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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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Hello everyone! I thought that I would post a Myth vs Fact about milk and dairy farms. Primarily myths regarding Progressive dairy farms (aka Conventional)

Especially as there is a shortage of “Organic” milk availability.  I have stated before and will again that I support my fellow organic dairy farmers. They do a terrific job with the method of farming that they chose. I just want it to be understood among all of the media mumbo jumbo regarding progressive farming.

As a progressive farmer I choose this method of farming primarily because as an organic dairy I am unable to use antibiotics to treat my seriously ill animals. These antibiotics are the same medicines that I took when I had a breast infection while I was best feeding. Or the same medicine I gave my children when they had infections that became serious. Morally, I have an issue with not being able to treat my cows as I would myself or my children and risk the loss of an animal when there are methods in which to save them.

“MILK IS MILK”

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.

  • 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.

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.

Myth: Modern dairy farmers don’t practice sustainable agriculture.

Fact: Dairy farmers depend on land, air and water as part of their livelihood.

  • Dairy farms must meet standards for manure storage, handling and recycling per guidelines from state and federal agencies. Once dried, manure is reused as comfortable animal bedding, composted for local garden centers and nurseries, or spread on fields to grow healthy crops, thereby reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.
  • Dairy farms must follow strict state and local water quality regulations. Dairy farmers use water responsibly in their milking parlors, in water storage and in recycling.
  • Constant innovation on dairy farms has led to widespread adoption of best management practices, and U.S. dairy farms are more efficient today than ever before. According to Cornell University, the dairy industry has reduced the carbon footprint of its products by 63 percent over the past 60 years, thanks to improvements in animal genetics, feeding rations, animal health programs, cow comfort and overall farm management practices. In fact, more milk is produced today with only 9 million cows than with 26 million cows in 1944.
  • Dairy is one of the most regulated and inspected industries in agriculture. Dairy farms must abide by federal, state and local clean water laws that regulate manure application on cropland, and government agencies regularly inspect the water on dairy farms. Further, state agencies have rigorous processes for granting permits to new and expanding dairy farms.
  • Dairy farmers live and work on their farms, so they understand the importance of protecting our natural resources, so that it will be there for future generations.
Please visit http://www.dairyfarmingtoday.org/Learn-More/MythsvsFacts/Pages/MythvsFact.aspx for even more in depth fact sheets

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Love my boots!

Well here we are well into January 2012. I have pretty much chronicled my tough end of 2011 and my 2012 started

off tough as well. My ill Grandmother, Julia Mussachia, passed away at 92 years of age. Also my beloved dog, my pug

Luci-Lu, of 12 years passed away too. They are both at peace and suffering no longer. Oh, but how missed they are.

I hope not to report anymore bad stuff for the rest of 2012!

 

I did get a nice treat though the first part of December. I received an email from Country Outfitter.com complimenting

my blog and asked if I would like a free pair of boots for a review. Well, imagine that!   To be honest I didn’t think

it would happen…but I went along with it.

To my great surprise it was the real deal. So here is the disclosure:

A retailer of cowboy boots. Country Outfitter sent me Black Ariat Legend boots to review.

Well….I LOVE THEM! I do! I can wear them all day and have! They fit like a glove and they are so beautiful.

Cowboy boots make me feel like a strong, independent women. They make me feel pretty and tough all at the same time.

I would NEVER say something that was not true. Free boots or not! I write my blog to share my life and put a face on farming.

I do have to admit I was flattered to get this perk. I am human after all 🙂 !

 

Cowboy Boots! Every women should own a pair or two… YEE HAW!

 

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Happy New Year Everyone!

I have not been as attentive as I would like to my blog but with the holidays and travelling work and cheese there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Also with the loss of my Granny (age 92) On January 4 th, it just has been so hectic.

It seems as I have been posting so much doom and gloom…that is not my style. Life though, gives you “stuff”.

I am grateful for my faith that gets me though the “stuff”! As for my Granny, she is finally at peace…we have some wonderful

memories. She was quite a lady and to sum her up it would be this. If she was in her prime. She would be a successful

Reality TV Show…she was born before her time.

My Aunt and family ask for me to do the Eulogy for Granny so I had been deep in thought about my past, my youth.

I had been asked (what seems like a long time ago) to speak at the California Women for Agriculture

Convention in Visalia on January 7 2012 . I was asked to talk about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur. I was told I had about 30 minutes. WOW, that’s a long time to talk about yourself.

I knew I couldn’t just “wing” it. So I wrote, rewrote and wrote again. I am so happy to have had that opportunity. How often do we chronicle a journey? For me a bit of blogging and that, but to start from a life change to where you are at the moment doesn’t usually happen. So THANKS to Raquel Avila Leal for having the faith in me to give me 30 minutes of time to share my story.

I decided to share it with you! (Please excuse typos/errors) I wanted to share it how I wrote it and what I read to these wonderful women. (It is a bit long…)

 

Hello it is a great pleasure to be here this morning and I am honored that I have been invited to speak to you, the California Women of Agriculture.

We, here have a common gift. We love and respect Agriculture and realize, first hand it’s importance to our state, our nation, our world.

Many of us here are in different aspects of agriculture. No matter from food to fiber we know the power and wealth it brings to our country.

We realize what the loss there would all be with out it.

We deal with the regulations. We deal with the misconceptions.

We are often called polluters.

Many people and the media, say we don’t care about the water, the land or the air.

They call us factory farmers.

No matter what comes out of our fields we have heard the anti-agriculture comments. We know we have the safest food in the world. We know how much we care for our land.

It is the same land that many of us were raised on and the land we have raised our own children on.

We, the California Women of Agriculture, Know the fight we are in to protect our farms, protect OUR rights, protect our legacies.

I am honored to be put in the time slot for you to hear about entrepreneurs. I have lately been called this but still don’t feel that that title really belongs to me.

To me I am first and foremost a mother, a wife, a farmer.

I have to admit that I can not wait to add GRANDMA to that list…but it does not seem to be in the immediate future. So I will relish in the joy of entrepreneur for now.

Please note…professional speaker is NOT one of my titles. I hope to not disappoint you during this time that I have been allotted.

I am a third generation dairy farmer married to my high school sweetheart, also third generation dairy farmer. We have been married for 29 years. We have two children. Tara age 25 a graduate of psychology from Fresno State. My son Anthony Joseph Martin the III also know as A.J. age 24, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Animal Science.

We have our dairy in Lemoore. We moved here from Chino in 2006. We had bought an existing dairy in which we reconstructed the barn. We came with the same amount of cows as we had in Chino and milk nearly 900 head.

In Chino it was a whole different way of dairy farming. We did not grow any of our cows feed. We bought it all off site. We were in a partnership with my husbands parents and brother.

In deciding to move, we were excited at the prospect of this being OUR dairy. Tony and I, in a and complete full partnership. In every way, from the day to day operation as well as the business of it.

Also the thought of growing our own crops was very exciting for us.

I am grateful for the experience I had in Chino.

There was such a difference in our dairy business plan down south. The men were partners in the day to day business .Us women worked in “town” as my dad would say.

In 1981 I became a travel agent. In 1983 I began to working for my mother in law until I bought her out in 1990. I sold the agency in 1999. I stayed on with the new owners until Sep 11, 2001.

I sold in 1999 as we began discussing possible relocation of our dairy at that time. AND I just had an inkling that the internet was going to be a tough competitor for travel agents.

I then went to work for UPS in there damage recovery (not always the happiest people to deal with) I was grateful though for that experience. It really taught me how to handle people in difficult situations.

I then dabbled in title insurance and enjoyed the customer service skills I learned there.

I stayed there until I found my favorite “town” job.

I worked for the County of San Bernardino Family Court Services in which we did the mediation for custody and visitation for families going through divorce.

Working for The County / State as it was in transition at that time was clearly the most eye opening job I have ever had.

I was good at it. I liked helping people.

I appreciated being appreciated by my judges and supervisors.

Being raised on a farm gives you a work ethic that we as farmers don’t even realize that we have..

I also saw and worked with those that did not have the gift of “work ethic”

If I had stayed only with Agriculture…I would not have seen it this.

All of these experiences taught me so much. Dealing with people. Speaking with people. Most of all listening to people.

When my co-workers asked me “how can you live on a farm”? “How can you eat your own animals”. “How do you stand the smell”.

When questioned…I didn’t feel upset…God love em…they REALLY did not know. They were so removed from the farm and where there food comes from.

I always liked explaining my life. I knew and appreciated how different and blessed I was.

I felt sorry for those that did not know what I knew or what I experienced every day. They didn’t know how good fresh milk tasted. They have never smelt fresh cut alfalfa. They have never seen a calf be born…

how blessed so many of us our to have these experiences.

I also realized that when they got to know me and when they heard MY side of the agriculture story they “got it”. . . also HOW I told my story was important. In words people can comprehend.

I had a co-worker ask if we use chains to get calves out of there mothers. I explained that some cows as well as humans need help with birthing. Humans have tools to assist and we have them for cows too.

In 2006 we had so many emotions. Moving from all of your friends and our church. Moving out of our comfort zone.

I was sad that in September both kids were going away to school. I thought how were we going to meet people? Kids and there schools and activities help to get you involved in your community and with your neighbors.

We didn’t know what we were going to do for a house so the 5th wheel was going to have to do.

In 2006, we moved right in time for the heat wave to kill 50 of our cows. We were up day and night trying to cool them down the best we could as not all of our shades were up and our fans were not yet working. Those were the most difficult of days.

We had our first price drop in milk that year and our reconstruction costs had doubled due to Hurricane Katrina and the availability of supplies.
Now that I was completely hands on with our business and with the volatility of the dairy industry I felt that I wanted to do more and fix the ill ways of our industry and quite frankly the greed, corruption, and manipulations that we dairy farmers have to deal with.

I became involved the Western United Dairymen where I was elected delegate and also California Milk Advisory Board in which I was elected a director for our district. I also was very active in my co-op, Dairy Farmers of America. There are not many women placed in these positions. I was honored to be elected by my peers, my fellow dairy farmers.

In struggling to make our dairy work I decided to bring home our calves from the custom calf ranch. I thought that this was a job that I could do well. It would eventually save our dairy money and avoid the difficulty of transition bringing the calves back to the ranch when they were older.

By 2008 I had my calves back at home and they were flourishing. It was about at that time that social media was taking off and I began to dabble.

It was a great place to share my accomplishments my disappointments, some funny pictures and stories. It was the perfect platform to continue my story…

and I didn’t have to work in “TOWN”.

As I worked everyday I watched the milk truck drive off with our milk. I thought about how great it would be to do something with it ourselves. Make something right here on the farm.

At the end of 2008, I took an Artesian Cheese making coarse at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It was love at first touch. Having my hands in the vat. The smell of cooking curds. All the stainless steel… I was hooked. I came back with huge dreams and ideas.

2009 hit our dairy industry. It was devastation for so many. Financially I didn’t know if we would make it through and I am still questioning if I will be able to get financially healthy ever again.

Seeing milk checks that come in that barely are enough to feed your cows and make payroll is a stress that I wish on no one.

I mean, it’s not like we close up shop for a few days.
We are responsible for those animals. God has entrusted them with us. All dairymen are committed to the cows health, by feeding them, milking them, TAKING care of them.

When you, as a dairy farmer fear not be able to feed your cows, you forget about yourself. If you do not have a dairy it hard to explain in words. If you have a dairy…you know exactly what I mean.

So my thought of producing something on the farm at that time seemed so very far away.

But it kept eating away at me. Something kept at me to search for ways to make cheese on our farm.

I was becoming more fueled in my plight when I saw that processors such as Kraft, Dean Foods and Leprino had made record profits in 2009 while in my area alone there were dairy farms closing left and right. We had 4 suicides from distraught dairy farmers in our area alone.
I felt so out of control. Here we make a product, milk, and we have all of this risk yet we have NO control of what price we are going to receive.

On top of that we have to pay for the delivery of our milk to our processors. Yet THEY have control of the price they receive.

It just didn’t make sense.

I am not anti co-op or processor, by any means. If any thing I have a greater appreciation for them and what it takes for them to get OUR product to market. I do think there are things in our industry that need to change. We dairy farmers need to get back some of OUR control…

that is for another time though. It is a battle that will continue.

In early 2009 I contacted my dairy products inspector whom I had met at Cal Poly during my class.

He came to my dairy. Looked around. I discussed my ideas. I shared my financial issues…

He told me that we were about the 52nd dairy he had visited in a year or so looking into building a processing plant. He had only one that had started the process officially.

As we were sitting in my husband’s office at the dairy with my husbands feet prompted up comfortably on the desk as always.

I asked my inspector “So where would the best place be for my cheese plant”…he hesitated looked around and said…”right here”…
I thought my husband was going to fall back off of his chair.

We needed much more discussion,

but I did proceed to tell my inspector that I would like to have it done within a year. He kind of chuckled and said…you first need to get your husband on board.

In the mean time I had been experimenting in my house. Everyday a different recipe of cheese or flavor. I felt like my mind was never at rest.

Along with this I started blogging. It was the scariest thing that I ever had done. Exposing myself, my family, my farm on video and in words. It was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I introduced my cow Chica who became quite the star. She was a cow I raised from day one and she was special. She was a diva. People loved her and connected.

I am a women of faith. I believe that God gives us his plan in ways that we are not always expecting. That blog. A Dairy Goddesses Blog gave me the courage to pursue my dream of cheese. It gave me confidence to continue on.

My first investment in Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese was my logo…yes a logo without a product. Having enough experience off of the farm and with social media. I knew marketing was half of the battle. “BRANDING” yourself was another part of the equation.

I felt like I always had a back up plan for my expenses and my investment in Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese.
I thought, worst case scenario…I would use it for my blog heading and it would make such a cute Avatar.

I continued, by the grace of God and things kept coming together.

I had a recipe that I loved. My family loved. My friends loved. I felt confident with it. I decided to start off with it, it is a French Style Fresh Cheese, Natural and with flavors. A Fromage Blanc. It was different than my competitors. It was a niche and it was affordable even in a specialty market. It was a perfect cheese for a “foodie on a budget”.

We did as much of the work in the reconstruction from office to cheese plant. My poor husband watched his “man-cave” / office disappear before his eyes. Never with a complaint…God love him.

I knew he wasn’t fully on board, poor thing. He was supportive and did so much of the physical labor. I promised him that whatever money I put into this I would sell enough cheese to pay that amount back. Even if I had to sell my cheese on a street corner. Even if it took me 20 years.

He plugged on.

My husband and my inspector saw it coming to life. I saw it coming to life. Working day and night. I still managed to study for my pasteurization license. I worked with the construction workers that we had to bring in for the work we could not tackle ourselves.

On August 12, 2010 I received my plant certification AND my pasteurization license. He told me that I was the 2nd plant approval he had in the two years that we had met. It was an emotional day to say the least.

Poor guy he didn’t know what to do…but was patient with posing with me for pictures for my blog.

Since I had a fresh cheese I felt that that was an advantage. It takes basically 3 days from cow to package.

I was able to sell my first batch on August 19 2010 at Hanford Farmers market. I immediately placed product in the Portuguese Bakery in Hanford.

It was at that first farmers market that my husband realized that this just might work. By my side, giving samples he relished in everyone’s delight. By seeing the sales at the end of the night, he said I really do think we have something here!

I told him that I was sure glad he thought so.

Those first months I processed about 100 gallons in a month.

By my 1st anniversary in August of 2011 I was processing over 250 gallons a week. I was in 14 farmers markets from Santa Barbara to Walnut Creek. I am in 3 specialty stores. I am in two Whole Foods Markets and in Spring 2012 will be in two more Whole Foods Markets in the bay area.

They will put me in as many stores as I can accommodate. That is now one of my obstacles…being able to accommodate the orders.

 

My daughter upon graduation from Fresno State came to work with me full time. My sister in law and Uncle help on processing days and I have 3 part time farmers markets representatives.

We now realize that we are at a cross roads. We have to make decisions of expansion OR We have to decide if we want to stay this way and keep doing what we are doing. Both decisions have their challenges.

To stay the same keeps us completely hands on and labor intensive. We are not as efficient and we could be. We can not grow very much more due to our size and storage facility.

To expand means capital. It means more risk and more work to obtain and keep markets and be even more price competitive.

It means dealing with the bigger boys. Transportation of the product would now be a bigger challenge. Dealing with distributors and store placement another challenge

I realize that I will need help and professional opinions for my next phase…whatever it is. I have out grown myself…even considering it started so small. It was built with my heart with my blood, sweat, and tears.

Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese is ME.

I have to admit…it makes me very proud.

I reached my first goal even faster than I could have imagined.

I can see and feel in my heart is that there is so much more potentional… with that in my heart it’s hard for me to sit still.

So stay tuned…not quite sure the next step for Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese but a step… or maybe even a leap, I will take.

Of course…If that is what God has in store for me.

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