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Just a farmer… Just a person…


Today’s thought: Farmers are people too, we enjoy many of the same hobbies as other’s who walk this great earth. We farmers might be small in numbers however mighty in what we provide as nourishment to this world. Yes farmers are humans first and we are emotionally connected to being the best caretaker’s we can be for our great resources in this world.

Lending a helping hand…


Farmers are a unique bunch and one of the things I love the most about that uniqueness is farmers willingness to help out others. Wheter tending to a neighbors land or crops because of illness or helping rebuild after a disaster farmers tend to band together and help in times of need. It is also great to see the values learned growing up on a farm is not lost once someone grows up and leaves the farm.

Here is a great effort by Farm Boy and ESPN Baseball Commentator Buster Olney along with his Dairy Farmer brother Sam Lincoln to help those in Vermont struggling to recover from the damage the rains from the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Many Major League Baseball Players and other professional atheletes have donated items to help raise money and help rebuild a little part of America. Neil Huntington the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates who himself grew up on a dairy farm is also involved in helping out farmers in the North East.

Below is a blog Mr. Olney wrote reminiscing about some of his farm experiences that shows once a farm kid always a farm kid!

Thanks to Hoards Dairyman Magazine were I first read about the combination of my baseball and farm passions.

Batting For Vermont – MLB – ESPN.

Going to bat for Vermont 

Buster Olney

The severity of any problem on my family’s Vermont dairy farm could be measured by the length of my stepfather’s curse words. If a cow stepped on his foot, this usually merited four or five letters. If something broke on the hay baler, well, that might get nine letters, repeated.

But I never heard anything like the river of 12-letter words that occurred when our John Deere tractor — a machine that our farm could not function without — got stuck in the swamp behind our barn. I was 13 or 14 years old at the time, and it was the blue language that fascinated me most. I stood on the side and watched as my stepfather tried extricating the tractor with a small shovel and then broad planks, and I had never seen him that angry, that frustrated and desperate.

Now that I’m older and understand the concept of money and debt and poverty, I understand better where that came from. For a dairy farmer, a tractor sunk deep into the mud was a financial crisis, nothing less. There were tow companies in the state, folks you could pay a couple of hundred bucks to make the journey. But my folks, who essentially lived hand-to-mouth for a period of about 10 years, couldn’t afford that.

I can’t remember how my stepfather, Ed Lincoln, got the tractor stuck. To get from the barn to the 10-acre field behind our house, you had to pass over a narrow gap in the swamp, where rainwater gathered. Maybe the right wheel had slipped off the edge, or maybe he backed up too far. No matter, though. The tractor was deep in the mud, and Ed was almost out of breath and ideas.

“Go tell Mom to call Hank,” he said to me, referring to the old farmer who lived a mile down the road.

In 1973, my parents bought a dairy farm — a 120-acre valley plot wedged between two hills that ran parallel to each other — in Randolph Center, Vt., a town that, to this day, has about 400 people, no stoplights and just a handful of stop signs. Both had been raised in upper-middle-class families — outside of New York, in my mother’s case, and outside of Providence, R.I., in my stepfather’s case. But their dream was to raise their children — those they already had from first marriages and those they intended to have together — on a place where we could grow, work and live outside.

Their timing could not have been worse, because small family farms in Vermont were dying. Quite simply, the cost of milk was stagnant and the cost of farming was rising, and any debt — a mortgage, or loans to purchase equipment, or any unexpected expenses — was crushing. In those first years, my parents’ income scraped $5,000 annually. Ed has an extraordinary aptitude for machinery and anything mechanical, which was fortunate, because he had to do everything to keep the place running, whether it was welding teeth back onto the hay mower or fixing the milk pump or repairing a blown tractor tire. He had no training as a veterinarian, but within a couple of years, he learned to treat the cows himself, all but eliminating the calls to Dr. Arms.

Our lives were at the mercy of the seasons. On those mornings when the temperature fell well below zero, Ed would take an ax and cut a hole in the water tank to allow the heifers to drink, and if the pipes in the barn began freezing, he would run a blowtorch inch by inch along the main water line. I was 9 when we moved to the farm and had daily chores, feeding cows and shoveling manure and stacking hay and wood, but I don’t think I realized until I was an adult, with a mortgage and college loans to be paid off, how much pressure Ed was under.

There were no days off — none — because the cows had to be milked twice a day every day. We never took a family vacation, which didn’t seem unusual until I went away to school and met kids who had spent time outside of Orange County, Vt.

Although my parents had no money, I never felt like I wanted for anything. I spent the money I earned on baseball cards at Floyd’s General Store, listened to the radio, happily threw Wiffle balls against the side of the house, hit rocks into the pasture with a bat and played baseball in the spring. I was too naive to expect anything more, although my mother — who died in 2006 — made it clear that I would leave the farm for school someday.

But I can remember how the weather created crises. A July windstorm once flattened a field of corn behind our house when I was 12 or 13, and my stepfather was silent as he stared out at the back field; he was trying to figure out, I know now, how in the world he could generate the cash needed to pay for the winter feed that had been lost the night before. In the midst of a thunderstorm, some of our cows broke through a fence, and with lightning splattering our hillside to the west, we had to pull the spooked creatures back through the swamp; the water from the flooding went up to my knees, as Ed and I coaxed them toward the barn.

He had always fixed the problems, because that’s what he had to do. But as he spun the tractor tires in an effort to get out of the swamp, the situation had only worsened; the tires sank until they were half buried in mud. The frame of the tractor, normally three feet off the ground, was now resting on the mud.

There was no other vehicle on the farm that Ed could use to haul the John Deere tractor out. We had a small, gray Massey Ferguson tractor, manufactured right after World War II, that we used to rake hay and run a wood splitter, but not for any heavy jobs. Our pickup truck didn’t have the horsepower to extricate the John Deere. Any attempt to dig the tractor out would have taken a day or two, and there was a very real chance that if we got it to move forward, it would sink back down into the mud.

So my mom called Hank Hewitt, and it wasn’t long after that we heard the sound of his tractor coming through the maple trees to the south. Hank was probably 60 years old at the time, the owner of a herd of jersey cows about a mile south of our farm. He was funny and crude and hardworking, and I remember him having most of his teeth, unlike a lot of other farmers in the area, and he wore suspenders and the same barn overcoat most months of the year.

He rolled up on his tractor and surveyed the situation and immediately started teasing my stepfather. “Well, how the hell did you do that, Eddy?” he said, and Ed smiled slightly.

Ed had been a photographer at the Boston Globe and ran a studio in Vermont when he met my mother, and he learned everything he knew about farming by living it; older farmers in the area, like Hank, found him to be different — he wore earplugs to protect his hearing from the roar of tractors, for example, and I remember one of them shouting at him to ask why he did that. But he was accepted because he asked questions.

Hank backed up his tractor, hooked up a thick chain to the front of our John Deere and gunned his engine, and at the same time, Ed hit the gas on our tractor. The back left wheel on our tractor turned, with mud shooting straight up, but the tractor didn’t move much. They tried to rock it back and forth, to get any kind of movement, but there was barely any. Ed swore, and so did Hank, and I sat there fascinated. My little brother, Sam, was 3 or 4 or 5 at the time, and he stood to the side with me; he can remember it all clearly, too.

“Jesus, Eddy,” Hank said, grinning. “You really did it this time.”

They adjusted the placement of the chain, and nothing worked. But now Hank was invested. Ed apologized for the time Hank was away from his farm, but Hank dismissed that talk with a wave of his hand. “I’m going to go get the bulldozer,” he said.

As Hank headed back to his farm, Ed chopped at the mud with his spade shovel, trying to create some space to wedge some planks under the wheels. The John Deere was everything. Ed used it to haul and spread manure, to cut and bale hay, to dump loads of wood in front of the house.

Within a half hour, we could hear the bulldozer coming up the road, its sound distinct, twice as loud as any tractor. To this day, I have no idea why Hank had a bulldozer.

He slowly guided it down the path from the barn, stopping about 20 feet short of the swamp. They set a chain in place, and Hank revved the engine of the bulldozer, and when it started moving, the wheels of the tractor turned; the mud couldn’t hold the tractor against that kind of effort.

The John Deere rolled back on solid ground, and Hank and Ed idled the engines and climbed down to remove the chain. “Well, thanks,” Ed said to Hank.

“Twern’t nothing,” Hank said. He had helped because he could.

He changed the subject, and soon the sound of his engine disappeared down the road south, back to his home.

On Aug. 28, the remnants from Hurricane Irene dumped inches of rain on the Green Mountains of Vermont in a matter of a few hours, and the water overwhelmed quiet brooks and streams. State roads were wrecked in the floodwater, and towns were cut off.

Many farmers in the state were devastated: Barns and livestock and fields of crops were lost, by a lot of the people who have the least. In South Royalton, which is about 10 miles south of our farm, 81-year-old Duke Perley watched as his cows were swept away. Reading the stories, I kept thinking of Hank Hewitt, who had helped because he could.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, we’re holding an event to benefit Vermont farmers hurt by the flooding from Hurricane Irene — a baseball roundtable in the biggest building in Randolph Center, Vt., at Vermont Technical College. It’s about 35 minutes north of the Hanover area, about 2½ to 3 hours from Boston and an hour south of Burlington off I-89. New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman will be there, and so will Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington — who grew up on a dairy farm in New Hampshire. Theo Epstein agreed to come before he left the Boston Red Sox to go to the Chicago Cubs, and he’s expected to be on hand.

There are three tiers of tickets to the event being sold, an online charity auction, and donations, all through this website: BattingForVermont. The support we’ve gotten — dozens and dozens of memorabilia and experience donations from players, teams, agents, Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, different corners of ESPN and many others — has been overwhelming. All the proceeds will go to the Vermont Community Foundation, which distributes grants to farmers in need.

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 

Everyday food thoughts for me…


Blog Action Day

Everyday as a farmer I think of how I can do the best job I can making food for all to enjoy in various dairy products like milk, cheese & yougurt.

Everyday I think about how I can be the most sustainable and leave the smallest environmental footprint.

Everyday I think about taking the best care of the animals on my farm as I can because they ultimatey are where some food comes from.

Everyday I think about how I can be a valuable piece of my community.

Everyday I enjoy food just like most everyone…

…so today on World Food Day & Blog Action Day ( #BAD11 ) I wonder how we can make eating an everyday joy for everyone.

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.

Android down on the farm.


ACFC 11 Mobile Panel Notes

This is a followup post to the Mobile Use in Agriculture panel where I covered the Android platform at the recent Agvocacy 2.0 conference in Nashville hosted by the Agchat Foundation. The current devices I am using are a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and a HTC EVO 4g phone from Sprint.

The main benefit of the Android platform is flexibility in service providers and handset manufacturers. There are android handsets that range from less than $100 (w/ contract) all the way up to the Tablets in the $5-600 range.

To maximize battery life:

  • Use wi-fi for internet were possible this eliminates constantly searching for a stronger data (3G/4G) signal
  • Use the Auto Brightness setting when in sunlight
  • If indoors or at night turn the screen brightness down as far as possible
  • Set the screen to shut off after 30 seconds or less
  • Turn GPS off when not in use
  • Use 4G only if necessary

Good apps for Android:

Security

Lookout This is a good app to have because of the anti virus capabilities

Lookout help keep your phone safe

Protect your phone with award-winning security & antivirus from Lookout

Protect Your Phone. Get Lookout for FREE Antivirus, Phone Locator, Data Backup and

more!

Android Utility

ZD Box utility app

ZD Box utility app

ZD Box This app is a great way to maximize the memory of older phones that have limited memory

ZDbox is an amazing and free all-in-one toolbox. It holds a collection of useful tools and has a nice and easy to use interface. With ZDbox you’re getting your mobile/cell phone under control, do easily some optimization and customize it to your needs. An essential tool which you will love!

Productivity

Evernote I use Evernote for everything from parts lists to meeting notes, Evernote also has a great blog with tips and tricks.

Evernote turns your Android device into an extension of your brain.

Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve your productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go.

Evernote is available for: Desktop: Mac, Windows and Web

Mobile: Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm WebOS, Windows Mobile

Tablet: Android, iPad

Web: Evernote for Web; Web Clippers for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer

Learn more: http://www.evernote.com/about/getting_started/

Repligo Reader I use this app to take notes right on meeting agendas & markup electronic documents

View and annotate Adobe® PDF files and attachments while on the go! RepliGo Reader is the first Android application to enable both viewing and annotating of PDF files. Review documents on the go by adding highlights, cross outs, underlines, sticky notes, arrows, lines, ovals, rectangles, freehand drawings and text boxes. Comments are stored as standard annotations in the original PDF file, just like Adobe® Acrobat®. RepliGo Reader integrates seamlessly with Gmail, Dropbox, Evernote and numerous other applications. It also makes a great eBook reader, with features like night mode and an intelligent reading view.

pFinance The only commodity future reporting app to include milk futures

pFinance a great app for commodities

pFinance is the only app I have found that includes Milk Futures

One app serves all your personal finance needs. Highlighted by Google, pFinance is your personal finance hub with the following great features:

• Stock with real-time, after-hour, pre-market quotes

• Technical charts

• Stock options and option portfolio

• Market overview with indexes, funds, ETF, etc.

• Financial news from major news sources

• Currency portfolio, converter and news

• Commodity futures

Commodity Prices

Stay up to date with the latest Commodity Spot Prices.

Dropbox A great place to store files and have them accessible anywhere there is an internet connection

Dropbox lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, your Android device, and even the Dropbox website! With the Dropbox app, you can take everything that matters to you on the go. Read your docs or flip through your albums when you’re out and about. Save photos or videos to your Dropbox and share them with friends in just a couple taps. Even if you accidentally leave your Android in a taxi, your stuff is always safe on Dropbox.

LogMeIn I use this to remotely access the computer that has the dairy records in the barn office

Access your computer from your Android, and never leave anything behind. If it’s on your computer, it’s in the palm of your hand. Directly control your Mac or PC, all your programs and all your files – like that important presentation for your boss or that application that only exists on your work computer – with a simple click. LogMeIn Ignition for Android lets you remotely access one or more computers anywhere, anytime. So you never have to worry about leaving anything behind. Be Productive

Jorte I’m just starting to use this & I’m very impressed so far

Jorte integrates well with Google Calendar

Google calendar with Jorte integration

Jorte is a personal organizer application designed to be practical.
Our objective was to create an app with the look and feel of real paper personal organizer with an appealing appearance and easy practical use.Jorte has a scheduler function and you can customize its style as you choose.Calendars are displayed in a monthly or weelky view the display will rotate automatically if you turn your device sideways.You can see in one glance the important schedules that are colored red and also the schedules that have already finished.According to your style, you can set the beginning day of the week, import public holidays events and add our own holidays events.When you manage a todo list, you can view important schedules in red or rearrange the order of items in the list.Schedule and todo data can be imported from or exported to a CSV file.Jorte can be controlled using Google Voice and interact with Google Maps.The app has many features such as synchronizing with Google calendar and supports a wide variety of widgets.Issue that synchronizing schedule information is not displayedThere is the issue that schedule is not displayed when users use Jorte with Google calendar Mode. This issue is not caused by deletion of schedule information, but by mal-function of synchronization function of Android OS and information is still left on Google Calendar.

Area & Distance 

Use your phones built in GPS to measure the area of a region. Turn this application on and walk or drive around a region to measure its area. The path length is measured as well.

Smart Tools (Tools come as individual downloads also) Great way to get those measurements!

You can measure the length, angle, distance, height, direction. Smart Tools is a toolbox of a collection of 1-4 series. It includes 4 Pro versions that have 14 tools.

In a word, All-in-One.

Part 1. Length, Angle, Slope : Smart Ruler & Protractor Pro

Part 2. Distance, Height, Width, Area : Smart Measure Pro

Part 3. Direction, Metal detector, GPS : Smart Compass Pro

Part 4. Sound level meter, Vibrometer : Sound Meter & Vibration Pro

Bubble Level I can’t remember the numerous of times it has been helpful to have a level in hand

A spirit level. Hold any of the phone’s four sides against an object to test it for level or plumb, or lay it down on a flat surface for a 360° level.- Calibrate- Show angle or inclination

– Sound effects

– Install on SD

– Orientation locking

– Roof pitch

Google Apps Google has so many good apps they are a must on any platform!

Collection of apps by Google including such popular things as Google Voice, Google Docs, Google Goggles and many more.

News Apps I use all three of these apps and still have not found a clear favorite each has a strength that is a weakness of the others.

News 360 (phones)

News360 for Android Phones aggregates more than 4000 different news sources around the web to bring you news stories in a concise and useful stream, along with photos and video covering the story. The semantic analysis technology behind News360 allows you to get background information and dossiers about all the companies, people and locations that make the news, and to personalize the news for your location, and create feeds based on your specific interests

News 360 (tablets)

News360 for Honeycomb tablets aggregates more than 5000 different news sources around the web to bring you news stories in a concise and useful stream. The semantic analysis technology behind News360 allows you to get background information and dossiers about all the companies, people and locations that make the news, and to personalize the news based on your specific interests.News360 can learn from your Facebook, Twitter, Evernote & Google Reader accounts to automatically create an interest graph that you can use to get the stories that are most relevant to you from the best sources around the web, that you would have never seen otherwise, and cut down on the clutter and noise that you used to have to filter out yourself.

News 360

You can personalize your news using news 360

Taptu

Clever social news feed reader. Get the latest on your interests in one place. Taptu is a social news feed reader that puts all of the stuff you’re into in one beautiful app. Taptu lets you add your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the content from your favorite web sites and blogs via RSS and transforms them into gorgeous visual streams. Or add, one of our specially curated streams on a variety of topics and genres. Found a news article or stream you like? Share it via Facebook, Twitter, Linked & email. Or, save it to read later using Instapaper

Taptu helps find the news you want

DJ your news with Taptu

News Republic (phone)

All Breaking News in 1 App. Follow only the topics that really matter to you!

News Republic (Tablet)

News Republic, the best-rated news app on Android worldwide, is now available on Android Tablets.

A fully customized edition that brings you:
– A new slick user interface especially designed for Android Honeycomb tablets
– The best of the TagNav by hopping from topic to topic and reading the news on the same screen.
– A photo gallery that gives the top stories in full-screen photos.

News Republic, it’s all the news worldwide, live, and from all major press agencies : AFP, eWeek, Adfero, Associated Press and websites …

Entertainment Apps 

Spotify

Spotify brings millions of tracks to Android. Your music is always with you.How do you turn your Android into a mighty music machine? Just add Spotify.

 Pandora 

Pandora radio is a personalized radio service that streams music on your phone.Pandora® internet radio is your own FREE personalized radio now available to stream music on your phone.

Soundhound

What’s that song? Identify it FAST with SoundHound.

Shazam

Hear a song you don’t know? Shazam identifies it instantly

More sources of mobile information for farmers:

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

1st grader stands up for Chocolate Milk and choice


The best chocolate milk, ever

Chocolate Milk image by anthimeria via Flickr

Washington D.C. first grader Aidan Kohn Murphy from Lafayette elementary does an awesome job explaining why he and other children are actually better off keeping chocolate milk in schools.

Aidan’s Testimony

This young man did hid homework and polled fellow students and a doctor. His conclusion, the nutrients available in chocolate milk are “real food” and even with a little sugar are better than a soda.

I commend this young man for standing up for choices.

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 west.

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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