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Wow…here we are February 2015. I can not believe that my last post was on 4/29/14. I am so sorry that I have been away from my blog for so long. As I have said before, I love blogging. I believe that blogging gave me the confidence to start Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese and Milk. I never would believe that it would continue to grow and become what it has today. I am still running the dairy and Dairy Goddess. I am spread very thin and so the time for blogging has been difficult. 2014 was a great and exciting year. So many wonderful changes have blessed our life. I will break down the past year to get you up to speed.

January 2014 – After 2 months of marriage, my daughter Tara, also my right hand in running the daily business of Dairy Goddess found out that she and her husband Shane would be having a baby. My first grand child. I can not tell you the joy this brought to all of us. I was craving a new baby to bless us and the start of the 5th generation on our farm. Tara announces pregnancy

 

February 2014- We began making our California Style Curds in Plain and Seasoned. They are great as a snack and they melt beautifully and make a great addition to your favorite “cheesy” recipes.

March 2014- We began raising free range chickens! What started out as a hobby for Tony, he LOVES little chicks, actually any baby critter steals his heart. He kept bring home little chicks and we all know what happens…they grow up…. Dairy Goddess Farmstead Eggs was born…”We love’m like our Cows”  eggs in carton

 

April 2014- Tony and I celebrated our 31st Wedding Anniversary. We also found out the our 1st grandchild was going to be a GIRL!

Tara Baby Cake announcement

May 2014- We got our 3rd Refrigeration van, or as I like to call it…Chariot for Dairy Goddess to transport her goodness!

DG Van 3

 

June 2014- A.J. finds out that he was accepted as a transfer student for Veterinarian Medicine at Oklahoma State University. We were all so thrilled that he would be closer to home.  We knew at that moment that we would be able to go and visit which we did in October for OSU’s homecoming. What a blast that was and we were so lucky to get to go with my cousins, the Walton’s. Their son Brandon is completing his undergrad there.

OKC AJ OSU homecoming 2014

 

July 2014- Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese wins 1st place in the flavored-fresh cheese category  for our “Valley” (Peaches, Almonds, & Honey) Fromage Blanc, at the American Cheese Society Awards in Sacramento, CA. What an honor! To win among the many other great entries made us so very proud.   ACS Cheese Awards

August 2014- Dairy Goddess celebrated it’s 4th year in business.

September 2014- It was all hustle and bustle for Dairy Goddess as we prepared for Tara and Shane’s baby to arrive. Tara does so much for DG so we needed our ducks in a row. We were all getting so excited to meet Baby Girl Rodrigues!

October 2014- Finally on the 8th of October, God blessed us with our newest Little Goddess, Delilah Dolores Rodrigues. She was perfect. She completely stole our hearts and is the very center of our life. Barbara and Delilah Hospital

November 2014- It was only a month after Delilah joined our clan but we had prepared and completed a 3rd Party Audit for Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese and Milk. It was a two day inspection to make sure we are doing everything possible to bring our customers the best quality products produced in compliance of the state and major store chains. We also decided to upgrade our website and invite you to take a look at it. We are very proud of how it turned out.

December 2014- I had made the tough decision to leave my Board of Director seat for the California Milk Advisory Board I loved serving the dairy farmers in California. It was important to me to be a voice for my fellow dairymen and to do my best to direct that our milk marketing dollars were being spent thoughtfully and assuring their hard earned money was being put to good use to market the milk that they produce. As Dairy Goddess has grown I realized that I would not be able to give 100 percent to that seat’s responsibility. We had a beautiful dinner and so many kind words were said and I truly felt appreciated for the 6 years that I had served.  CMAB apprecation certificate

January 2015- We started 2015 with a bang! We baptized our sweet Delilah and then were off to San Francisco for the Winter Fancy Food Show this is the largest food and beverage show on the West Coast. It was amazing and felt very successful. We could not believe how many fabulous products from around the world that were there and how large the show itself was. We were proud to be a part of it. Fancy food show 2015

 

One of my New Years Resolutions is to blog more…I promise to work on that. I love sharing our life with you. I appreciate you taking the time to visit this blog and my website. I would love for you to like my Facebook Page too. That is a quick way to stay in touch with our latest shenanigans!

One last thought. We are still in a terrible drought here in California. We have had a bit of rain and hoping for a wet February. We ask for you to keep us in your thoughts and prayers as all of Agriculture in California is suffering and if we do not get rain and also reform for water in this state it will affect us all. This drought is truly a crisis.

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As you know. Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese and Milk was created by me. Partly as a dream to create products from our cows milk but also out of desperation during the worst economic time in our dairy industry. Trying whatever we could to save our farm.

With the help and support of my husband Tony, my daughter Tara we have done a pretty good job. I am very proud of what we have accomplished in two and a half short years.

I am proud to announce that we just made it into the Northern California Whole Foods 35 plus stores with my Non-Homogenized, Low Pasteurized Whole Milk and Chocolate Milk along with Dairy Goddess Fromage Blanc Cheese. If you are in that region…please go in and tell them you LOVE Dairy Goddess. The real key to this success is to receive and maintain those re-orders.

I have expanded my tiny little plant and product as I have gone along. Dairy Goddess does not have a marketing team. I do not have an advertising budget. We do EVERYTHING ourselves. With that said. I am asking you to help me out. Please go to Fresno Food Expo’s Website (click here) Like their page. Then look at all of the wonderful new San Joaquin Valley New Products that will be highlighted at the Fresno Food Expo on March 14th. Then please LIKE each of my products. I have the Whole Milk / Whole Chocolate Milk and Cheese. Click the like by each of those pictures and that is all you have to do and sharing that with your friends would also be appreciated. This type of promotion is what has got me to where I am now. It is hard to get reach without professionals helping, but with your assistance I could not be happier!

I am the little ant that could….and this ant is going to do her best to keep going!

Thanking you in advance for your help…remember LIKE all Three Dairy Goddess Products by clicking the “thumbs-up” next to it’s picture.

Photo from Hanford Sentinel article

Dairy Goddess LogoImage

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Women In Dairy Conference – November 7, 2012

Women in Dairy Pennsylvania – Penn State Extension

Last year we had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful group of dairy farmers from Pennsylvania that were visiting California dairy farms. Our dairy was one of their stops. Tony and I shared our dairy and our cheese plant and the debut our chocolate milk. I had the opportunity to speak to them and shared our struggles with the dairy business and operating a dairy products plant.

A couple months later I received an email asking if I would be interested in being the Keynote speaker at their Women in Dairy Conference being held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I reminded them that I was not a professional speaker. She said that it was the ladies from the tour that suggested me as the speaker. I was flattered and frightened at the same time.

They also asked if I could sit on a panel for blogging. That, I thought, no problem. I feel comfortable with blogging. I admit I do not know a lot of the technical things associated with blogging but I do feel comfortable sharing my message and I realize the importance of getting your story out and not let others speak for you. Especially in the dairy industry.

I agreed to do it. I admit, a bit reluctantly. It seemed so far away. I really didn’t know where I would be with my business. I didn’t know how I was going to manage to get away. I didn’t know how to put together a keynote address. I had seen plenty of wonderful speakers in my day. I was especially moved when I had seen Dr. Scott Vernon from Cal Poly SLO give his keynote address at the California Women in Agriculture convention earlier this year. I was challenged and I like that. I decided to do it!

Months before, and up to just before departure I was agonizing over my decision. One day it was, “how exciting” the next day was “what the heck did I get myself into”. I was worried about letting those ladies down. I knew it was too late to back out now. I dug my heels in and resolved to do my best.

I would hole myself up and write, rewrite, write and write some more. It is very rewarding putting your life on paper. I also created my first power point! Accepting challenges and learning new things, isn’t that what life is about?

Penn State Extension is an outreach program of the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. They provide educational programs for dairy producers, their employees, and advisers. (click here to see the great programs that they offer) They do a great job. They are professional and work very hard. It is very clear that they like what they do and they like working with these dairy farmers. I felt their devotion and respect for the dairy farmers that they served.

There is nothing easy about getting to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from Fresno, California. I departed at night on November 5th. I arrived, after a couple of plane changes, in the morning of November 6th. It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful place. I would not let my weary body get me down. I had to go explore. Explore I did. I want to thank Unique Limousine of Harrisburg, PA. I called them at the last minute. They asked what I was interested in seeing. Offered me a very fair price and picked me up right away to escort me on my adventure. I got to visit the Central Market in Lancaster, PA It is the oldest, continuously ran, farmers market in the nation. A perfect stop for me right? I enjoyed introducing myself to the farmers/vendors there and they were kind and warm. I even got a hug from a lovely Mennonite vendor. I was driven through the beautiful countryside enjoying the farms and got a glimpse of Amish life. I drove through Hershey, PA, the “sweetest town in America” and yes the street lights are the shape of Hershey’s kisses. The whole time, as I was enjoying this, I kept telling myself how much Tony would love to see this and vowed to come back and spend more time.

After my full day I got to enjoy dinner with some of the Penn State Extension team. We also went to a pre-conference reception that evening.  It was nice to have this “warm-up” because that moment was here and there was no turning back now.

After a surprisingly good nights sleep, that moment, that I had agonized for so long, was now here. I admit, I was glad that I was up first. When I was done I felt great relief and satisfaction. Mission accomplished! I had wonderful feed back and response and felt embraced. One very nice young lady said that I had “set the tone” for the conference. I was happy that I did not disappoint. These are hard-working dairy women. They are busy working on the farms, milking cows, raising calves and taking care of their families. I wanted it to be worth their time and I didn’t want to disappoint the ladies that suggested me for the job.

I was happy to share my life. I believe they realized, like I did, that even though we might run our dairies differently. We might have more or less cows to take care of. We share to same goals and struggles in our lives. At the end of the day our lives are consumed with the care and well-being of not only our families but our animals.

Sitting on the blogging panel was fun. It is always fun to share the rewards and challenges of blogging. I got to sit on the panel with Raechel Sattazahn. She did a great job sharing her blog, Go Beyond the Barn Blog please check it out. Her husband is a guest writer and they do a wonderful job sharing our agricultural story.  Lisa Perrin from Mid Atlantic Dairy Association did a great job as the panel facilitator.

I got to enjoy the rest of the day mingling, eating good food, and taking in the other breakout sessions. I met too many wonderful people to name individually. I  hope they know how much I appreciated my time with all of them.

During the day I had the opportunity to meet Jessica Armacost. She is the director of the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess Program and Promotion Service . They have a very impressive program. The girls are very active in promoting dairy in their state. She had with her two of her princesses, Callie and Heather. These two lovely princesses gave a beautiful “milk toast” at lunch. They attended the whole conference and were staying on for other appearances.  They were staying the night and asked if I would like to join them for dinner.

What a great evening. She drove us into the town of Harrisburg and indulged me in some picture-taking of this beautiful town. We ate at a local restaurant Appalachian Brewing Company. It was an evening of good food and good company.  I so appreciate their invitation. This was a perfect ending to a wonderful experience.

I want to thank Dr. Lisa Holden, associate professor, Penn State Dairy and Animal Science and Laurie Porter for their efforts in arranging this conference. They make it seem easy. Congratulations to you both and everyone who made this day the success that is was.

I made it back home without delay. I was comforted to know that my cheese/milk and dairy business ran just fine without me. Tara and Tony do a great job and did it all themselves without complaint. It is I, that do not know what I would do without them. Thank you both for “holding down the fort”. I love you both.

Again, Pennsylvania Women in Dairy and Penn State Extension, my deepest gratitude for this opportunity. Until we meet again….

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Standing Up For Dairy Farmers!

Hundreds of California Dairy farmers united yesterday 9/13/12 and headed to the state capitol in Sacramento to be heard. Some took buses, others carpooled and even more made the trek alone.  Click here for the video of the speakers from yesterdays rally.

September 4th a lawsuit was filed against the CDFA . We dairy farmers have asked three times for a fair price for our milk. Three times we have been denied. Secretary Ross is not following  the law. The law is very clear, “the price announced by CDFA must be in reasonable alignment with prices paid for comparable milk produced and sold around the country”. This law has not been followed. California dairy farmers have continued to be paid $2.00 per hundred weight less for our milk than our neighboring states. That is 20 million dollars we have been robbed.

We are not asking for a bail out. We are not asking that this be paid by the tax payers. We do not want the price of dairy products to go up in the stores. We ONLY want our fair share.

What is fair and balanced about the processors making record profits and dairy farmers losing thousands upon thousands of dollars every month.

Three hundred dairy families are already gone. Another 100 dairy families are to exit. This is a crisis! In any other industry it would have been deemed so.

I wanted to be part of this historic moment. It started by two dairy farmers, Jim Wilson and Gary Van Ryn having dinner with their families and feeling frustrated and tired they decided that they needed to do something about it. They contacted Kevin Kruse from Western Milling and together they got the ball rolling. I immediately jumped on board for this effort. We have laid down too long.  I mean, If I am going out I am going standing tall with my boots on. I, like the rest of us there have had enough.

I have been disgusted with our leadership that is suppose to be representing us and have failed. I mean they throw out words say they are doing their best. They plan informational meetings to see what will be the best course of action. They remind us at every meeting that things are bound to get better…. Blah Blah Blah

Western United Dairymen, our largest dairy organization that exists because of the dues that dairy farmers pay was not there yesterday. Our co-ops like California Dairy Inc, Land O’Lakes, Hilmar Cheese, and DFA were not there. Why you ask??? I will tell you why. They are worried about “upsetting” Secretary Ross. They do not want to ruin their “great” relationship. They don’t want to lose the “great” communication that they have with the Secretary and CDFA. Really?? We have been nothing but denied any request that we have made. This is politics. This is our business and lives that they are dealing with. This isn’t about a popularity contest. It’s not about who she “likes” the most. She is a public servant. It is her job not to make decisions based on who she likes the most. This isn’t personal. This isn’t about giving the teacher an apple for a better grade. It is about the law and our rights. It is about what is fair!

What was confirmed to me yesterday was who it was truly looking out for the dairy farmers and that, was in majority, US! The dairy farmers standing together united! We did have political support with David Valadao and a few more public officers. We did have Milk Producers Council there and we had California Dairy Campaign too. This showed me finally what I have felt for a very long time that Western “United” Dairymen is not very united. Their directors should have been formally informed by their CEO of this protest and they should have tried to have been there even if they did not want to make a statement. As for the co-ops they say they have to keep an even balance between the processor and farmer. Their absence shows me who they really stand for, and it wasn’t for us. Upon this paragraph I feel that this quote I found this morning is most appropriate:

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” 
― William Lloyd Garrison

We know that yesterdays rally was not going to bring immediate change.  We know that it is just the start. What I do know is that we stood together, bonded, sharing our fears for our future, and felt strength within our numbers. We stood together in pride of what we do and in our faith of God to give us continued strength.

We are meeting again next week to decide on out next step. So stay tuned…We have only just begun!

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Back in BusinessWell, it seems like when all I crave is peace and a life filled without drama I get thrown something unexpected.

Last Friday, June 29th we received a call from the CDFA regarding a “positive” on a random test done on a sample of our chocolate milk. It was due to an improper pasteurization. We are meticulous regarding our procedure we realized we had an immediate problem. We retraced our steps and due to a hose holding a bit of milk from our transfer from making regular to chocolate. This small amount did not get pasteurized upsetting the whole batch.

There is silver lining to this, first off, YOUR FOOD SAFETY. I, of course wish it wasn’t on my test :). You though, as a consumer should know that your food is tested constantly and I know I am grateful for that. Secondly, as we were only in our trial period and we were able to fix this problem before it actually hit the stores and a larger reach. Third, NO ILLNESSES occurred.

My immediate fear was for my customers. Not only for their well being, but also their trust in Dairy Goddess and our products.

I did not sleep thinking about what will happen next. What is going to happen in dealing with the state and what will my customers think. How will they react?

My sleeplessness replayed over and over again watching the demise of my business. Why is it always that it always feels worse in the middle of the night???

Monday came and our first test was good yet I knew that it was going to be made public. Announced for the nation to see, fear of the unknown. What’s going to happen next?

We work as usual. Confident that our issue was resolved. We make or cheese, our milk and our chocolate milk. On Tuesday we took our final sample in to test. Mind you, this is the day before the 4th of July holiday. My hats off to the CDFA staff and Sierra Dairy Labs for helping us to get this cleared and a verbal OK so that we can sell on Thursday as scheduled with out missing a beat.

The news hit! Friends rallied around. I received words of encouragement. People said “hang in there”, “you’ll be OK”. My favorite, “you’ve got lemons make lemonade”. On Facebook were posts like “we can’t wait to get more of that chocolate milk”.

I was OK…

On the 4th of July my phone rings. A major distributor is interested in my products.  They want to meet. (I did disclose that I just had got off recall the day before. He chuckled and said that “it happens, good to work out the quirks”).

What a difference a day makes! I prayed a word of thanks to God. (See the Hanford Sentinel’s story)

It hits me, I am still in business. I need more space to grow. I need refrigeration at my plant.  I need a refrigeration van to transport. Business is good but it is capital that I need. I know that it nearly impossible as the dairy industry is still struggling to get back on track.

I got an idea…a fundraiser, HELP DAIRY GODDESS SOAR Crazy I know, but there is so much I need. I need milk crates. I need more bottles, labels, supplies, space etc, etc, etc.

So I put myself out there…reaching out. I have already received such generous response. I am a blessed women. If you would like to help check out my “GoFundMe” button. I know these times are difficult for so many people. The main thing I ask is for your prayers. God hears our prayers.

“Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer” – Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. These are the words that comfort me. I hope they comfort you too!

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I came across this video this morning and I say AMEN! Finally…it’s said! A voice for us.

I am continually saddened by people who disparage or dismiss the importance of Agriculture. I am saddened by those who are so easily swayed by radical agenda. What saddens me most is that because there are so many removed from Agriculture they just believe the misinformation they are throwing out there.  Earlier this year, an article featured on Yahoo! Education listed three agriculture-degrees in a list naming the top five worthless degrees. Just imagine where we would be without these degrees. These students make it pretty clear!

Farmers Fight is a student-led initiative to reconnect American society to the world of agriculture. Beginning with university students, Farmers Fight encourages consumers to ask where their food comes from, and give students, faculty, public officials, and farmers and ranchers an opportunity to become “agvocates” for the agriculture community. This is a must see!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yFoGib8AfZo

Let’s make this viral….Let’s Stand Up and Fight

Thank you for making this video! Thank you!

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I received this comment on my blog. I was so moved.

I, too feel that there is no one to help, there is nobody in our court. Our industry is ran like the rest of the country. Big money, and personal interest. Each man for themselves. We try to have voices, but those are only heard when you have lots money and you are able to make yourself heard. I know what it is  to feel like no one is listening. My blog is my little tiny voice. It is all I got!

I appreciate that she shared this story with me. I wanted to share it with you.

Hi dairygoddess…I have a question. The dairies in our area are closing. Our friends are generational dairymen, they have lost their home and had a 3k head of cow dairy, now down to 80 cows. They have 34 people who are invested and stand to lose everything. the feed company has raised feed so high they cannot keep up. NOw they are in negotiations and the feed company are holding them over a barrel. Can nothing be done, are there no gov. bale out of a dairy? they sell their milk to Alta Dena who has been supportive but cannot feed the cows. What can we do, to get oats in those cows to produce? Help if you can. (I kept her name private)

This is sadly a story that is told by many dairy farms. We are too, struggling. These next 90 days are reported to be another terrible period for dairy farms. Not only dairies suffer but the companies that service them. There is NO bail out for us, none at all. We dairy men are controlled by people looking out for themselves.
Processors LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cheap milk. They pit dairy farmer against each other so that we can not create tools to help ourselves. They just know that at some point we will end up making too much milk again and drown ourselves and our industry.

California alone is at a terrible injustice. We receive less than anyone else in the nation. Why? I have asked myself this so many times. We ask for hearings through the California Department of Agriculture, yet they are denied. Don’t they see our dairy farms struggling? Yet the processors complain that they will lose. Processors have a make allowance, an allowance that we pay to help them make a profit.

What about us? We just want to receive enough to just feed our cows. Is that asking too much? Do we not deserve enough to make a profit too? We work and have the risk. We do not have any control of the price we are going to receive. We watch our milk get hauled off (we, the dairy farmer pays for that too). Imagine, we pay for the haul to the processor while they have all of the power to raise/lower prices. Yet, we do not see huge drops in the store for dairy products…hmmm interesting isn’t? The minute the milk price goes up for us you see that in the store real quick.

We do not even know how much we are going to get for that milk that we worked so hard to make until a month later.

They have the power to NOT process if they have too much. Of course they have contracts to take all of our milk. Look, though what happens when there is too much…price drops and we are in the RED yet again. We can not just close our doors when we are not making enough money. We have an obligation to our animals. They must be cared for and fed. They must be milked.

We all must work together. Contact you local officials. Scream and shout and start asking the questions.
Get involved in the co-op and industry groups. WE and us alone have to start speaking for ourselves and working for ourselves and NOT let those with their own interests at heart win.

You asked about bail outs…I don’t think any of us want anything for free. I know, I just want a level playing field. Sadly if we do not get this help the American people can rely on non-local and imported milk because of possible milk shortages if too many dairies can not survive. At best the low prices consumers pay for dairy products will be gone for ever. For many our LUCK would have given out.

Praying for us all. The pressure is enormous. We can go without, sacrifice, but our cows MUST be fed and taken care of. When we lose that availability it is heartbreaking.

God help us all!

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