk about it a lot – breakfast…waking up and fueling your body with a quality meal sets the stage for the day – and there is a great connection between good nutrition (including breakfast) and physical activity with improved academic performance among kids. Sometimes, rather than just talking about breakfast, it’s fun to see what other people eat and how the meal works into their daily routine…like dairy farmers…what do they eat for breakfast?

Brown Family

We caught up with Trent and Holly Bown – dairy farmers in central Utah to find out what a typical (and special) breakfast looks like for their family. Here’s what they had to say…

TRENT: “As far as my typical breakfast, as much as I would love for it to be pancakes and eggs with bacon, its not. It’s usually a bowl of cereal with a tall glass of milk. Getting three kids ready for school and out the door by 7:00am has diminished my breakfast time, but at least I’m still getting the milk in right?”

Even though Trent doesn’t have loads of time in the morning, he still manages a breakfast packed with energizing carbohydrates (cereal) and protein (milk) that keeps his body going until lunch.

If they have time, Holly whips up this hearty egg dish for her family. She says, “This a recipe that I use sometimes that we really like. It could be made in a dutch oven, or you can cook it in a crock pot over night.”

Overnight Breakfast CasseroleOvernight Breakfast Casserole

  • 6 slices bacon (but we usually use a whole package) / or 1 lb of sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (2 pound) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain bacon slices on paper towels and crumble.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat; cook and stir onion, red bell pepper, and garlic until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir potatoes into onion mixture. Spoon 1/3 the potato mixture into the slow cooker; add 1/3 the bacon and 1/3 the Cheddar cheese. Repeat layering with remaining ingredients, ending with cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, dill, salt, and pepper together in a bowl; pour over ingredients in slow cooker.

Cook on Low, 8 to 10 hours.

It can be a bowl of whole grain cereal and milk or a hefty breakfast casserole, just remember to start your morning off with breakfast and give your brain and body energy to start the day!

Want more breakfast recipes? Check out our Pinterest Page

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Filed under Farmer Profile, Human Nutrition, Nutrition and Health, Recipes

Raising A Family on a Farm

The Smith Family

The Smiths – Lewiston, UT

When you grow up in the city, thinking about growing up on a farm seems really different, almost like something out of a novel or a history book. Farm life carries a mystique of hard work and strong family values, early mornings, and the smell of fresh hay. Wanting to learn a bit more about what it is like to raise a family on a farm and how farmers teach their kids about work and values, I caught up with Oralie Smith. She and her husband, Jackson, are raising their 8 sons on their dairy farm in Northern Utah.

As one of 11 children, Jackson Smith grew up farming, and when the couple got married, they knew that having a large family was what they wanted. They felt that a dairy was a really good place to raise kids – good opportunities to be outside and work.

What are some of the benefits of raising your kids on a farm?

I feel like our kids have really learned how to work, and we’ve been able to teach them about managing money. Each of them has chores and there are real consequences to not getting them done – someone else will have to pick up the slack or the animals suffer for it, so it has taught them responsibility.

Our kids get paid for the work they do on the farm, which has enabled us to teach them about money from a really early age.

Money and financial discussions can be uncomfortable at any stage of life, how do you talk to your kids about money?

We just always talk about it. Our kids start out with age-appropriate chores when they are about 6 years old. At that point, I cash their pay check for them into small bills that they can count. I have them count the money back to me, and then we talk about splitting it up. 10% gets set aside for the church, half of what’s left gets set aside for savings and the reminder gets put into an envelope as spending money. When they are young, they are especially proud of their earnings and my little ones count out the bills in their envelope frequently. Sometimes they will spend it on something I would consider frivolous, but they have earned it and it is their money to spend.

Our conversation changes a bit when the kids turn 12. As their responsibilities change, their pay increases, but we also expect them to pick up some of their own expenses – things like fees / equipment for sports teams they are interested in joining, or more name-brand school clothes. Our goal is to teach them about paying for things that will become bills in the future.

When the boys turn 15 or 16, the conversation changes again as responsibilities include things like a car, gas money, school lunch…

Do you ever have tough financial conversations with your kids?

Absolutely! Sometimes big things happen. One of our sons had an engine blow up on his car, another got a traffic ticket, and another got in a little fender bender. This is when we talk about pulling money out of their savings account to cover these unexpected costs.

This isn’t necessarily a tough conversation, but sometimes it’s just tough for me as a mom. My boys reach 15 or 16 and I realize that they don’t need me much anymore – they have money in the bank, they can pay for their own dates, their car, school-related things. I guess that’s the point of all of this, but you always want to be a mom :)

Since your kids have a real and important role on the farm, how involved are they in other extra curricular activities like sports? 

All of the boys have played a little T-ball and soccer. If they express an interest in taking it to the next level, like wanting to join a traveling team, we’ll have a talk about priorities. If they make the sport choice, they likely won’t have time to work on the farm and earn money. Almost all of them have chosen the farm. The biggest thing for us is that we give the boys a chance to make their own choices. They are all into horses, and that’s something that keeps them on the farm.

The Smiths newest addition

The Smiths newest addition

I know your boys each have a dog. Can you tell me a little about that?

When our boys turn 8 years old, they each get a dog. Jackson really wanted each of the kids to have the opportunity to have their own animal. As a perk to living and working on the farm we supply all of the food for the animals, but each of our boys is responsible for caring for his own dog. Jackson has encouraged them to get a female so that they could breed her and sell the puppies to make money. As they get older, they usually get another dog for hunting. Now we have a bunch of dogs, but the boys have done really well with them.

Have any of your kids expressed an interest in coming back to the farm to work and/or raise their families?

Our oldest son just got married, so we are just getting to that point, but we start talking about this from the time they are young. If the kids want to come back to the farm, we want them to go away first, gain some life experience, learn about having a different employer than their parents, and bring something back to the farm that is new (i.e., a new way of feeding). Some of the kids have laid out a plan. Our goal is to have them come back to the farm excited with fresh and new ideas to keep the dairy progressive and able to provide for all of the families involved.

Do you run the farm any differently knowing that some of the kids may come back to raise their families?

We are always looking ahead and asking ourselves the question: ‘When the kids graduate, how will the farm benefit them and their families in the future.’ I think that helps keep us from getting stagnant and set in a rut. We always want to be progressive.

Do you feel like you have any unique challenges to raising your kids on the farm?

I don’t think we do. Whenever I talk to friends, whether they live in the city or on another farm, I recognize that we all experience the same issues as parents. We all try to teach our kids how to be appreciative, how to work, how to pick up things. I don’t think we are any different.

Smiths feeding calves

Farm Chores – Feeding Calves

But what about the fact that you have 8 boys, how do you manage just the day-to-day household chores like cooking and cleaning?

Laughs…We have to buy a lot of food and we have really big pans! Sometimes if I bring brownies to a social function, friends can’t believe the size of the pan. But likewise I look at their tiny pan and wonder who that would feed!

As far as laundry – I try to take care of all of it during the week so I can take the weekend off.

A favorite recipe that is always a hit at BBQs:

Baked Bean (Or 3 Bean Casserole) 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb browned hamburger
  • 1 onion
  • bacon (optional)
  • 1 can pork and beans
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans or garbanzo
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard

Method:

Add everything to crock pot and cook until thickened and hot; usually a few hours on low. This recipe can be doubled and will still fit in a large crock pot.

Note: Can add green pepper if desired and can also mix in different combinations of beans

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Kristi Spence, VP Communications Dairy Council UT/NV conducted this interview. Though she has been living in Utah for the past 10 years, and working for dairy farmers for the past 4, Kristi grew up in Los Angeles.

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Filed under Farmer Profile, On Farm Education, Recipes

Why We Appreciate Our Cows

In honor of “Cow Appreciation Day,” we caught up with some of our contributors and local farmers to ask them, “Why do you appreciate your cows?” Here’s what they said:

Chace Fullmer

“I’ve never not had cows…don’t know what it would be like not to have them. Our cows are the reason I get up every morning – to try to do something to make their lives better.”

Chace with Calf

Chace Fullmer with Newborn Calf

Braden Anderson

“I love working with cows and making a lot of them pets. I enjoy taking my cows to the shows and getting them ready for the shows. I’m appreciative of my cows for the wholesome product the produce. I’m grateful for how they produce our livelihood.”

Braden Anderson

Braden Anderson

Katharine Nye

“Cows were my first friends. When I’d go to work with my parents when I was very small, playing with calves and watching as my parents worked among our herd were my daily activities.  Cows have been a mainstay in my family, and they are a legacy that my siblings and I are working to continue. Our cows work hard for us: taking care of them brings me joy, and knowing that my cows provide the world with a safe and delicious food is just the whipped cream on top!”

Katharine with Calf

Katharine and a young calf

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The Modern Dairy Farmer

In many cases, dairy farming today looks different than it used to: barns are more efficient, cows’ diets are now formulated by a dairy nutritionist to match the exact needs of the herd, cows are monitored more closely than ever before for health, movement, and milk production, safety has improved, genetics play a big role in herd health… Yet, the people behind farming are the same.

I heard it summed up well by a farmer recently:

While the proverbial red barn might not be today’s norm,  those red barn values are still the core of what drives dairy farmers.

What are red barn values? hard work, commitment, family, animal care, and environmental stewardship (just to name a few). But who are today’s dairy farmers? Here’s a quick snapshot.

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How Do Farmers Treat Their Animals?

A couple weeks ago, I decided to go home for the weekend.  After a long four-hour drive, I waltzed into my farm’s office, happy to see my parents and siblings.  As I was giving my mom a bear hug, I looked down on the desk and saw a pink eartag.  Number 777. Otherwise known as DD, this was the tag to one of my favorite cows – a good milk producer, a beautiful cow, and mother to several of my herd.  I broke down crying.  You see, an eartag on the office desk means that that cow has died.  It’s more often that I see a yellow tag – the color of my parents’ herd; However, as my herd has aged, this is becoming more common for me too.

DD's Eartag

DD’s Eartag

Tears streaming down my 22-year-old face, I asked my mom what had happened to DD.  Looking just as sad I felt, my mom said that she thought it was probably bloody gut.  This is the kind of ailment that sneaks up on a cow and takes her down really quickly, no matter how closely you watch your herd.  Not knowing that DD was even sick, she hadn’t been put into our hospital pen for treatment.  She didn’t show any symptoms, and then it was too late.

I share this story because recently, I’ve heard several accounts claiming that farmers don’t care about their animals.  This not only saddens me, but quite frankly I also find myself offended when someone claims to know how my family treats and cares about the animals on our farm.

Because this is how much our animals mean to us:

I well up with tears and feel a deep sense of loss every time one of my cows dies.  My dad can’t stand to put cows down, so he has to call someone else every time we have a cow who can’t be cured of what ails her.  This isn’t because he can’t physically do it, but because the cows under his care mean so much to him that ending one’s life, even if it is the humane thing to do, is more than he can bear.  My mother has spent countless hours on her stomach, in the cold and muck, helping a cow who is having difficulty giving birth to ensure that both mother and baby come through safely.  One time my brothers lost it when they saw a couple truck drivers mistreating our cows as they got onto a truck to be beefed.  Yes, the cows milking years were over and they were leaving our care, but it didn’t matter…our cows, from their first breath to their last, are treated with dignity and kindness.  Anyone who acts otherwise is immediately fired, or, if not in my family’s employ, but on our farm (such as those truck drivers) are told politely not ever to come back.

These cows are our livelihood, and if not cared for properly, my family’s business will suffer.  But for us, and for many of our agricultural friends, we care for animals not because we have to but because we love them – it’s our chosen lifestyle.  From our first steps in the barn, we’ve known…animal husbandry is in our blood.  We want to ensure that the animals in our care have the best, because in turn these animals take care of our customers…you.  We want the best for you too.  So please, next time that you hear someone say we farmers don’t care, send them my way.   It’s possible they’ll encounter me giving my cow one last hug before it’s time to put her down because she has served my family well, but now it’s time for her to go.  As they watch my tears, perhaps they’ll reconsider.

My cows - Skye and DD

My cows – Skye and DD

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The Corn Harvest

Featured Farm Photo
September 2013

The Corn Harvest

The Bateman Brothers Harvest Corn

The four Bateman Brothers and their father operate Batemans Mosida Farm. This photo was taken during the Corn harvest of 2012. As operators of a large family dairy, the Bateman brothers take pride in running a safe, healthy operation that consistently produces high quality milk.

Their dairy, home to just over 6500 cows, is an amazing example of serenity and efficiency.

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Low Stress Cattle Handling

Kimball Holt

Kimball Holt

Managing an effective, safe dairy means learning a bit about cow psychology – how they think, what spooks them, why they react the way that they do. For Kimball Holt of Holt Farms, understanding how cows respond to certain situations has made a significant impact on his dairy. Over the past 2 years, Kimball has hired two consultants – both experts in the field of low-stress cattle handling – to visit his operation and provide insight into how the dairy’s structural set up can be improved to better meet the needs of the cattle. In addition to helping with the dairy’s traffic flow, providing tips on calming heifers when they first visit the milking parlor, and working with Kimball on the design of a new maternity pen, the consultants have become a welcome sight for the dairy’s employees. Training employees on how to interact with cows has created a safer, calmer environment all around. From the employees who attach the milkers on the rotary, to those who interact with the animals out in the corrals, learning about the the concept of “pressure” and “flight” zones has made a significant difference.

Pressure vs. Flight Zones

Imagine your own notion of personal space: if you are having a conversation with someone and he/she comes just an inch too close, you tend to feel a bit awkward, it’s difficult to focus on the topic, and your immediate reaction is to back away. Cows aren’t too different. Each cow has a notion of personal space, and if we enter that space without her “permission” or awareness, she will likely react in much the same way a human would. In the pressure zone, a cow is alert and unsure but she doesn’t run. Move just a bit closer and she may turn and bolt – you have entered the flight zone.

Pressure v Flight Zone

Pressure v Flight Zone

The consultants that Kimball has hired have been trained by Bud Williams – well known for his practice of low stress methods of moving cattle and his ability to teach others how to safely and calmly manage their livestock. On the dairy, Kimball has a goal for each of his employees – he wants them to learn how to read each individual cow. The pressure and flight zones may differ for each animal, and it is important that employees recognize differences – some cows feel more comfortable than others as humans near their personal space. When farmers and their employees understand the Pressure and Flight zones, they are able to work within the pressure zone to encourage the cow to move onto the carousel for milking or down an alley and back to her corral. Venturing from pressure to flight means that the cow is stressed and she is unlikely to respond favorably.

Attaching Milking Machines on Rotary Milker

Attaching Milking Machines

Through working with consultants, watching hours of video, and spending time training each employee, Kimball has created a calm working relationship with his animals. His cows are producing more milk, they feel calm in their daily routine, and young cows walk onto the milking carousel much more readily. Kimball has learned that it takes about 3 times of doing something for cows to truly learn and feel comfortable, so he emphasizes that his employees always practice patience and consistency when working with the animals.

Maneuvering Cattle Down Aisle

Maneuvering Cattle Down Aisle

Kimball’s experiences on the farm are constantly evolving and consistently improving – the dairy is always a classroom – an environment where the animals, the employees, the owners, and the consultants learn how to act to interact with one another for a calm, comfortable, and productive coexistence.

To watch more about low-stress cattle handling, check out these videos by Ron Gill

For more about the Holt Family and their farming operation in Southern Utah:

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