Thursday, May 27, 2021

Tour with Olympian Lindsay Tarpley


That milk is glowing!

She loved, loved the calves.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley came to our dairy farm today for a tour that was streamed to 3700 students! She and her kids were delightful, and thank you to United Dairy Industry of Michigan for helping share about dairy farms and nutrition!

The video is here:

It was so much fun! Thank you to our moderator Jolene and everyone behind the scenes. There was so much planning involved - many cameras, headsets, Dan running all the mics from another city ... plus working on all the questions, coordinating everything with Lindsay ... there were five UDIM staff members alone here doing it all! (Plus, this was their second visit here - we had one to check all of the technology a month ago.)

We met Lindsay once before in 2018 when she spoke at our kids' school. That story is here. She really is a delight. She brought her kids, and they were so inquisitive and interested, and I liked them so much! It was great showing them around. Lindsay is also a fantastic speaker and advocate for dairy nutrition!

Ty and Cole left school to come to it, but Max wanted to stay, and today his class watched the video. He said they thought the calves were cute - a good review! 

I love showing people the farm, and the fact that we were able to show it to 3,700 people at the same time really makes me happy. Thanks to everyone involved!

Monday, May 17, 2021

The corn popped up!


The corn popped up!

My entire youth I said I would never have a job that depended on the weather, because my family spent so much time hoping it would rain or stop raining. I particularly remember sitting on the porch swing with my mom, willing the clouds to open up. So now... raindrops on the window woke me up Saturday night, and since we really, really needed rain, it was great. I definitely didn't follow through on that weather-related goal, but the risk is worth the reward!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Stalls are free, feeder is in, manure is hauled, corn is planted

What a busy, busy month on our farm.

Yesterday we were at dinner with friends and one said, "I have no idea what it's like on a modern farm."

Kris and I started to explain a little bit, and one part I wanted to emphasize that I normally don't is this:

There is continual activity here. Milk truck, feed truck, electricians, builders, vets, salesmen, plus all our regular team members. There is always someone coming and going. It's a beehive of activity and people and vehicles.

Free stalls

We added 140 free stalls overall to our barn. We had to do this to make room for the additional heifers we're keeping. To explain this, our cows have a calf every year, and about half of them are heifers. If we keep every heifer, then our herd grows, because obviously we don't cull half our cows every year. (We still have to sell heifers, but this helps.) This was a giant project that required tons of work, which was done by our building company, and it lasted from December until now.


This was another project that lasted from December until now, due to parts and timing and everything else that happens with multiple companies working on projects! We would have put in a system like our new barn, where you just put feed on the cement in front of them, instead of this feeder system that is mechanized and can break, but we have manure pits under the barn. As a result, the floor wouldn't be able to support our tractors and wagons. So! We put in a feeder that we hope lasts the rest of our CAREER. It also speeds up the feeding process, which everyone is happy about!


We use a company to haul our manure, and now we have so many cows that we have to do it multiple times a year. They got even bigger equipment, and in two days they hauled 2.5 million gallons of manure out of our lagoon and spread it on our field. I think back to when we had one tiny manure hauler and it took weeks. Of course, we had fewer cattle then, but this is still a nice time savings, especially when the weather doesn't always cooperate.

Corn planting

The corn is halfway in as of yesterday, and the rest is going in today! It is warm but very dry, and already everyone is worried, because that's all you can do about weather. It is a universal trait about farming. Check the weather, worry about the weather, talk about the weather ... despite my vow that I would never have a job that depended on the weather ... I do! Of course, I also work from home as a writer, so that has never depended on the weather, so it partly came true. 

On to May and more and more and more activity!

Monday, March 22, 2021

March on

It's construction season! We're still adding free stalls on to the barn - now the other side - fixing the driveway, and making a new feeder. These are huge changes for us. We have people in and out all the time. It's been happening through the snow, ice, mud, and rain, and now ... it's spring and it feels fantastic!

A friend sent me this post from REAL Seal Dairy of my tiny boys. They were four years old here. 

And here they are yesterday, doing calf chores! They are so helpful. I rode with Cole while he drove the 4-wheeler - also called a quad, but we always called it a 4-wheeler, and he is a good driver. 

Kris and I have been running a lot, and we even started a Run Club in St Johns that is SO FUN!

My friend Annie Link, also a dairy farmer, is holding a race at her farm on May 8. It even goes through her barns! We're excited to run it, and you can sign up here:

Dairy Discovery Road and Trail 5k and 15k

I post many more pictures (and much more frequently) on Facebook and Instagram, and you can follow both of those here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Detroit Mom and Domino's Pizza tour!

Last fall blogger Elizabeth Lewis of Detroit Mom came on a visit arranged by UDIM! 

It was a fun, two-part visit - one, go to Domino's and make our own pizzas with owner Eric Arntson and his family. We focused heavily on cheese and how it got there in the first place, since most farming boils down to food. 

Two, the bloggers, their friends, their families, and the Arntsons came to tour our farm! So we all took the entire journey from the beginning - calves, feed, raising healthy heifers, cows, milking routine - to the end, cheese on your delicious pizza. 


1. Eric loves showing people how to make pizza, and he and his daughter Abby were really good at it. It was so fun to go behind the counter and do it ourselves. Our kids - all of them there - really loved it, too. Kris made his own cheese bread, which he orders all the time from Domino's.

2. We are Domino's lovers already. They are the only pizza place that will deliver to our farm, and we buy a lot of it for our family and for our team. A LOT. I mean, we have the app and are frequent buyers and we all know our order by heart. Eric and his family also live in St Johns, and we're happy they're part of our community! 

3. We talked about nutrition and safety and all of the important things people should know about milk and cheese, but we also talked about the wonderful taste.

4. My boys each had their own pizza to themselves, and THAT does not happen. 

5. Domino's has a great relationship with dairy farmers! Order extra cheese!

Then on the farm ...

1. During my tour, I told them there's no party without dairy. Pizza party! Ice cream party! We're there. It's hard to party without us.

2. Elizabeth's son Nolan really jumped in and did all the things that my farm boys did. Get in the pen with the calves? Climb up the side of the barn? Run in the pasture among them? Yep. He was all in, and we loved it.

3. Christina of Socially Chrissy was there with her daughter Eden, and she really made me laugh. She also has a fierce love of dairy, and it's so great hearing that!

4. Elizabeth loves cows in a serious way, and will travel any distance to see them. It's always heartwarming to have people on the farm who feel that way about animals.

5. Katie Jones of Lansing Mom came with her kids, and she was my kids' friends' parent's student teacher! You find me a person, I'll find a connection!  

Honestly, showing people around our farm, going through the end product of the milk, talking about the ins and outs and benefits and consumer fears - it's all so wonderful, productive, and fun. You're all welcome! I'll bring the ice cream, and Eric's bringing the pizza - it's a party!

Domino's Tour with Detroit Mom

Wardin Family Farm Tour with Detroit Mom

I assure you, they ate these like someone might try to take them away.

Kris is loyal to these jalepeno cheesy breadsticks.

Welcome to our farm! And windblown hair! I need a hat.

Katie, her son, and a giant cow

Detroit Mom, Lansing Mom, St Johns mom lowercase : ) 

The whole farmy gang

Christina feeding a calf a bottle

Nolan COMPLETELY at home

Maryn, Eden, and Nolan climbing the wall in the background

Is there anything cuter? No.

We love milk and our friend Jolene!

Friday, January 29, 2021

National Dairy Quality Awards

I'm so excited, because our farm won a National Dairy Quality Award - Gold!

I am so, so proud of Kris and every single one of our team members for their dedication to producing quality milk. 

As the introduction here says, farms were evaluated on quality measures, systems of monitoring udder health, milking routine, protocols for detection and treatment of mastitis, and strategies for overall herd health and welfare. We're also judged on milk components, and these numbers can only be achieved by the amazing work of our team members who are actually in the parlor, every day, three times a day.

Thank you to them, and thanks to you for drinking and eating dairy products!


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Ended the year with a bang...

We really ended the year with a bang! On December 31, we had an electrical fire in our old tractor.  (Very old ... my dad bought it used in the early 90s.) No one was hurt, and due to the cool head of especially Mike and the guys, plus our fire department, the feed pile, buildings and cows were fine too! It really seemed the perfect way to end 2020!

I talked to Mike about it later, and he said he'd thought about it before - what he would do if a tractor caught fire. Like try to put it out with the fire extinguisher (check), move it away from the buildings and feed and cows (check), and spread sand on the burning diesel fuel (check.) What a guy! 

Now we're into 2021, and we're hoping it's not such a dumpster-tractor-fire of a year. 

Yesterday I got two messages from neighbors that there was a milk truck in the ditch, then they quickly messaged again to tell me it was actually a feed truck. The driver asked Kris to come and pull him out, because that's what happens every time a commercial vehicle around here gets stuck - much faster than a tow. But our tractor wasn't big enough to get him out - so we went to get another one, and another trucker came to pull him out. Good thing, because we are DOWN a tractor!

The builders are working on the barn project, the cows are happy with the relatively mild weather, and it's business as usual for all of us. Oh, except we're dealing with that mass hysteria, so my kids don't have school or sports. More time for sledding, I's to a shiny new year! May it be as bright as a tractor fire!