Friday, March 2, 2018

Smoothie bike, dairy, and Olympian Lindsay Tarpley!

When we were at the National Milk Producer Federation meeting last fall, Max entered a drawing for a smoothie bike ... and he won!

 A smoothie bike is a bike that powers a blender on the front of it.  Cole, Max, and Kris put ours together this week - a definite benefit of my kids growing up is that they are perfectly capable of doing things like this that I don't want to do - and we took it in to their school.

After Maddie talked about dairy farms, milk, and the smoothie bike, the curtain opened on Max and the cow (Levi, a 5th grader) riding away!

(Are smoothie bikes a thing around you?  I've been aware of them for about four years now when we had one at a class picnic, but when I mentioned it to some friends, they had never heard of it.  I also thought everyone picked up change and found I was wrong - more for me!)

Two-time Olympian gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley used the ingredients of the smoothie to represent different parts of what it takes to succeed - hard work, perseverance, confidence, and sacrifice.

She also had St Johns High School soccer players there and had them do cool things soccer players do, like hit it on their legs and feet and do fancy footwork.  (One of them, Brian, is Cole's drum teacher and a nice guy, so that was a nice surprise!)

She talked all about her journey in making it to the Olympics - and scoring a goal in the gold medal game!  She did a great job tying it all together and stressed that no matter what the kids wanted to do - hard work would get them there.

She also answered a lot of questions.  They were pre-selected ahead of time and read by the fifth graders, so they were good ones.  (You've seen painful on-the-spot questions by little kids, right?  This avoided that.)

She brought her gold medals from Athens and Beijing with her ... so cool.

Then in gym class, the kids got to make and drink milk/yogurt/strawberry/banana smoothies ...

And in lunch they had milk/yogurt/honey/pineapple/spinach smoothies!

They loved them.  (It was class color day in school today in case you wonder why all the 5th grade boys are dressed alike. In pink.)

Thank you to the United Dairy Industry of Michigan for Lindsay Tarpley, for the smoothie bike drawing, and for the school smoothies, full of dairy!  It was a great day.

What's next after smoothie bikes?  Bikes that churn butter?  Bikes that make ICE CREAM?  I look to you, bike manufacturers.  We'll get the milk, you do the rest.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

On the rise

I went to Arizona for the National Cattleman's Beef Association trade show and presented with U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.  We are launching a free app called engAGe that aims to let farmers quickly get updates and share news on all the social channels.  (I'll share when it launches.)

The opposite of Arizona was Tuesday this week.  The snow melted and it rained for two days.  The ground was still frozen, so there was nowhere for it to go but up!  Our house and barns are on high ground, so no harm done.  The water came up over the culvert, but not over our road - but roads were closed in other places.  (Yes, the same places it rains when we desperately need it and don't get it in the summer!)  Now that it's Thursday, it's definitely down.

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Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor and nature

We still have a few cows that are calving ... the cows are doing great ... machines are breaking ... so just the regular end-of-February.  Except - there's rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so we'll see how high this creek can really get!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

School is closed, farm is open

It's such a beautiful winter day! It's another snow day for my kids, but as always there's the normal work on the farm...milking, feeding, and driving snowy roads to pick up the milk. Thanks to all!

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Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Want to know more about the farm?  Like the page on Facebook, on Twitter @carlashelleblog by email - the form is on the right side of the page.

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Is there added sugar in regular milk? No.

People have asked me why sugar is in milk, because when you look at the label, there it is: Sugar 11g in whole, 2%, and skim.

Check out my Kroger milks:

Great news!

There is no added sugar in regular milk.

Sugar in unflavored milk is natural sugar called lactose.  It's like how the sugar in fruit is fructose.

It's not added in processing or anything - it's just a natural component of milk.  Some might say that lactose is what gives milk its delicious, sweet flavor.  (That's me saying it.  I love milk.)  

If you're talking about flavored milk like chocolate milk, there is added sugar.  Depending on who makes it, chocolate milk has 8-12 grams of sugar added per serving.  

The makeup of chocolate milk makes it the perfect refueling drink for athletes, because it blends carbs and proteins you need to recover.  See the science on all of it here. (Some might say it's the best thing to drink after a race.  That's me, a member of Team Chocolate Milk.  I love hearing people yell 'I love chocolate milk!' at me when I race!) 

After Chicago Marathon last year ... believe me, I needed that milk:

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One serving of milk - regular or flavored - provides you with nine essential nutrients. Here they are:

Protein - THERE ARE 8 GRAMS OF PROTEIN in one serving of milk.  That's a ton.  EIGHT.

Calcium - We all know this one.  30% of your daily value in one glass!

Vitamin D - Everyone's talking about Vitamin D now. Yay, milk!  25%.

Phosphorus - Strong bones plus energy. 20% of it.

Vitamin A - Everyone loves healthy skin! And good vision! 10%.

Riboflavin - Converts food to energy - 24%.

Vitamin B12 - Build red blood cells - 13%.

Potassium - Regulates fluids, blood pressure, and needed for muscle activity.  11%.

Niacin - Used in energy metabolism. 10%.   

Some people avoid sugar, some people embrace it, but no matter what you want, the information is right there on the label.  All natural, full of good vitamins, and ... delicious.  (Okay, that's not on the label.  That's me again.)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I didn't want to let January slip past without posting an update ...

We had such a cold, cold month.  When it's cold, everything is harder to do, but it still gets done! 

The pasture looks a little bit different in the winter, but then it was in the 50s a few times, and we saw for sure it's green under there. 

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The last of the calves are still being born.  Kittens and calves ... always cute.

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We have farm team training sessions, and at this one we had Domino's Pizza.  In part because it's good and there's a new one in our town, and partly because they are really into celebrating dairy!

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Kris and I have also been to many meetings, because winter is meeting season on dairy farms.  Local milk co-op meetings, board meetings, and meetings in far off places!

The dairy industry has had a tough few last years, and this year isn't looking like it's going to be great either.  We have high hopes, we have a great team, and we hope everyone - especially in Michigan - is enjoying some dairy products today!

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

End of 2017

Ah, I started this blog seven years ago this month, and I've gone from writing here every day to ... writing for work!

Our farm, our family, and our lives have changed so much in the last seven years, too.  It's changed even in the last year!  So, here's to a wonderful 2018 as we look back.

The biggest project this year was changing from sawdust to sand bedding.  Just saying that doesn't sound so hard, right?

Last summer we had a bad problem with mastitis.  We tried everything, and the next solution was to change to sand bedding.

However, this wasn't easy.  This would require modifying our only five-year-old barn!  We wanted to pay our builders to do it, but they wouldn't be able to schedule such a huge project until after the summer ... when the heat can exacerbate the problem.

So, nearly everyone on the farm, plus the boys and me, helped.  It required taking down the free stall dividers, breaking up the cement, pouring new curbs.  We needed to painstakingly remove the mattresses and reuse them as a base for the sand.  All of this took weeks of manual labor as well as using cement contractors.  As well as all the hard work by our team, Kris and the boys spent their free time doing it.  Finally, it was done, and even better - it really solved the problem!  Saying all of that in one little paragraph doesn't really capture the amount of work that this took, involving new drills that broke bits, buying a sand shooter, bringing truck after truck of cement, moving the cows around to accommodate the work, trying to get done before the cement people came ... ah.  I'm glad it's done!

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Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

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Cow Walk
Another big project we completed was a cow walk for our cattle.  We built it for them to enter the milking parlor, so we could have even more free stall space in the barn.

This project also had great results, as it gives us more barn space!  The cows liked it too, except one that did not want to walk in the new way.  She eventually accepted that this was what was happening, and moved with the rest of the herd!

We are very thankful for the team we have working here.  It's not always easy to find people who want to work on a farm, and we're very grateful to these great people!  I know I say this a lot, but it affects our lives each and every day, and we're so appreciative of our wonderful team.  Also new this year is that Kris is on the Michigan Milk Producers Association Board, which means he goes to more meetings, which in turn requires replacements here!  So thank you, this year and every year, to our farm team.  A special thanks to my mom and dad, who are the best volunteer workers this world has ever known!  My mom fed calves for months and my dad does any driving or running or hands-on-things we even mention, and words can't express our thanks enough.

As for me, I have the farm, three or four other jobs, and these kids I like to see.  I love sharing about the farm and appreciate you taking the time to read all these years.  Here's to a wonderful next year, full of milk drinking, cheese eating, and ice cream parties.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ag Business and Katie Eisenberger!

In January of 2011, Kris, our 3-month-old Max, and I went to Atlanta for the American Farm Bureau meeting.  

While we were there, Atlanta experienced quite an ice storm.  Great footage here.  There were no flights, no restaurants or museums were open, and the hotel workers even had to stay in the hotel because no one could go home.  (In fact, on the day we were trying to take a train to the airport a car nearly slid into Max and me in the street.  SO MUCH ICE!)

As a result, we spent a lot of time with the other Farm Bureau members there and got to know them very well!  One of them was Katie Eisenberger, and we've been friends every since.  She's also the daughter of a dairy farmer, and after careers at MSU extension and as in insurance, she's now an agriscience teacher at Breckenridge High School!

Katie is one of those teachers that you absolutely just loved.  We all had them.  It was obvious from the way the students acted.  She's easy to love!

Katie asked me to talk in her Ag Business class today about how to communicate with people, how to share your story, and about blogging.  The students were great (hello all), and it was incredibly enjoyable to talk with them!

Out of the class only three of them were from a farm, and one girl whose family runs a greenhouse talked with me about how ... she knew there was a lot that went into a greenhouse, but until you're DOING IT, you have no idea.  

We discussed how each farm is different - we haven't been to a chicken farm ... she hadn't been to a dairy farm ... it's all just what's around and what kind of farmer you know.  Farmers don't know the details of other kinds of farms, let alone the general public knowing about every kind of farm.  

Just like the ice storm, when we were joking about why Atlanta had no equipment or salt - why would they?!  It almost never happens, so why have that expense for a once-in-50-years event?  You don't know everything that goes into it until you're the person responsible.

I went to the gas station by the school afterward, and the cashier said, "Are you a teacher?" 

I said, "No, I'm a dairy farmer."  

"Oh!  Well, thanks for feeding all of us!" he said cheerfully.  

And thanks to people like Katie Eisenberger, who are teaching all about it!  

Happy Thanksgiving, all!  

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