Knollbrook Farm: A Day with the “Girls”

By Lindsay Martin, Ball State Dietetic Intern

Prior to this week, I had never been to a dairy farm.  I am 25 years old and it was finally time to make my first visit!  My wonderful colleague and I took a road trip to visit “the girls”, also known as dairy cows, in Goshen, Indiana.  Knollbrook Farm, owned by the hard-working Adam family, kindly welcomed and showed us all the effort and care going into producing milk.

As I made my way to the cow’s parlor to visit some of the cows, I noticed other cows were enjoying grazing on grass in the pasture.  I went to the farm at the perfect time; the local veterinarian was performing health check-ups  that same morning.  The veterinarian comes every 6 weeks to ensure the health of every cow and calf.  I must say, the cows are extremely friendly and cute—they loved to “kiss” our salty hands.  I now understand why people have antique cow collectibles as home décor; the girls have a way stealing your heart.  Continue reading

March is Women’s History Month- Let’s SHOUT OUT to the Ladies

By DeDe Hausman

The 2011 theme for WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH is: OUR HISTORY IS OUR STRENGTH.   Women unite families, communities, and nations and have for centuries.  That’s why this celebration was designated in 1980 by joint resolutions of the House and Senate and by proclamations by FIVE American Presidents.  It’s an opportunity to celebrate women’s unique historical achievements.

Usually honorees are recognized for national achievements but this year local organizations and institutions have been asked to recognize and honor women within their own communities who have shown courage, strength and creativity during challenging times.  And considering the economic climate of our country we should recognize women who are making a difference.

In the past, women’s achievements weren’t recognized.  Many female endeavors were undervalued or even dismissed entirely.  Thank heavens many people now place men and women’s successes on equal footing.  It doesn’t make a difference what gender a person is; what makes a difference is what a person has accomplished especially during challenging times.

In my 16 years working for the dairy industry I can think of many female dairy farmers who have made or are making a difference in their communities and in our state.  One in particular that comes to mind is LuAnn Troxel, of Hanna, Indiana.  She became a dairy farmer 27 years ago when she married her husband, Tom, who had been a dairyman for 13 prior years.  For years she has been an advocate for our industry.  Many a time she has welcomed “city folk” to their farm and makes sure they leave knowing all about the dairy industry.  She loves dairy farmers and feels they are practical, hard-working people who care about their animals while protecting the environment.  And she’s always touting the healthful benefits of dairy products.  On top of that she is currently the president of Indiana Professional Dairy Producers (IPDP), which is an organization that promotes a profitable, positive and professional image of Indiana Dairy Producers.  In years to come LuAnn’s achievements in and for our industry will be well-documented.

I’m sure you can think of many women in your communities who have made or are making a difference.  Go to (National Women’s History Project) for more info and let’s recognize what women have done or are doing to benefit our communities, our country and possibly our world.


March is Agriculture Appreciation Month in Indiana

Events and contests will shine the spotlight on Hoosier farmers and the food they grow

For Immediate Release

INDIANAPOLIS (February 22, 2011) Governor Mitch Daniels has declared March Agriculture Appreciation Month in Indiana. The Hoosier celebration is an extension of National Ag Week, March 13-19.

The official proclamation reads, in part:

WHEREAS, the foundation of Indiana agriculture, farm production, occurs on 61,000 farms representing 14.8 million acres of farmland in the state; and

WHEREAS, the Hoosier farmer, a symbol of strength and strong moral fiber, has displayed ingenuity in times of prosperity and perseverance in the face of hardships, while supplying our state, our nation and the world with an abundance of high quality agriculture goods and products; and…

In honor of the month and in recognition of the significant economic and cultural contributions agriculture makes to the Hoosier state, Indiana’s Family of Farmers (IFoF), a coalition of more than a dozen ag-related organizations, will sponsor a series of events and initiatives during Agriculture Appreciation Month, including:

Indiana’s Family of Farmers Statehouse Reception
Monday, March 7, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
IFoF will kick-off Agriculture Appreciation Month with a luncheon reception and special presentation in the Statehouse North Atrium. Lt. Governor Becky Skillman will announce the winners of the ag essay contest and Morgan Dawson, Indiana FFA State President, will read the official Agriculture Appreciation Month proclamation.

Pets & Farm animals: Love them all the same?

Guest Post By Farmer Leontien van de Laar

Sometimes people come to our large dairy and when we take them to see our cows, every now and then one of our cats will pop up and will literally beg for attention. Usually the question that follows after he (he’s huge and black) shows off is:

Do you have any pets?

My answer:  Yes we do.

And yes, there is a difference between our pets and our farm animals.

But it is not as black and white as some of our cows are… Or maybe it is.

We love our dog because no matter how bad of a day I have had, he is always happy to see me.

We love our cows because they provide food for 155 households in one day.

We love my horse, because I can hug and talk to him as long as I want and he always listens.

We love our cows because they provide food for 155 households in one day.

We love our cats because I can watch them for hours playing or chasing a leaf blown by the wind.

We love our cows because they provide food for 155 households in one day.

We spend 24 hours a day taking care of our cows: provide them with the best quality feed, make sure they are as comfortable as possible, milk them 3 times a day, have a hoof trimmer, nutritionist and veterinarian who come every week to check our cows.

In my opinion it’s simple; just because our cows are not in my house, I didn’t give them crazy made up names, or I don’t pet every single one of them, or I don’t have a special cushion on my sofa where she can lay down, or I don’t walk them 3 times a day, or buy toys for her to play with, it doesn’t mean I care less about our cows than I do our pets.

I love my cows because at the end of the day when I go home to my horse, dog and cats I KNOW our cows will provide food for 155 households the next day, and the next day and the next day– if I keep making sure they have the best possible life here on this large dairy.

So, every evening I go home and play a bit with my dog, hug my horse and watch the cats jump from one snow pile to the other and ponder about my day and the day to come, worrying about caring for our cows and worrying about how to provide for my family, because a farmers life isn’t easy…And later that evening I will wonder about the fact that I will see commercials on TV for DIET FOOD for dogs and why people still look at me (as a farmer), and think I’m the one who doing harm to animals.

 I love our pets, they are my pleasure.

But I love my cows more because they feed the world.

For me it’s black and white, like my cow Berta 1127.

Getting to Know Deb O.


What do you do at Indiana Dairy?

I am the General Manager.  I focus on our organization’s vision, mission, goals, strategies, staff and budgets.  I work with our dairy farmer board of directors.  I participate in our senior leadership team comprised of staff from our national and state and regional dairy promotion organizations.  Occasionally I go into a recording studio to tape radio spots featuring our events and Every Single Day dairy image campaign.


What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is the people with whom I work.  Agriculture is a small community and dairy is a small neighborhood within that community.  Everyone is so passionate about producing food.  I especially enjoy visiting dairy farmers on their farms and seeing first-hand how they care for their animals and the land.  They take pride in what they do.  They love their cows.  So many times over the years dairy men and women have told me how they love working together with their families on their farms producing food for others.  I’m very passionate about them and about spreading the good nutrition news about their product:  milk.


Tell us a little about yourself

I have a BS degree with a double major in Business Administration and Marketing.  I’ve worked for Indiana’s dairy farmers in dairy promotion for over 30 years.  I am very passionate about representing dairy farmers and the food they produce.

I am a lifelong Hoosier.  I grew up in St. Joseph County, where the plentiful lake effect snow teaches you to learn to enjoy it.  My husband and I live in a rural community not too far from Indianapolis and are active in our church.  We also participate in our community band.  I play a flute in the band and he runs the sound system.  I enjoy working with animals.  I have geese, a cat and a dog.  I’ve owned horses and goats as well.  My very elderly Arabian mare recently passed away.  It was tough losing her, but I was blessed with 22 years of caring for her.  She and I even shared the same birthday.  I enjoy watching and identifying the birds of Indiana as well as in other parts of the country when traveling.


Tell us a little about someone who has influenced your life and why?


My mother influenced my life a great deal.  I wish she was living to read this.  She would be proud and gratified.  She was very bright, funny, kind and caring.  A polio survivor, she lived her life and raised two children, kept a home, entertained guests, had her own child-care business and traveled the country—all this and much more from her wheelchair.  And she did all this long before accessibility issues were on anyone’s radar screen.   I’m so proud of her and so blessed that she was my mother.  She was my teacher and role model.


Do you have a favorite recipe or restaurant to share?

Bonge’s is my favorite restaurant.  Check them out at  The food is fabulous and people travel many miles to enjoy that dining experience.  Fortunately I live nearby.

On the Farm

By Deb Osza
One of the activities I enjoy most about my job is getting to visit dairy farms. I love animals and cows are one of my favorites. This week, our team visited Four-Leaf Clover Dairy in Geneva Indiana. The dairy is owned by Leontien Oostdijck – Vandelaar and her family. The Vandelaar family immigrated to America from the Netherlands and is adjusting well to life in Indiana.

Leontien and her family began operating Four Leaf Clover Dairy three years ago this month. The family operation also has 21 employees. Their primary focus is on quality. During our tour of the farm, Leontien showed us how the family cares for their cows and the land to produce high quality milk. Cows get regular pedicures at Four-Leaf Clover. Cows get a foot bath every three days and a hoof trimmer comes in once a week. The cows are in the milking parlor for about 5 to 10 minutes each session, and are milked three times a day. The cows and workers both stand on thick rubber mats during the process so everyone’s comfortable. Sand beds add to cow comfort. Cows spend much of their time relaxing in their beds. The cow’s sand beds are fluffed three times a day with new sand added once a week. The sand beds are like a day at the beach.

We also learned that this dairy is the first facility in the state of Indiana to operate under the Direct Load system, which means all that milk is pumped right from the cow directly to one of three tanker trailers parked at the facility. The really cool thing about this system is the cooling! In just minutes the milk is chilled to 34 degrees. It comes from the cow at her body temperature of about 101.5 degrees. This system also saves on water and cleaning supplies so it is very ‘green.’

When Leontien is not busy with the farm, she blogs. Check out Four-Leaf Clover Tales at . She also has a cooking blog called A Farmers Recipe at I tried her recipe: Boerenkool met Nootjes en Brie…I call it Kale and Mash with Nuts and Brie. Very yummy (though I’m convinced some of my family would think I’d ruined the mashed potatoes by adding Kale, nuts and brie, they would be wrong). This traditional Dutch dish is something I plan to make again. I have Kale in the fridge right now.

The Vandelaars’ are especially appreciative when people stop by to look over their dairy operation. If you can’t make a visit to the farm, visit them online at and E-dopt a cow! You can sign up and get a link to an 8″x10″ photo of “your” cow and a Certificate of Edoption that you can save and print. Then, you can check out the website each month to learn about ‘your’ cows’ life on the farm.

Milk Myths

You deserve to hear the real story about dairy production from those who know it best…America’s dairy farmers. With less than 2 percent of the U.S. population involved in farming today, many people don’t have the opportunity to visit a dairy farm.

Add the fact that most people are three to four generations removed from the farm, and you find a pretty big information gap. The below information from hard-working dairy men and women will help bring dairy farm practices to life.

Myth: All milk contains antibiotics, except organic.

Fact: All milk is carefully tested for antibiotics. Any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately, and does not enter into the food supply.

  • Sometimes it’s necessary for farmers to treat cows with antibiotics when they are ill, just as humans sometimes need medication when they are sick.
  • All milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and processing plant. Any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately and does not get into the food supply.
  • The U.S. dairy industry conducts more than 3.3 million tests each year on all milk entering dairy plants to ensure that antibiotics are kept out of the milk supply. According to the most recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data, less than one tanker in 3,000 tests positive for any animal drug residues, including antibiotics. In those rare cases, any milk that tests positive is disposed of immediately and does not get into the food supply.
  • The milk testing system provides dairy farmers strong incentives to keep their milk free of antibiotics. Any milk that tests positive for antibiotics is immediately dumped. In such cases, the farmer responsible for the milk is required to pay for the full tanker of milk.
  • Milk and dairy products are among the most stringently regulated foods in this country.

Myth: Today’s dairy cow is treated like nothing more than a milk machine.

Fact: Dairy cows must be healthy and well cared for in order to produce pure, wholesome milk.

  • Farmers employ professional nutritionists to develop a scientifically formulated, balanced and nutritious diet for their cows. Diets include hay, grains, protein sources, and vitamins and minerals.
  • Dairy cows receive regular veterinary care, including periodic check-ups, preventative vaccinations and prompt treatment of illness.
  • The dairy industry has in place a number of initiatives that demonstrate commitment to animal well-being. The National Dairy FARM Program™ is a nationwide, verifiable program that addresses animal well-being. Third-party verification ensures the validity and the integrity of the program to our customers and consumers.
  • Dairy farmers depend on healthy cows for their livelihood.

Myth: The reason the price of milk is going up in the grocery store is so dairy farmers can get rich.

Fact: Price increases for dairy, and all foods, beverages and other goods, are tied to dramatic increases in energy/fuel, distribution, transportation, feed, and supply costs.

  • Dairy farmers only receive about 30 cents of every dollar.
  • Market forces, like demand, impact the price of milk at the grocery store,
  • Farmers are seeing a lot of cost increases in producing milk, including feed and transportation. These cost increases have left slim margins for dairy farmers in recent years.
  • Want to learn more? Click here to view our fact sheets about life on the farm.