Thursday, March 16, 2017

I won!

Community service is nothing new to my family. For decades, my Grandpa and Dad served their hometowns as elected officials. My Dad served the Township, then Village, then City of Cottage Grove, Minnesota for over 30 years. As the population grew, the name changed, and the responsibilities increased. Grandpa Dankers was also very involved. He and Dad were always on various committees, boards, and commissions. Mom was too! We used to joke as kids growing up that it was nearly unheard of that Dad had a night without meetings! 


Perhaps we can blame it on heredity then that my brother, sister, and I are also serving. My brother will soon begin his first term on his local school board, and my sister is currently serving on committees and commissions in her hometown. This week, for the first time, I saw my name appear on our Township ballot. On Tuesday, I became the newly elected Treasurer of Nininger Township!


I have actually been the Treasurer for the past year, filling a vacancy, but now I can say I am an Elected Official! There is something exciting about seeing your name on a ballot. I can't explain the feeling other than I feel proud! And I'm sure my Mom and my Dad are proud of me too!

 As dairy farmers, some people think of our farms as an "island" in the middle of nowhere. That is certainly not true. Bremer Farms is 20 minutes from downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. We even have a golf course directly across the street from our front door. What we do, and what our neighbors do, affects all of us. 

Dairy farmers are local small-business owners, parents, school supporters, and active members in community organizations, and government. We care about the health and well-being of our communities. We also create jobs that help to sustain the local economy. We purchase machinery, trucks, fuel, and more, which creates jobs and produces revenue locally. So why wouldn't I get involved in local government?

Thanks for the congratulations bouquet (and the pie), Ana!



Monday, March 13, 2017

Super Bowl and Super School Breakfast

If you are a Minnesotan, you probably know Minnesota will host the Super Bowl in 2018. If you are a football fan from Minnesota, like me and my family, you definitely know where the Super Bowl will be played next year...and I can't wait! I may not be one of the lucky ones to sit in the stands on game day, but there is still a lot to be excited about!


As we approach Super Bowl LII, Midwest Dairy Council and Fuel Up to Play 60 are working closely with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) to award Super School Breakfast grants to Minnesota Schools and celebrate school breakfast across the state in the 52 weeks leading up to the Big Game.


This past week, Adams Spanish Immersion School was host to the grant dedication celebration for St. Paul Schools.
As the students arrived, they were greeted by the Super Hero volunteers representing ECMC and General Mills,


and of course, Midwest Dairy Association was there too. That's my daughter Sara on the right!

After the students Super welcome, they headed to the cafeteria to collect their breakfast because everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!


I had fun greeting the students as they went through the breakfast line. I shared smiles and high-fives as the students helped themselves to the nutritious, healthy choices including milk and yogurt.


Then it was off to the Media Center for the program where we were greeted by Maureen Bausch, (CEO, Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee) who shared that just like football players, students do their best when they fuel up with a nutritious breakfast. Through this 52 week campaign, the Legacy Fund has a goal of helping every Minnesota child build life-long healthy habits.


Next it was my turn to represent the Minnesota dairy farmers of Midwest Dairy. I shared with the students how starting their day with a good breakfast, including milk, prepares them for a full day of learning. I told them how proud my family is to be in partnership with the Super School Breakfast Initiative, and also a part of providing them with dairy foods, and that each time they choose milk, it makes my cows smile!


Iris Cumberbatch (ECMC) and Mary Jane Menlendez (Executive Director, General Mills Foundation) also stressed the importance of the Super School Breakfast. Did you know that more than 60 percent of students do not eat breakfast?

The celebration ended as we raised our milk cartons in a "milk toast" led by Dana Nelson (Vice President, Legacy and Community Partnerships, Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee) to celebrate school breakfast and the dedication dairy farmers have to providing wholesome, nutritious milk to schools. 


"We are committed to positively impacting the health of children across Minnesota as part of this campaign."


As a Minnesota dairy farmer I am proud to be a part of the Super School Breakfast program. About 140,000 school-age students will benefit from this program and that's Super

Thanks to Midwest Dairy and the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee for inviting Bremer Farms to the celebration.





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Country Christmas Connection Reveal

I love shopping, and meeting new people, and Christmas, so when I heard of a "Secret Santa" gift exchange among fellow agriculture bloggers, I knew I just had to sign up. That was three years ago and I'm still participating.

Here's an explanation of how it works-
After getting paired up with my new blogger friend, I scour her blog learning about her, her interests, where she lives- you know, anything that helps me find that perfect gift. My "Secret Santa" is doing the same- checking out my blog. I then send a gift to my new blogger friend, and likewise, another blogger sends to me. Our mission is to explore new blogs, and this is such a fun way to do it.


My "Secret Santa" is Jenny from Illinois. You can find her blog at The Magic Farmhouse.
Jenny really did her research, as every gift (individually wrapped, I might add) is tied into something she read or saw on my blog. Jenny, your detective skills would make even Sherlock Holmes jealous!
Gift #1 was a gingerbread house kit since our family loves sharing Christmas with others, and this year daughter Sara made large gingerbread cut-outs to decorate our yard. 


Gift #2 was a bag of pecans for the next time I make Grandma Schaar's Pecan Ice Cream topping. #3 was an Illinois Corn can cozi which lead Jenny to share about her farm. Surprise #4 shared the fact that Jenny and are NOT coffee drinkers. Yum-hot chocolate packets for our cold winters! Gift #5 was the book Youtility by Jay Baer, and #6 was a sweet bookmark, and #7 was a John Grisham book which By-the-way I have not read even though John Grisham is one of my favorite authors! 


#8 was the sweetest gift- a sugar cookie recipe because Jenny discovered I love to bake, especially Christmas Cookies. But the sweetest part is the recipe is one her son found on the internet but tweaked to perfection! Lastly, #9 was a "Favorite Farmer" travel mug complete with instructions to enter a video contest highlighting our love of agriculture. In Jenny's final note she even included some family history photos from their farm. I love family history! 


Thanks Jenny for all the thoughtful gifts. You made my Christmas even merrier!


Special thanks to Darleen from Guernsey Dairy Mama
and also
Jenny from The Magic Farmhouse
for organizing the Country Christmas Connection.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016, Gone But Not Forgotten

2016 Top Ten Most Viewed Blog Posts
My Barnyard View
If you haven't read them, click on the post title and you'll be there.

10. P Is For Planting I planted corn for the first time in our nearly 33 years of marriage. Here is how planting is done, from a rookies point of view.


9. G Is For Greek Yogurt What's the difference between Greek yogurt and traditional yogurt? Also find out why I almost named this blog, "G is for Good Gosh, Why Do We Farm?"


8. T Is For Teeth and Trivia Do cows bite? I get this question a lot. I also share other cow trivia in this blog post.


7. F Is For Farmer John There is a familiar saying, "If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life." I believe this is Farmer John's motto.


6. X, Y, Z, All Done After blogging every day during June Dairy Month, and as June Dairy Month draws to a close, I hope you have come to realize how passionate my family and I are about the farming lifestyle we live. I also included the top ten reasons I love dairy.


5. L Is For Local Did you know that milk travels from my farm to a grocery store within 48 hours? Also, I share how you can find out where the milk you buy comes from.


4. D Is For Dairy3ForMe A letter to Fair Oaks Elementary where I shared my story of life on a dairy farm to 437 students and their teachers. What is Dairy3ForMe and what did the students pledge to do?


3. I Is For Ice Cream (With Topping and History) I share a bit of family history about Farmer John's grandparents who farmed, and also Grandma Schaar's Butter Pecan Sauce recipe. Yummy!


2. Miss America, The Farm Girl I was invited to attend a gathering to meet Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell as she visited a local dairy farm. She's a farm girl too who shared her passion of "Healthy Children, Strong America."


1. Saying Goodbye To Mom I still cry each time I read this post. This was a tough year, as my Mom passed away just one week before I spent the next 14 days at the Minnesota State Fair fulfilling my duties as the State Dairy Princess Coordinator. Through the love and care from all of you, I  moved forward just as Mom would have wanted, as she also shared my dairy passion as a fellow farmer. It makes my heart smile to know that so many of you read my tribute to her, therefore putting this post as the most read of 2016. I am thankful to each of you!


Thank you for continuing to follow me and my family on our journey as we go through life as passionate and proud dairy farmers. 

PS- Have you checked out my other social media sites?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Santa On Bremer Farms

Kate, our littlest visitor to see Santa at Bremer Farms.
The weather was not very cooperative so we had to reschedule, but Santa on the Farm was a huge success!


This year, for the first time, we played host to Santa and Mrs. Claus at our farm. We invited folks to visit with this popular couple, 


view our Christmas decorations, 


and bring along a donation for our local food shelf, or a cash donation for The Great American Milk Drive. We got LOTS of donations including nearly $300 for the milk drive. 

So what is The Great American Milk Drive?
Milk is one of the most-requested, yet least-donated items.
On average, clients receive the equivalent of less than 1 gallon per person per year. That’s because while Americans are generous with canned and dry goods, many don’t think to donate milk because it’s perishable. Your small donation will deliver a gallon of milk to a family in need in your local community.
 Even though Santa and Mrs. Claus have returned home to the North Pole, you can easily donate online. Click here- The Great American Milk Drive.
We were thrilled by the response to our first "Santa on the Farm" and Santa and his lovely bride, Mrs. Claus have agreed to visit again next December, so it's official, "Santa on the Farm" will be an annual event at Bremer Farms!

Here's a peek of what you missed-

Friday, December 30, 2016

Visiting Square Deal Dairy

One of a farmers favorite vacation destinations is other farms. I know, it sounds rather silly to see how others work while taking a break from your own, but that's what we farmers do. Yesterday I met up with Haley Hinrichs, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, to take a "mini" vacation. We traveled 20 minutes from  Bremer Farms to tour Square Deal Dairy, this years recipient of the Minnesota Producer of the Year Award.

Chicky was our gracious tour guide, showing Haley and I where the calves were born. We next saw where they lived in individual hutches until they grew bigger and were moved to larger pens. 

We then visited the free stall barn where the milk cows live. These barns provide fresh air, room to move freely about, and a fresh supply of water and feed at all times. These free stall barns provide soft, clean bedding made from recycled manure. Yes, you read that right! Sustainability is important on a dairy farm, so the moisture is removed from the cow manure in order to make bedding which will later be used as fertilizer on their crops. Pretty smart! 

The Otte's have a well orchestrated plan of moving their animals to appropriate facilities as the cattle's size and needs change. But every step of the way they are clean, comfortable and well cared for. 

Princess Kay 2016 Haley Hinrichs with Chicky and Blake Otte and sons.

Our last stop was the milking parlor (barn). The Otte family milks 450 cows, three times a day with the help of 12 employees. I loved how quiet and content the cows were while being milked.

Something else I loved about our "vacation" was the obvious care and concern the Otte's showed for their sons desires to farm. Many years before the boys were old enough to make career choices, Blake and Chicky made it clear to their sons that they would all be expected to get an education as well as work two years away from their family farm. "It's a big commitment to become a farmer, and we wanted to make sure they didn't regret their decision by not exploring other options," said Chicky. Obviously this was a great recommendation, as all three of their sons have returned to farm, each taking on a specific role. 

Thanks for the tour Chicky and family, and congratulations to Square Deal Dairy for being named Minnesota Producer of the Year!

I have included a video, complements of Midwest Dairy, featuring the Otte family and Square Deal Dairy. (It's almost as good as being there...on a "mini" vacation!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas As A Child

 This Christmas Eve, as I am "celebrating" at home with a terrible cold, eating my soup while bundled up under a warm blanket, I'm thinking back to all the wonderful memories of Christmas Eve when I was a child. I'm sharing this previous post with you, and wishing you a
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Eve day began as usual, except for the fact that my mom was probably putting the finishing touches on the matching dresses she had sewn for my sister and I to wear that night. My dad started farm chores early on Christmas Eve afternoon. Calf feeding and milking began about an hour earlier than usual so that we could get to the annual Sunday School Christmas Eve program on time. My sister, brother, and I each got to open one gift before church. It was often a new pair of socks or something else that we needed to complete our holiday attire. Mom rushed us kids off to church, while dad stayed home to finish the milking, only to slip into the back pew just in time for the program to begin.


 

My dad's family is close, and I mean close. Besides getting along very well, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all lived within five miles of our farm. Each of my uncles were dairy farmers too. We all went to the same church too, so all our Christmas Eve schedules were quite similar. After church, we all invaded  Grandma and Grandpa's home. The 16 grandchildren couldn't wait to dig into the Christmas gifts, but we had to wait until after digging into the feast that the mom's had prepared. Due to our dairy farmer schedules, Christmas Eve dinner was after church. While the moms cleaned up the dishes, the kids separated the gifts into piles for each person. We each got a gift from the family member who was lucky enough to draw our name from the hat on Thanksgiving Day, when we were all together to celebrate "turkey day." Of course there was always a gift from Grandma and Grandpa too. Often times we each received a pad of rainbow colored paper, and we always patiently waited for Grandma to hand each of us an envelope with $2.00 tucked inside!


As midnight quickly approached, it was time for some of the mom's to return to church to sing in the church choir for the Midnight Carol Service. Grandpa was comfortable in his tan leather rocker, smoking his pipe, while the dad's each found a spot on the couches to take a little nap. The cousins, however, were exploring the newly received gifts and sharing their hopes for what Santa would deliver the next morning.

I'm the one in the burgundy jumper with the cool glasses.
Faith, family, and farming, it was a perfect way for our family to celebrate Christmas Eve. What childhood memories do you have?