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

 

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

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!

 

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!