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California Farmers

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Wordless Wednesday – Dairy Aerial


A few years ago a good friend took me flying and I forgot the aerial pictures I took were on my phone here is a  view from the south.

A southern view of our Central California Dairy Farm.

Is my milk safe?


Cleanliness and safety is something that we think about before we even think about milking the cows. Cleanliness starts with the cow beds andalso by keeping our cows healthy . We wash our milk pipelines three times a day once between every milking shift, the milk tank is washed once a day after it has been emptied and the milk pumped out and onto the tanker truck. Food safety is something paid close attention to on a dairy farm here are few pictures showing what we do to produce healthy refreshing milk!

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This tank cools the milk and stores it at a chilly 39 degrees. This is a brand new 5000 gallon milk tank we installed a few months ago.

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Inside these stainless steel tubes the milk is filtered before ending up in the milk tank. Fresh new filters are installed before each milking shift.

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This is a plate cooler that uses water to help cool the milk by nearly 20 degrees before the milk enters the milk tank.

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This chart tracks the temperature of the milk and is changed every 48 hours. If you notice the two spikes in temperature they are when the tank is washed daily after the milk is pumped into the milk truck to be taken to the milk plant.

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This sink is where the cleaning agents are m ixed with water to wash the pipelines the milk flows through. It is like a big dishwasher for pipes and is used after each milking shift.

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the cows teats are dipped with an 1% iodine and lanolin solution to keep them soft and clean.

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Although hard to see because it is a clear gold color this is a peroxide based teat sanitizer we use before the cow is milked. It also has lanolin in it to keep the teats soft..

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The cleaning agents are automatically added to the wash sink for employee safety.

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We even take safety as far as protecting our water supply from being contaminated with cleaning agents or milk.

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The milking machines are washed in between every milking shift

National Cheese Lover’s Day


Deutsch: Blauschimmelkäse, "Lys bleu"...

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Cheese Lover’s today is your day so vote for up to 3 of your favorite cheeses below. Feel free to add any not here.

Not Red Dawn, Red Dusk


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Beautiful red sunset here in CA's central valley last night

 

Peek a Boo Sun


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Beautiful sunrise and one reason we enjoy working with the cows because we can witness natures grandeur first hand.

Awesome sunrise taken from one of our barns.

Would Old MacDonald be a geek today?


Would Old MacDonald be a geek today?

Growing up, most of us sang the classic children’s song “Old McDonald had a farm.” Today’s average farmer is a far cry from what is portrayed by Old MacDonald in that timeless nursery rhyme. Today’s farmer still cares for the animals and soil like Old MacDonald however the way farmers go about that care has changed greatly. Today farmers are more likely to have a smartphone here and tablet there than they would have just a few years ago, a laptop in a tractor or a combine there is a reality too.

Farmers like many others can have a lot on our plates and some farmers even run 24/7 farms so we look for every advantage we can to multitask and manage our time better. At the same time, farmers, by nature, are caring people and technology has allowed us to effectively manage our operations while providing more time to spend with our families and to help our communities than before.

Farming, like many other professions, has ups and downs — weather can cause harvesting or planting issues, things break and prices go up and down. However what makes it all worth it is the time spent with our families and communities that brings us all back around. If through various technological advances we can become better fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors and friends –it truly makes us better humans.

In the end I think Old MacDonald would be just as big of a geek as Steve Jobs because it would allow him to be a better human being while taking care of the farm too.

Maybe we should consider adding a verse like this:

Old McDonald had a Droid, e-i-e-i-o

And on that Droid he had farm tools, e-i-e-i-o

cow info here, crops info there

Here a cow, here a crop, everywhere a tech tool

Old McDonald had a Droid, e-i-e-i-o

Thanks to Janice Person for the help with the lyrics
Image is from Duck Duck Moose Design and the webpage for their Old MacDonald App 

Who threw sand in my food?


Lessons from the sandbox…

We don’t always get our way, or need to.

Relationships matter more than who wins.

Polite and respectful communication goes the distance.

If we each give a little we gain a lot.

As a farmer who is truly interested in the discussions going on about food I tend to run into a lot of conversations I label as “he said, she said convos”. We all know this kind of conversation where there are two distinct sides both trying to do what they can to “win” the discussion by convincing the other they are wrong and in the end the only thing accomplished is the chasm between the two sides grows into an immense canyon of finger-pointing and name calling. What I am looking for is truly a two-way open honest conversation where in the end the differences are merely an insignificant dip and both “sides” of the discussion understand the other. Personally I have had a long road to get where I am in conversational skills, I was one of those who tried the “shouting louder” theory in hopes I would drown out the opposition and all that was gained in the end was a lot of work for no reward. I firmly believe that because we have twice as many listening devices attached to our heads than speaking devices we should spend a bit more time listening than talking. Amazingly when we do listen more we can respond more effectively to the honest concerns and questions from others.

Just last week I had the pleasure of a food conversation I enjoyed. My seatmate on a flight to Chicago from San Francisco had a great discussion that lasted nearly the full length of the three and a half hour flight. The conversation started with my seatmate announcing she definitely was in tune personally with “The Omnivore’s Dilemma“. At first I had the thought “oh no here we go again” however decided lets see where it goes. We talked antibiotics, hormones, fast food, food portions and regulations, all fighting topics in many of today’s food conversations. However our conversation was different, it was heartfelt and honest, we both had similar yet different passions and in the end parted both better off having met the other.  I learned that she truly was passionate about food and how it comes to our plates however she also understands the farmers perspective of having to make a profit to survive. I understood her passion for healthy food and together we believe strongly in choice and that more often than not the healthy choices truly are not proliferate enough.

This week I have the privilege of heading to New York City for the first time in my life. My mission is to attend the NYC portion of the “Food Dialogues” being put together by the  US Farmers and Rancher’s Alliance. I am excited that there is something being done to allow for more open conversations in the discussions about food. Is it perfect? Probably not, and truly perfection is somewhat unattainable this early in the conversation. Have mistakes and miscues happened in the past? Yes however that milk was spilled a long time ago and I honestly think we really need to focus all of our energy on moving forward together and not moving backwards apart. So together let’s keep an open mind going in and have a great conversation about the food we eat and all the things that come up from fork to farm.

Disclaimer: I am attending the town hall on behalf of the Agchat Foundation in partnership with USFRA to report on the townhall live using Twitter. Follow my updates using the #FoodD hash tag.

Lazy Summer Morning


Here is a cow picture for Wordless Wednesday.

Cows chilllin

A few of our cows enjoying the cool morning before a hot summer day here in Central California.

These cows were just moved into this pasture yesterday and are relaxing in the grass. With all the late rains we had here in the Central Valley and now the heat the grass is growing very quickly in the pasture. these cows need to get up and get to work eating it down!

Posted from WordPress for Android

Want to see my farm?


My family and our dairy farm are very lucky to be located between San Francisco and Yosemite in the Central Valley of California. Because of this location we are in the flight path to and from San Francisco International Airport AKA SFO. When I have a window seat I try to locate my farm as we fly over. Many times I have had a seatmate on flights thoroughly amazed I can pick my farm out from such a high elevation.  If you can pick out Yosemite National Park and Half Dome you too can see our farm just a few minutes later as you head east.

The view of my family's farm from an airplane

We are very lucky to have awesome views of the Sierra Nevada and Coastal ranges, very often we have a front seat view of Half Dome itself.

Dairy view

Half Dome in Yosemite as seen from my families dairy farm

So as you fly over my farm please wave and remember we are down here everyday working on the farm caring for the cows who are helping provide healthy food for everyone.

What’s wrong with a little chocolate fun?


Chocolate milk provides great nutrition with awesome taste

Currently there is a large movement to ban flavored milk such as chocolate or strawberry milk in schools. The evict flavored milk from school’s movement is based on the obesity epidemic we’re faced with in today’s youth. Personally as a parent and a school board member I do not agree with regulating away products and services just because good eating and exercise habits are not being taught to children at home.

First and foremost children should be taught good eating habits at home so they can use those skills later in life. Second children need to be taught good exercise habits so they know how to work with their diet choices to live a healthy life. Schools have a responsibility to augment the skills learned at home however too often I see the school replacing the home learning in the area of life skills development. What has happened to self accountability and parental responsibility? I firmly believe that if kids look to physical activity before they pick up the Nintendo DS‘s, Television Remote, or Video Game Controllers along with healthier eating habits the road to healthy children will get shorter.

As parents my wife and I watch what our children eat very closely, are we perfect, no, however we do our best to teach them good choices. We limit the soda’s they have to very few and use them as a treat just like the occasional candy or cookie. The dairy farmer in me tends to err on the side of the 9 essential  nutrients the milk has , such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents), and not focus on the 1 negative, minimal added sugar in flavored milk. The most consist beverage in our children’s lunch is water, however on occasion our son and daughter like to enjoy a milk at school. They sometimes choose white milk and sometimes chocolate milk. Because of challenges keeping milk cold we prefer milk from school because it is kept refrigerated right up to consumption. There is nothing worse than having a cooling issue with milk in a lunch and ending up with sour milk. If schools remove flavored milk my right to let my children enjoy flavored milk is taken away.

As this diagram below shows very few beverages including juices contain as much nutrition as flavored milk.

Chocolate Milk Good, Evil, or in between?

I feel offended that my parental right to let my children enjoy food and have some fun while still receiving nutrients can be legislated away because of a small negative when weighed against the positives. I am a firm believer that if the good outweighs the bad then something should not be labeled as evil. Do we need to look at reducing sugar in flavored milk, yes we do, and I as a dairy farmer feel it is long overdue. There are low calorie non sugar sweeteners available that can be used such as stevia

My mother has worked in food service at a local large school district and witnessed the tremendous increase in milk consumption at the Jr. High School level when flavored milk was introduced in the school  instead of white milk as the only choice. White milk is great and nutritious but how fun is just plain white add a little color and flavor and you create a masterpiece of flavor and nutrition that is second to none!

So as parents, school leaders and society let’s advocate for a little fun and make school a more enjoyable experience for our kids to achieve the maximum learning possible!

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