Holiday Family Traditions

milk and cookiesBy Diane Ruyack

What a special time of the year to have family traditions.  Obviously, putting up the Christmas tree, either  chop one down or drag it out of storage and put it up is one of those traditions.  Have hot chocolate and cookies to go with decorating.  Giving an ornament to each child every year (mark them with name and date) is fun and a great starter for their future family Christmases.  Some people then have a slumber party under the tree with even Dad participating!  Cookie and baking days are so special!  Teaching children how to cook is a blessing and letting them be creative in decorating with frosting, sprinkles, etc is also great fun.  But eating them with a big cold glass of milk is best of all!

Checking out the Christmas lights and going to the top of the City County building in Indy is a highlight for our family. Another family tradition is an advent calendar where everyone takes a turn to open one of the tiny little doors to see what is inside. This helps young children learn about waiting.  Having a special menu after Christmas eve service is a way to keep cultural foods handed down from one generation to the next.  Many people have special soups, pasta dishes, and/or desserts.  Reading the Christmas story before bedtime is a terrific way to remember the reason for the season. Start Christmas off with homemade rolls, pancakes shaped as snowmen, brunch casseroles that can be made beforehand and baked Christmas morning.  Try waffles with ice cream and  if you haven’t tried peppermint ice cream, you haven’t lived!

Making your own gifts such as homemade cookies, candy in a basket or festive plate or cards is another terrific way to be creative and stay on budget. There are all kinds of traditions that make Christmas  the most special of holidays!

Droughts May Affect More Than You Think

By Sarah Wagler, Wagler Dairy Farm, Morgantown

Remember that kid’s song, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day…”? Boy, we sure weren’t singing that nursery rhyme this year! Instead, we were praying every day for rain!

Hi! My name is Sarah Wagler, and my husband and his family dairy farm in Brown County. Every day, we work hard to help our cows produce wholesome, nutritious, delicious milk!

This summer required harder work because of the drought. This year started out beautiful and our crops were growing great and were a wonderful shade of green. Then it stopped raining.

Personally, the drought gave me a little vacation from mowing the grass, but that is probably the only perk! When I looked out our front door, my flowers were brown, our grass was brown, the crops lost their wonderful shade of green and weren’t growing and our ponds were getting lower and lower. Just like your flowers and vegetables were probably not doing as well this summer, more than the looks of our crops were hurt too.

The drought drastically affected the nutritional value and yield of our crops. Simply, our crops didn’t make as much and what they did make is not as nutritious. So what does this mean? It means we are going to have to feed more to achieve the same value.

Many homes and livestock producers in Brown County water themselves and their animals out of ponds or off of springs. No rain equals no pond or spring water, which means no water for the animals. That is one horrible equation!

What made it even worse for us was that our lactating cows—the cows we milk three times a day—drink a lot of water, about a bath tub full every day! It makes sense when you think that milk is over 85% water. So what did we do? We moved water, we moved water, and we moved water! For our lactating cows, we pumped water from one pond to the actual pond we utilize for water. For our younger animals out on pasture, we would truck water to troughs—big holding containers that are low enough for the cows to drink from.

Going along with the lack of rain, the extreme heat also decreases the amount of milk our cows give every day. Boy, it is scary to think how many things are linked to the weather. I guess the vacation from mowing was the only perk. All we can do now is pray for better weather next year!

September 24th – Family Day!

By Mary Nicholson

September 24, 2012 is not only my father-in-law’s 81st birthday, it’s also Family Day.  What’s that?  Family Day is a national initiative to remind parents that what your kids really want at the dinner table is YOU!  Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia™) has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. Not only that, but another benefit is that most people eat more balanced meals and a wider variety of foods when they eat with family or friends.  Eating a wider variety of foods helps ensure a better intake of nutrients.

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Farming with Grandpa

By Kimmi Devaney

It’s no secret I am passionate about the dairy industry. After all, this industry has given me so many joys and opportunities over the years. However, none of it would be possible without one special man in my life—my grandpa.

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A Day Gone to the Dogs- National Dog Day


August 26th – A day that has gone to the dogs! It is National Dog Day! This is a special day for dogs and dog lovers that is celebrated annually in the United States. I am an animal lover and especially love dogs. Gunther, my dog who should have his own reality show, has provided me with so much happiness.

He also causes me a little stress. He likes to get into the trash, ignores me when I say ‘Gunther come!’, eats whatever he can get is grubby little paws on, and the list goes on and on. He also will only eat his dog food if it is mixed with cottage cheese. I don’t blame him, because I do love cottage cheese plus it’s high in protein and calcium. (But he doesn’t know that- he is just being difficult.)

This little brown 30 pound ball of fur is a handful. This is one of the many reasons why I have an immense respect for dairy farmers. Not only does the average Indiana dairy farmer take care of  100 + cows that weigh about 1400 pounds a piece, they help produce a wholesome product for the Hoosier state! A dairy cow helps feed the world. Gunther eats my shoes.

What he does provide is great companionship and happens to be a great motivator to go for a run or walk. After all, dogs are man’s best friend, right? If you need a couple more reasons to have a dog let me rattle off some for you:

  • If you drop food on the floor- they will clean it right up!
  • They are always happy to see you.
  • They listen and provide unconditional love.
  • They help teach responsibility.

If you have always wanted to adopt a dog but just never found the right time to do so – today is the day!

Are You Ready for the 4th of July?

To get you in the proper mood for this blog, please start with this:

Now I could probably stop right here, and we’d be fine.  But there is more to this major American holiday than a rousing march.  There are fireworks (in less dry weather)!  And parades!  And picnics!

In June of 1776, the original thirteen colonies’ Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, where a document was drafted to formally sever ties with Great Britain. This document was crafted by Thomas Jefferson, the most eloquent writer on the committee charged with this task.  Eighty-six changes later, the final version of the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4.  Copies were distributed the following day and the Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to print this historic document in its July 6 edition.

The first public readings of the Declaration of Independence were held on July 8, 1776, in Philadelphia’s Independence Square.  Bells were rung and band music was played; the following year, bonfires and fireworks were added to the celebration.  This type of festivity grew and spread throughout our young nation, becoming more common at the end of the War of 1812 with Great Britain.

In 1870, Congress established Independence Day as a holiday, which Congress reaffirmed in 1938.

Communities large and small across the country mark this major summer holiday with parades, firework displays, picnics and the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” and marches by John Philip Sousa.

One Indiana town, in particular, has a special meaning on July 4.  Patriot, Indiana – population 209 – can’t help but enjoy a day that celebrates the patriot in all of us.  Located on the Ohio River in southeastern Indiana, Patriot is also home to Dr. Elwood Mead who supervised the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930’s.  Hoover Dam impedes Lake Mead, named after him.

So now that we know why we’re celebrating, the question becomes how are you going to celebrate this great day?  Since the Fourth falls on a Wednesday this year, my family’s celebrating will a little smaller than those that fall on a weekend.  I don’t have my menu planned just yet, but it will definitely include watermelon; that’s about the only time of year my husband will eat it.  I think watermelon just fits so well into the red, white, and blue theme.  Need some ideas yourself for fun Fourth of July foods?  Abby, our dietetic intern, has a cute idea here:

How about a Patriotic Parfait?

Both of these ideas are colorful, fun, and nutritious!  And why not top off your Fourth of July meal with a cold glass of milk and some very special cookies?

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!