Thursday, February 1, 2024

National Dairy Quality Awards - 2024

We are so honored to receive a National Dairy Quality Award! I am so proud of Kris and our wonderful team. The award is for consistently producing high quality milk, measured by quality, udder health, milking routine and protocols, and strategies for overall herd health and welfare. 

Evergreen Dairy received a Silver Award, and this is the fourth year we’ve been a recipient.

Thanks to Lindsay Green at MMPA, the NMC and sponsors, and our entire team on and off the farm!

More here.


Monday, December 25, 2023

12 Days of Christmas - 2023

I did this last year and had a lot of fun with it. For the next 12 days, let's take a walk down memory lane!

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

It's our Christmas card picture from this year, taken by our friend Andrew! Somehow he knew that standing in the ditch right off our lawn was going to be a great view of the leaves.

Merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you for reading about our farm all year long!

On Christmas Eve...we love a photo recreation, and what's better than a photo recreation of a Christmas card photo? The calf had no interest. We had so much fun doing this one!

These boys have been putting tires on the pile since they could drag one. 

Thanks to the many people who have helped over the years - not only our wonderful team (they are so fast and strong!), but our family, tons of friends (even from out of state), our pastor, our kids' have all made this giant job go quickly! 

The pizza tastes even better when you're looking at all the hard work of the year - the planting, growing, irrigating, worrying, harvesting - in a nice, tidy pile, all covered up and secure, ready for your cattle to eat the rest of the year. There's no other feeling like it!'s three kids and three calves! Helping with calf chores was one of the boys' first jobs, and probably the cutest one we have.

Kris and I both grew up watching our parents (and grandparents) work, and we're trying to instill the same work ethic in our kids. Living on a farm makes it easier, since there's always some work to do! 

On the fourth day of Christmas...

Below - my dad and little me sitting on the porch swing on our front porch in our first house on the farm. Based on what he's wearing, you can tell dad is just taking a break from working to say hello. (Terrible colors back then, right?)

Top - my dad and little Ty and Cole, on the same swing! It's still on our porch today! You can tell they are fascinated by the candy they are about to eat...and their grandpa.

Kris and I both grew up living next to our grandparents, and we wanted the same for our kids. My dad told us he would work with Kris for a year on the farm when we came back, and then he wanted to do his own thing. And he did! Got his private pilot's license, flew all over, followed his own interests...while always still helping, giving advice, working anytime he was asked, and best of all...helping raise our kids. And still is today! 

On the fifth day of Christmas...

Field rocks can be used for so much! My mom has hauled so, so many rocks out of rock piles over the years. Not only has she built a rock wall at her house (now mine), she built one at her new house, too! This picture is after she revived mine, since it's been there so long it was sinking into the ground. 

My ancestors moved here when the land was first being settled and cleared trees and rocks to make fields. It seems like such hard, manual labor. 

The rocks still emerge from the ground any time we work the soil. We rock pick fields - one of my favorite jobs, because it's so easy to see the results - every year. We have rock piles next to the fields everywhere, and we even have one next to our yard, waiting for our next project.

We're thankful for my mom making our yards and farm beautiful. Have I mentioned she also mows all the lawns?! 

Sharing about the farm on my blog and social media made me a photographer, because I wanted to show what I saw. 

There were wonderful shots like this one - in 2019, we had to clean debris off the irrigation screen when the water was low. Now we cover it with a moving screen so this isn't needed anymore. But for a time, this was a job that needed doing that no one really liked. On this day, it appeared that Cole was perfect for the job. 


In 2012, Faces of Agriculture did a little article on us, and that's how this picture came about. Did they take it? Did I have someone take it? How did it come about that I was wearing a dress, holding little Max in our pasture? I don't remember that part, but I do love this picture!

In that article I said, "My favorite part about having a farm is the lifestyle. Not only is this our business, but it’s a way of life. Since there’s no real separation between work and home, the five of us are often together. Of course, it’s hard work, there’s not a lot of time off, and it’s stressful. But so is owning any business. At least with this one, we’re producing something we’re proud of, and we have a great view while we’re at it."

On the 8th day of Christmas...we spend a lot of time not only feeding, milking, and caring for the cattle...but looking at them on the pasture. It's one of my favorite sights. My house has pasture in front and behind, so I see it a lot! 

I love seeing them excited and jumping around, when they come to greet me, when they run alongside me, when you get in there and they grab your clothes with their mouths, eating and calm, lying down and sleeping. I love living alongside them. 

On the 9th day of Christmas...this is our calf cart, which Kris made so we can take milk from our dairy barn to feed our calves.

When Kris worked for Caterpillar, he was gone a lot. He wanted to farm in part because he wanted to be around his kids (who weren't born yet.) This picture is a good representation of their younger childhood - we always visited Kris for some entertainment! You can tell how used they are to calves that they are mostly interested in this cup!

On the 10th day of Christmas...

This is in May 09, as our two-year-olds were walking out to the field. Kris and the tractor are in the background. This may have been the last time they wore jeans.

Taking Kris lunch, riding with him in the chopper, the kids falling asleep in the tractor, taking turns - all good memories. I'm sure many of you have similar ones!

On the 11th day of Christmas...

I present the farmiest picture that also shows the strength of genetics.

Four years ago, my dad headed up building a place to feed our cattle. Here we're discussing it as he, Cole, and I stand in the same position. Bare feet, barn cats, and silos also make the scene. Photo credit goes to my mom, who was also working on the feed pad while recording gems like this one.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

We moved from Connecticut to Michigan in February 2007, and we had our twins in June. I rarely dressed them alike, but I apparently couldn't resist these Santa outfits in Christmas 2008. 

Also - photo quality has come such a long way in such a short time!

Friday, December 15, 2023

End of 2023

Life has really changed from when this was the only writing I did each day. Although I frequently post on Facebook, I just wanted to do a wrap up of another year on the farm. We moved here in Feb of 2007, so this makes it 16 years!

Activity collars, artificial insemination, and sort gate - These all tie in together. The sort gate moves the cattle where they need to be based on their activity collars. For instance, if a cow is in heat, it moves her to the management rail where she will be bred with artificial insemination. If she's not eating, it'll move her to the pen where we can check her and treat her if necessary. Kris tracks every individual animal on the computer.

There have been so many technological advancements even since we began farming, and the fact that this works is amazing to me.  It's not perfect - there are some cows who don't like the gate and will just time it so they can run through it and then we have to move them manually like the olden days of 2022. But it works for the majority!

Ice house - We had a building next to our house that was the old ice house. My great grandpa carved his name in it on May 17, 1899. It's when I assume they finished building it. My aunt and uncle called it the bath house, because we used to change clothes in there before using the pool. My parents used it as a garage. 

This year, we cleaned it out totally and found so many treasures in the loft. One of them was a brick hod, used to transport bricks and mortar. We didn't even know what it was - we had to research online!

We knocked down the ice house/bath house/garage to build a garage that fits our cars. Before we did that, we took a lot of boards and the door to use in our new garage.

Drought - June was pretty scary, because it didn't rain. I hate this feeling, and I've been through it my entire life! My dad repeated his old quote, "A flood will scare you, but a drought will starve you." Just the absolute scarcity of water made everything crispy, hard, and barren. And there's nothing - save for irrigation - that you can do about it. Then the rains came, and immediately the crops responded. Thank goodness for seed development and the hardiness of plants! We ended up having a great crop. 

Community - This year all three boys took steers to the 4-H fair. They had a great time, and we really enjoyed it! I joined the Clinton County Farm Bureau Board as the third member, and it's nice to be involved in that aspect of farming. Kris was elected treasurer of the United Dairy Industry Association, which is a national board of farmers that makes decisions on how the national dairy checkoff promotion money is used. He was already on the board of Dairy Management Inc and our milk co-op. For him, it's great connecting with people and working on the marketing aspect of the industry, which is ever-changing and interesting.

Coming up - Next year I'm part of a leadership class through MSU Extension, and Michigan Farm Bureau, GreenStone, the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan, and the Great Lakes Leadership Academy are supporting me. I'm really excited about it, and it has an agricultural background and focus. As for the farm, we'll continue making improvements, including in the parlor. 

As always, thank you for reading, and thanks for being interested in our farm!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

We put Fitbits on our cows!

We put Fitbits on our cows! They're not exactly Fitbits (they're actually Allflex) but they do a lot of the same things.

They track:

Activity level - If she isn't moving around as much, it tells us that she might not be feeling right. This way we can check her even BEFORE she gets sick.

Rumination - If she's not eating as much, it could mean something is wrong or the feed isn't agreeing with her.

Other points:

AI - Not artificial intelligence...artificial insemination. By tracking her activity, we can see when she's ready to be bred.

Sort gate - You can set up the gate to automatically sort them by their collars into different areas.

Tools - It's all set up the software on our phones and computer. Everything is tracked to make sure that we have eyes on our cows and are using tools to provide them with the best quality care possible.

I've worn a Fitbit for six years. It's probably high time that our cows have them too!


Thursday, July 13, 2023

Barns painted!

Last year I was at the barn with John and Tracy, and I said offhandedly that they needed painting. (My dad couldn't remember if they had last been painted in the late 80s or early 90s. Definitely not in the last 16 years we had been farming here, anyway!) John said he wanted to paint the barns next summer.

I thought it was sort of a ... that would be nice, but Tracy and John talked about it over the year, and it became apparent - they really did want to do it! 

It was a hard job. They power washed, but it really didn't take the paint off, so they scraped both buildings. It was hot, and they were covered in paint chips and sweat. We got a lift, because the barn is really tall, and it seemed really hard to do it with a ladder. 

After the scraping John sprayed red paint and Tracy painted the white. It took them long days and many hours and...they look so great! Thank you so much to my dear sister and John! I can't thank you enough.  

We still use these barns. They were built over 100 years ago. Still going, and better looking now!

I rarely write here...but I do here

Monday, April 17, 2023

Cereal bar

I've always wanted to go to a cereal bar ever since I've heard about them, and I finally did! It was as much as I had hoped and dreamed. 6 cereal + 2 toppings + MILK = Joy.

I got Reese's Puffs, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Oreo O's, with fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries on top, with 2% milk. 

Yes, I can of course do this at home. But somehow it was even better out! They arranged it all so beautifully, and the whole place had a fun, happy atmosphere.

It wouldn't be the same without milk, our wonderful and delicious product!

Wanna Spoon, Nashville, TN


On the farm...we hauled so much manure last week, and it went well. Always a race against the weather. We even seeded a field of alfalfa! It feels like spring for sure.

Kris has been going to lots of meetings, as as they wind down on those, it starts to be the busiest season of all.

This is our 16th year living here, which seems amazing to me. It's all gone so quickly. 

Here's to another great season of growing, harvest, and eating cereal and milk every day. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

United Dairy Industry of Michigan

The United Dairy Industry of Michigan put on their annual meeting. There were many things to love about it. The top ones for me were:

- Our CEO Dwyer Williams invited her family to see her at work. They were also going to visit a dairy farm for the first time!

- A class from WMU won a contest against other schools on coming up with the best campaign for milk. They spoke and were so great. Made me proud of my undergrad alma mater.

- A dance troupe finished out the meeting. They promised it would end with a bang, and it did.

- Dairy farmer Tim Hood retired after 17 years on the board. He very briefly said, we make the best product in the world. It shouldn't be hard to sell! : )

Enjoy your dairy...