The Leading Ladies of Dominos

The Highlight of My Day

Domino’s has a customer for life… me!

I was pleasantly surprised to be nibbling on a piece of their delicious pizza when I happened to glance at the cover of the box sitting on the table next to me.  This cover was like none I had ever seen before. It featured the silhouettes of Stella, Edna, Abigail, Estelle, and Nancy as some of the cows who provided the milk for their cheese. Domino’s dedicated their pizza box tops to the unsung heroes of their business- cows! I thought this cover was a nice tribute to the dairy industry.

Thanking the ladies!

Thanking the ladies!

Domino’s has really impressed me. A few years ago their pizza chain was known for thin, tasteless, and cheaply made pizzas that featured a less than desirable amount of cheese. I can still remember seeing one of their head honchoes on tv, apologizing to America how they had let pizza lovers down. They admitted their error and worked to build brand recognition and awareness.

Today their pizza features plentiful cheese and mouth-watering topics to suit anyone’s desire. Combined with their sandwiches, cheesy bread, pastas, and chicken, you have a winning recipe to please anyone’s appetite. And the best part, it’s affordable and they still deliver.

Thank you Domino’s!

signature- crop

 

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What Can Moo Do For You?

Why I love milk…

It’s so delicious! Chocolate milk in cartons is my favorite… it’s a mental thing but it just seems to taste better compared to a plastic jug. Growing up mom cooked us dinner that commonly included a fruit, vegetable, meat, dairy product, and if we were lucky, dessert. This must have rubbed off on me because today I find myself looking for these to incorporate into my healthy eating plan.

One of my favorite drinks!

One of my favorite drinks!

The 3-Every Day program stresses the importance of three servings of dairy products per day. A die-hard dairy girl, I am that person who asks for a glass of milk when out to eat. One-percent milk, low-fat string cheese, and Greek yogurt are some of my favs. They taste great and are great for you, a winning combination.

To clarify, when I use the word milk, I mean it comes from a dairy cow. Milk from a dairy cow is not the same as almond or soymilk. If consumers want to drink almond or soymilk that is fine with me but I pledge my allegiance to my bovine loves, cows! Although I love the taste of milk and know it’s good for my body, dollar for dollar milk is the most economical food choice. With 9 essential vitamins and minerals you just can’t beat it. These include calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and potassium to name a few. Milk is they key ingredient in dairy products.

Dairy opponents say milk contributes to obesity and is unhealthy.

I beg to differ because I have seen research that has proven the opposite. Low-fat chocolate milk is the ultimate recovery drink for athletes because of its abilities to replenish what is lost during physical activity. From an article on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board website,

“Recent studies show chocolate milk naturally provides a winning ratio of nutrients more effectively than most sports drinks – enabling cyclists to work harder in their next workout.”

I think it’s important to remember that everything we consume, not just dairy, needs to be consumed in moderation. Whole milk and half and half do have higher fat percentages but babies and young infants need whole milk to nourish their bodies and aid in brain development. Many of us would miss our favorites recipes and comfort foods without half and half or sweetened condensed milk. One of my weaknesses is cream cheese. Who doesn’t love cream cheese? My mom’s cheesecake would never be the same without it. If only I can get her to give me the recipe….

Consumer Confusion

Growth hormone statement
Growth hormone statement

Unfortunately I do think marketing has confused consumers when it comes to purchasing dairy products. It frustrates me to see the disclaimer on the side of dairy products saying “Our farmers pledge not to use artificial growth hormones. ” And then in small print next to the asterisk it reads, ” No significant difference has been shown in milk from cows treated with the artificial growth hormone rBST and non rBST treated cows.” As a member of the dairy industry I am sorry for the confusion this has caused. It’s a marketing ploy, a tactic, that often confuses instead of educates consumers.

rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin hormone) is just one of many management tools in the dairy industry. On the farm I work at we have chosen not to use rBST NOT because we question its safety in food, but because we have other management challenges and opportunities that need addressing first. While we do not use it, there are other farms who do and this is fine. That’s the beauty of America- freedom to make your own decision! However I think it’s important decisions are based on fact and not emotion.

Thank You Technology!

Technology is constantly changing around us.

I think back on my 32 years of life and in such a short time frame much is not how it used to be. Like electricity, it’s something most of us cannot live without it.

Technology in agriculture amazes me. Cows are now milked and fed by robots, a crop can be planted precisely based on global positioning satellite (GPS) coordinates without the aid of a human, and the Internet is now utilized as a source of marketing, ordering supplies for a farm, and tax preparation. According to Farmers Feed Us, today’s American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. In 1960, that number was 25.8. With Earth’s population continuing to rise I am optimistic this efficiency will only increase.

applied tech centerThis past week I had the privilege of attending Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, a three-day tradeshow geared toward those in agriculture seeking to find the next technological advancement in an industry they love. It showcases the latest improvements in production agriculture, including many practical applications of recent research findings and technological developments.

 

Sometimes I think the public wants us to go back in time and farm like how they used to in the early 1950s. This time paints a picture of simplicity, tranquility, and the “good life.” This era in history featured an agrarian lifestyle dominating the landscape where mom and pop milked 20 cows in a stanchion barn in addition to having pigs, horses, beef cows, and chickens on the farm.

My grandpa Rich

My grandpa Rich

I am not saying there was anything wrong with this way of life but simply put, its the past, a way of yesteryear. Agriculture is hard work. It’s not a 9-5 job with great benefits and weekends off.  Sixty years ago you didn’t just work hard, you worked harder.  Kids were in shape and you could eat what you wanted because you worked it off!  But unfortunately though, the physical labor took its toll on the body. I watched how it affected my grandpa when he replaced both of his knees for two artificial ones, one which caused him severe pain the last five years of his life.

Advances in agriculture have allowed for those who work in it to lead longer, more productive lives and that’s just it… have a life! Growing up my dad told me they never even took a full day of vacation because they couldn’t, someone had to be home to milk the cows. Why have things changed? Agriculture today is less physical labor intensive.. We are working smarter. Today’s tractors and implements can perform a task in just a few hours that would have taken all day to 50+ years ago.

Technology has changed and will continue to change agriculture.  Having shaped the past, it will shape the future as well.

#WhatTheMuck- Muck Boots Social Nightmare

A little dirty but they get the job done

My Muck Boots.  A lil’ dirty but they get the job done. Time will tell if I buy another pair…

As a dairy girl who spends a couple of hours in the barn each day, it’s important to have some boots that are comfy, warm, and provide cushion for my less than desirable flat feet. That is why I fell in love with my Muck Boots 3 years ago. Ever since then I have been a faithful customer, purchasing a pair each year to keep my tootsies and back happy.

Earlier this week I heard they were donating $2000 to the Human Society of the United States (HSUS). I couldn’t believe it! A company like this supporting a group who wishes to abolish agriculture and hunting? Confused I turned to Twitter where I knew I would find out what was going on. Sure enough, this news had gone viral, lighting up the hashtag #WhatTheMuck.  Customers were MAD and irate. Many promised to never by their boots again in disgust of the news. It reminded me of the Yellow Fail campaign a few years ago when Yellow Tail had promised to donate money as well to HSUS and when the agricultural population found out about it there was an uproar in protest. Needless to say they never donated to HSUS.

Muck Boots started receiving upset comments on their Facebook page on July 31 but didn’t address the rumor mill until August 5. Five days later….. This is how fire spreads even worse. Turns out the money is going to the Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island (HANRI) in honor of a colleague who passed away. To make matters worse, on Facebook HANRI stated they had NOT received any money from Muck Boots and asked people to stop calling. Whoever posted that wrong is probably in some hot water, wishing they had some boots to step out of what they just created. Comments are still lighting up their Twitter and Facebook page with customers who are either appauled, promising to never buy their boots again or customers who have forgiven the company.

On August 7th around 3pm they released a statement, apologizing for their wrong doing and the loyal customers they disappointed. In their damage control attempt things were made worse and there is much confusion and speculation still about what is really going on.

Social media has the power to topple governments, expose the real truth, and now cause companies to regret their actions because of what’s stuck in the muck.

muck fb post

Lessons Learned

ACOM 5308 enabled me to take a more in-depth look at how social media impacts agricultural communication. Listed below are the three most important concepts, ideas, and principles I have learned in this course. In no particular order:

Social media’s presence is everywhere!                                     

Frito lay picWe are inundated with it on a daily basis. I can honestly say I underestimated social media’s influence before this class. This became evident to me one night while watching TV and noticing the majority of commercials ended with a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram logo present on the screen. Having been previously lost in the fog, my eyes had been opened!

Its ubiquity is easily seen by looking at statistics. In class we learned that six billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month and Facebook has 1.3 billion users, approximately 20% of the world’s population.

I recently went to Subway and purchased a bag of Frito Lay chips and sure enough the back of the bag read, “Find us on facebook.com/fritolay!” If you’re a business and not incorporating social media as part of your marketing plan, you should be. Businesses need to embrace social media to thrive and stay competitive. Similar to an athletic scenario, they need to get in the game instead of watching from the sideline.

Building a fan base

So you’ve decided to use a social media platform and identified your target audience. This is great but there are a few basic housekeeping tasks to gain an audience and keep them engaged. One of the most important elements, consistency is integral to any social media platform. Followers don’t want to read or see what happened two years ago, they want to see what’s going on today. Publishing content must occur on a consistent basis to sustain a viewer’s interest. Content must also be relevant to your target audience. You need to resonate with them or satisfy some need or purpose. Quality, valuable, useful content gets and keeps followers. Another key element, creating dialogue among audience members, enables viewer’s to connect with each other. Through dialogue and conversation followers can share stories and make comments making them feel their input is valued and appreciated.

As with any technology, social media has benefits and drawbacks

Listening and responding to comments, building relationships, reputation control, and enhancing brand recognition are all benefits of social media. And even better yet, having an online presence through social media is FREE! With 93% of shoppers’ buying decisions influenced by social media, consumers are more apt to believe testimonials over advertising (Source: Erik Qualman, #Socialnomics 2014).

With these benefits also come drawbacks. Commonly social media serves as an outlet or venue for people to vocally express their opinions. News travels in exponential rates on social media, faster than it does by word of mouth. A fire that starts can quickly get out hand. Privacy is another concern with social media. People willingly post personal information about themselves, pictures of their children, videos of coworkers getting drunk at the company Christmas party, etc. This digital footprint exists forever in the cloud. Unfortunately we live a world where trust is hard to come by.

More about the Ladies

I’ve come a long way in working with cows on a daily basis to once being afraid of them. Agriculture has shaped me into the person I am today and created many fond memories for me to reminisce about. Cows have a very calming effect on me. I love the way they smell and lay in the grass, perched like chickens. If you have never worked with cows, know this… They are extremely curious and noisy! They want to know what’s going on at all times. They also have immaculate senses of smell.

My dad and me (photo courtesy of Cathy Peterson)

 

My dad taught me the art of working with cows.

Cows loved to be scratched on their tail heads, and I have watched him scratch many a cow who would then became putty in his hands. When I work with the post fresh cows (these are the cows that just calved) I like to scratch their tail heads so they can feel comfortable around me and as their caretaker it helps to build trust.

 

 

As a blast from the past for all of the ladies who have touched my heart, here is a tribute to them.

My first bovine love was cow 203.

She was very tame and dad would always yell, “203 be free!” Why he said this I don’t know, but it rhymed so I went with it.

Next came Fair Calf number 706.

Fair Calf and me

What a real original name, huh?! She was my first show animal and the name stuck ever since. Fair Calf was one of the most gentle, friendly cows in the barn and she was great to work with because she was very low maintenance. She rarely was sick, had a great disposition, gave a decent amount of milk, and effortlessly popped out calves. We raised one of her bulls (a male calf) to keep for breeding when he got older.

And then there was Big Girl… who could forget Big Girl!

She was a 1800 pound freight train running after you in the freestall barn because she wanted to play. She would run behind you and kick up her heels. She was a gentle giant, a big dog if you will.  She was the kind of cow who made your heart melt and if you were having a bad day she would shower you with cow kisses. This included a rough, sandpaper tongue with lots of slobber.

Big Girl

Big Girl… the cow dog

Apple Eater’s number was 911.

Ironically it was written on a red tag. Her name was Apple Eater because one day during milking I was eating an apple and she happened to be standing by me and ate the core. The next day I tried oranges. She liked them, too! Bananas and pears were also a favorite. She loved fruit!

We joked about how she would                                                       give orange juice instead of milk!

Stalkerfriend (5369) made the move from when our cows were sold to the farm I work at now.

She was also a gentle giant and I called her Stalkerfriend because that’s just what she did… stalked you around the barn until you would pay attention to her. She was very lovable. Stalkerfriend is on the right with Big Girl’s daughter (Big Girl #2) in the middle. The cow on the far left is just photo bombing……

The photo bomber cow, Big Girl #2, and Stalkerfriend getting milked

My Ladies Today!

Aunt Deb and me

Even though I work with about 200 cows, I do claim 2 cows and 2 heifers that I own. They include cow 6720, she doesn’t have a name, and cow 1224, also know known as Aunt Deb. My friend and colleague Amy wanted to call her that in honor of favorite aunt. Aunt Deb was just dried off this morning. We stopped milking her and for the next two months and she will be on vacation in the pasture. These two months are used as a rest period in preparation for her to calve. She looks irritable in this photo because she’s having a bad hair day…

 

6720 hails from the original Big Girl cow. If Big Girl were alive today she would be 6720’s GRANDMOTHER!

Stopping for a quick pose with 6720

 

This is one of my favorite parts about working with cows, seeing families grow and tracing back their ancestry. They were my pets and just as things come, they must go. This is the life cycle. Sometimes I think we forget this in life. Everything has a beginning and everything has an end. However, this doesn’t make it any easier. I will talk about this more in a future post.

               Thank you reading about my ladies                                        and stay tuned for more cow tales!

 

Social Media in Agriculture

I have been a Facebook user since 2009. However, I didn’t realize the true magnitude of how social media impacts our lives until I enrolled in the course Utilizing Social Media in Agricultural Communications taught by Dr. Courtney Gibson at Texas Tech University. Multiple social media platforms exist and all feature benefits such as free advertisement, information dissemination, and providing a means for viewers to share their opinions. Using social media in agriculture is very important! It’s a form of technology enjoyed by users that shouldn’t be ignored.

The following is a list of 10 examples featuring good social media use in agriculture.

YouTube                                                                    

John Deere                                        youtube-logo[1]

John Deere demonstrates good social media use with their YouTube channel. Videos are grouped into segments such as agriculture, forestry, and construction in addition to playlists featuring specific topics such as John Deere Financial, Improving Your Efficiency, and Haymaking Tips and Tricks. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn plugins on their home page they are also easily accessible on other social media platforms.  John Deere engages in conversations with viewers through their discussion page as well.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does a good job of putting time and effort into their YouTube channel.  They consistently post media with their last video uploaded two days ago in addition to featuring their logo as their profile picture. The USDA also has other channels they subscribe to and are persistent in displaying their contact information at the end of every video. The USDA extends their influence on social media by not only utilizing YouTube but Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and Google Plus to name a few.

North Dakota State University Extension Service (NDSU)

Extension focuses on helping people better their lives through unbiased research. NDSU’s channel features videos grouped into playlists such as Horticulture for the Home, Fall Lawn and Garden, and Farm Safety. These videos show the results of people utilizing their services. NDSU consistently uploads videos with their last one added three weeks ago. Subscribing to other channels also helps viewers identify similar topics.

Twitter                  

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)twitter

Although I do not support HSUS and their agriculture abolishment efforts, I figured they must be doing something right when it comes to social media because they are VERY effective in persuading people. Turns out I was right unfortunately! They publish about 3-4 tweets everyday for their followers to see what’s happening in real time. With about 2000 pictures and videos, utilizing cute pictures of cats and dogs and funny animal stories is what they do best. They also attract followers by commonly re-tweeting other messages. In opposition to HSUS, the detective group HumaneWatch is also present on Twitter where they share findings about HSUS’s donations to animal shelters.

Fastline

I will admit that my strength in agriculture lies in dairying and animal welfare. With a desire to learn about agriculture equipment, I enjoy reading Fastline’s Twitter feed. They practice good social media use by consistently posting at least one tweet everyday and frequently share other tweets and use mentions. These two actions provide more exposure to Twitter users and aid in searching hashtags. Their photos often feature timeless quotes and eye appealing typography. Fastline’s tweets are very positive and uplifting as well.

Facebook

Heartwood FarmFacebook_icon

Heartwood Farm is a great example of social media use for variety of reasons.  The farm is working to establish themselves in the social media world by using their logo in their profile picture in addition to a masthead with a beautiful cow picture. The majority of their posts also include a picture, video, or link to a website putting even more opportunities at the viewers’ fingertips. In their posts they also                                                        utilize hashtags which works to also cross promote their tweets on Twitter.

World Dairy Expo

With almost 20,000 likes, World Dairy Expo utilizes Facebook to promote this event held in Madison, WI. They serve as a good example of social media use for a variety of reasons but I believe they best exemplify this because of their extensive photo gallery. This helps attract prospective visitors and in addition to showcasing their pictures, they post messages consistently throughout the year even though expo occurs only for one week in early October. World Dairy Expo engages its viewers by hosting contests and encouraging dialogue with its followers.

Agriculture Everyday

Agriculture Everyday does a fantastic job of keeping viewers engaged with their photos, videos, and neat infographics that accompany their posts. They needed a timeline photo and sponsored a contest where followers could submit their pictures to be voted on. This way a great way to make viewers feel important by getting them involved. They feature newsworthy content and facts with brief, pertinent posts.

Instagram

instagramNational FFA Organization

The National FFA Organization effectively utilizes Instagram to promote their group with their display of attractive, high quality, and creative photos of FFA students across the nation. They incorporate other social media platforms such as Twitter into their pictures to create conversation with hashtags such as #goffa and #ffathanks. My favorite photo is a screen shot with Easton Corbin’s tweet mentioning National FFA. It’s a great example of how they used a celebrity and his influence to their benefit.

Bonnie Mohr

Instagram is a great social media outlet for Bonnie to showcase her paintings and photographs. As one of the most well-known artists in agriculture, her work is conveniently assorted by date.  All of her images are of excellent quality with hashtags such as #lifeonthefarm and #summer as Twitter identifiers. Her tagline provides a brief description of her that includes her website and subsequent blog link. She really makes her site personal, sharing who she is and her love for painting and rural life.

 

 

 

Doctor Kate

My friend and colleague Amy likes to call me Doctor Kate.

 

Do I have a Degree of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)? No…

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Symbol

(DVM Symbol)

                              Do I always know what’s wrong with a sick cow? No…

But do I do my best in trying to help her? YES!

As a herd manager it is my responsibility to care for the health and well-being of cows. Just like people they get sick and need someone to care for them; this is my role! The majority of my work and what I enjoy the most is working with the fresh cows. These cows just had their calves and are the most susceptible to disease and illness because of the stress on their body. Here is a picture of a fresh cow and her baby. Aren’t they cute?!

Momma and baby! They look like twins!

Momma and baby! They look like twins!

Shortly after they freshen (after they have given birth) I like to give them probiotics, electrolytes, and calcium. The electrolytes are similar to Gatorade- a cow Gatorade that is! The electrolytes are given orally to help replace what she has lost through calving. I mix the solution and water in a 5 gallon bucket. It may seem like a lot but a cow can drink a bathtub full of water a day so literally it is like a drop in the bucket!

Gatorade for cows

Cow Gatorade

 

Probiotics are good bugs, similar to what you find in yogurt.
Two is all they get.

probios

Cow probiotics

 

 

 

 

 

drenching gunLast but not least, they receive calcium with a drenching gun. There’s no conceal and carry permit needed with this gun however! This drench really doesn’t taste the best so usually they spit it all over me, call it hazards of the trade if you will. In preparation for the cow to give birth, her body utilizes a lot of calcium and other vitamins and minerals and drenching her helps to replace what was depleted.

You might be asking why I do all of this?

Simply put, I want to help the fresh cow feel like herself again because as mentioned earlier calving puts her body through stress. Similar to humans, stress can cause a myriad of health effects to the body. For the next few weeks she will stay in a pen with her other herdmates who have also just calved. We call this pen or group of cows the fresh pen. Every morning I monitor their health by taking their temperature, ensuring they are eating, and working with my colleagues to note if they noticed any possible signs of illness.

I might not have a degree in veterinary medicine but I do know that if I weren’t feeling the best, I would want someone to take care of me. As the saying goes, “Try to put yourself in their shoes.” In my line of work though I try to put myself in their hooves!

 

10 Examples of Blogs I Like

Below are 10 examples of blogs that I enjoy reading. They include topics such as agriculture, country living, relationships, fashion, and food. In no particular order without further adieux…

Agriculture

The Adventures of Dairy Carrie

Carrie’s blog is aimed at sharing about life on a dairy farm and the real truth about what goes on behind closed gates! The picture on her homepage is so captivating; it immediately draws my attention every time I view the page. Carrie shares information (for example, June Dairy Month facts) that is timely and easy to understand for those without an ag background. I like how Carrie’s Twitter feed also shows up on her home page. It’s very easy to read her short posts saving me time.

Michele Payn-Knoper’s Gate to Plate Blog

Focused on communicating agriculture with the public, Michele encourages comments on her page but most importantly, takes time to respond to her viewers. She also makes her blog simple to share by putting Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, and LinkedIn social icons on her page. Her posts are well-written and professional and she is a true ‘agvocate,’ one of the reasons she is one of my favorite bloggers.

Living My Dream, Becoming a Vet

With an interest in animal husbandry, this blog appealed to me because I am very impressed with the author’s sincerity. In class we learned to start blogging and not stop to be effective, but in this blogger’s case, she announced her retirement from blogging because she is graduating from vet school in June. Her posts were brief and focused on helping others by sharing questions about entrance into vet school. It’s nice to read a blog that doesn’t have a narcissistic feel from the author.

Country Living

Betsy’s Backyard Blog

Oodles of pictures accompany this blog! Below each picture is a short caption making skimming the article much easier. Betsy’s photograph is located on the home page and I find it to be a nice touch because it makes her blog more personal. I am always looking for new adventures and opportunities. This blog offers a little bit of both.

The Pioneer Woman

It seems like anything you would ever want to know about country life can be found on this blog!   Her posts are so humorous, detailed, and engaging that you could probably spend all day reading. If you are more of a visual learner this is the perfect blog…. a myriad of pictures follow the text.

Relationships

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Featuring true relationship stories, this blog’s content is consistently brief and humorous making it a light read. At the bottom of the page you can easily click on the next post in the series; this makes it very addicting because you want to keep reading! Often in relationships you can’t explain a person’s actions and reading these stories makes you realize this is actually normal!

Fashion

Travel Underwear: How Many Should I Pack for My Year Round Trip?

It may sound like an odd blog but in a girl’s world it’s such a pertinent question because it seems like we ALWAYS over pack! I like how she has links on the sidebar relating to checklists and guides for packing when traveling. Throughout her text she also uses a bright color to set keywords apart that link to a different website that open up in a new window.

Food

The Messy Baker

It’s a catchy title for a blog with mouth-watering pictures. A list of tagged keywords are easily accessible at the top of the page. She also has a save and print icon conveniently located next to her recipes. I really enjoy how Charmian also uses humor and you can tell she really is passionate about baking and its okay to make a mess in the kitchen!

A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

As a food connoisseur, I love to eat- I would do it professionally if I wouldn’t gain any weight… and got paid! Brenda’s blog features recipes with pictures of delicious dishes inspiring this new thing I have been trying for me and my boyfriend- cooking. She has about 2 giveaways a month, perfect for people like me who like to win free things.

Safe and Healthy: Preserving Food at Home 

Because of my love to eat as mentioned earlier, I figured a blog about food safety might be worth investigating. The University of Wisconsin-Extension’s blog incorporates images to complement the text and tags each post with at least three keywords. This makes searching for a specific word a piece of cake. They also use narrated videos to help viewers safely learn how to preserve food. The content (ex: Grilling in the Summer) is also timely and immediately applicable.