Friday, April 20, 2018

Six things you find at a farmer's house

Taken right off the wall for a photo opp
Now that I’ve been on the farm for eleven years … and grew up on a farm … I notice things about farmhouses that I don’t see in every house.  Which of these do you have – farmhouse or no?

Separate entrance
My house is 139 years old, and it has a lovely back entrance directly into … the basement stairs!  As a result, Kris enters the house in his barn clothes, removes them downstairs, and comes upstairs into the rest of the house.  No boots and no barn clothes ever enter our regular living area.  As an added bonus, our washing machine and dryer are down there.  (Yes, the benefits of old houses never end!  Would you like to see the creepy cistern?  The cement walls?  The water that’s designed to drain across the floor like a small river?  The fun never ends!)

The farmers I know that build new houses .., always put in a separate entrance, complete with washer and dryer in the same place!  If you’re coming home from work and you’re not covered with dirt or animal manure, then by all means use the same entrance.  But that brings us to our second one …     

Shoes-off rule
When you’re on a farm, you’re going to get your shoes dirty.  There’s no avoiding it.  Even our driveway is gravel, and our garage isn’t attached.  In farmhouses, you take off your shoes, because chances are, you were working with animals or with mud or somewhere that you don’t want anything tracked into your home.  I allow exactly one person to wear shoes in my house, and that’s Kris’ grandma, because she can do whatever she wants, whenever.  Everyone else?  Leave them at the door. 

People who are used to coming on farms – builders, salesmen, insurance people – they all know it.  Everyone leaves their shoes at the door. 

My friend – who’s a farmer and does not have this same rule – thinks it’s ridiculous that I don’t allow shoes but I go barefoot and my kids go barefoot.  Point taken.  But dirt just doesn’t stick to feet like it does to shoes, and yes, I make my children wash their feet when they come in. 

Freezer full of meat
The meat is here!  We have a stocked freezer, because we have steers.  My kids think chicken and pork are such delicacies because it’s all steak and roasts here, all the time! 

Farmers have their own meat, and they also often fill their freezers with 4-H animals, so people can have a variety.  I remember my mom calling me from work to ask me to take meat out of the freezer to thaw for dinner, and now I thaw meat for my own family.  There’s always something for dinner – even if it’s still frozen.

Barn clothes
When my oldest boys were in kindergarten, we were visiting a friend with a farm.  She called to her kids, “Get your barn coats!”  My son turned to me and asked, “What’s a barn coat?”  The fact that he didn’t know was a testament to how young he was, because of course now they all have barn coats.  And barn boots.  And barn clothes. 

Once you wear your clothes to the barn, they’re pretty much just for the barn.  Clothes never move in and out of that position.  They get relegated to barn status.

Kris will wear jeans until the holes in them are just too big.  He will wear shirts from races we’ve done a decade ago.  The boys wear the ugliest clothes they own, which are so perfect for the barn and nothing else other than the rag pile.  My friend had a ‘farmer day’ at school, and she sent me pictures, and she was wearing the exact boots I wear to the barn.  Such accuracy! 

Farm truck
Most likely, there will be a truck parked outside a farmhouse.  I don’t know how you do some things without a truck, like picking up a calf.  It’d be hard to put it in a regular car, but I’ve seen it on the internet!  The farm truck is filled with every tool that you will ever need.  Everything is in there.  If the world is ending, run for a farm truck, because it has everything you need to survive.

Random antique implements
This is standard in a farmhouse, mine included.  Bale hooks, ice tongs, saws, pulleys, you name it – you can find it on a farmhouse wall.  I even hang some of my great grandma’s wooden kitchen tools on my wall as decoration … and then pluck them off to use them when I bake pies!  (That was the most domestic sounding sentence I’ve ever written.  Thank you.)  I inherited my farm implements when my parents moved out of my house and I moved in, and we keep adding to them, like when my children find them in the haymow or granary or pasture or possibly, the farm truck.

Our houses are weird and wonderful, or as people say, they have a lot of character.  They’re full of character!  I love my house and on our farm, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  And I’d say that even if it didn’t have a pool.  Maybe. 

Want to know more about the farm?  Like the page on Facebook, on Twitter @carlashelley, or sign up to get the blog by email - the form is on the right side of the page.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Katie Dotterer-Pyle and Jessica Peters started #DairyDanceOff, (see some examples here) which featured dairy farmers dancing away on their farms. My kids were up for the fun, so they danced to the Peterson Farm Bros' parody 'All I Do is Farm'.

So much fun!


Someone asked where they got their moves.  We have dance parties pretty frequently around here, so they've been working on these moves since they could walk.  We all have different styles of dancing.  Please note, Max is rocking one glove and miming milking and using a shovel.  At dance clubs everywhere now! 

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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.

Want to know more about the farm?  Like the page on Facebook, on Twitter @carlashelley, or sign up to get the blog by email - the form is on the right side of the page.

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.

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

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, tree, outdoor and nature

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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