Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year End Review: Farm

After I highlighted my efforts in agvocacy in 2014 I thought it would be fun to take a look at what happened on our farm this year!
The biggest change for 2014 was the number of cows in our herd. For the second time ever and in the last two years we opened our closed herd to bring in animals from two Oregon herds that were selling their Guernseys. We used to say the future was near that we might be the only large number Guernsey herd in Oregon, sadly that day arrived. So with mixed emotions we welcomed 16 head from the Bosch family, Kilchona Farm in Tillamook, at the beginning of April. We have never brought that many animals into the herd at once, but the transition went smoothly and the timing could not have been better being out on pasture. Then in November the opportunity to bring 8 cows from the Wil-Rene herd, of the Jansen family from Forest Grove, presented itself. The timing was opposite, but we couldn't say no to these great genetics and again the transition went smoothly. 
Bette & Baja two days after their arrived!
 This brings our milking cows number to consistently over 90 cows and at max for our facility. We wouldn't push our facility if we weren't already planning an expansion into a new robotic facility by 2016, with 120 milking cows. 2015 is going to bring a lot of change, crazy busyness and challenge, but we are so excited to meet this new venture and build the future of our farm!

So let's look at what these lovely Ladies achieved in 2014.
We shipped 1,402,447lbs of milk. That is 163,076 gallons!! 
Received a quality award from our coop for producing milk above the standard requirements for the 2013/2014 fiscal year. 
 We welcomed 80 new calves! 41 Bulls and 39 Heifers. And had a record breaking 5 sets of twins, two sets being born on the same day, which has never happened here before! One set of twin heifers, one set of twin bulls and three sets of heifer and bull.
Welcome to: Jazzelle, Jellato, Regina, Rowdy, RockyRoad, Jentle, Sprout, Babs & Bobbie, Raindrop, Diana, Super, Louisa, Blackcap, Chanelle, Blueheat, Bungalow, Jesstine, Brenna, Fancie, Jorja, Venita, Rainy, Snowdust, Moodini, Minuette, Bessy, Jessandra, Jazarah, Jacket, Spaz, Milan, Jellica, Roana and 5 more newborns awaiting names!
Twin heifers for Babette. Bobbi & Babs
Captured this sweet moment of Velma and her 12th calf!
 A few personal cow achievements. Kicked off the year with one of our favorite young cows Abiqua Acres Martini Jen classifying EX-90. We celebrated Abiqua Acres Goliath Velma's sweet 16th birthday. We also had a successful show season, taking strings to the Oregon State Fair and Northwest National Guernsey Show. We took grand champion with Abiqua Acres Challenge Spirit at Oregon and placed in the top half of all our classes at the Northwest.  Bittersweet this Fall as we lost our favorite show cow Abiqua Acres Aaron Meara, she has been greatly missed!
Grand Champion Challenge Spirit
It's been a good year for the dairy industry. Milk prices were at record highs and feed prices stayed reasonable, meaning we saw a tiny profit this year, which will hopefully hold us through the rough outlook for the year ahead. Just like always most days saw us with ups and downs on the dairy farm. This is the life we love and we wouldn't have it any other way than spending it with the lovely brown and white Ladies we love! So Thank You 2014 and bring it on 2015! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year End Review: Agvocacy

Wow! 2014 flew by faster than the speed of light for me! I feel like it's still December 29th, 2013 and I was looking at my second child's due date! Literally, where did the year go?!? I guess you throw two young boys into the daily grind of farm life and time is going to speed right by!
Here on the blog things were a little slow, I just didn't have time with my keyboard; only publishing 26 new posts!  But it was hard to compete when I ended 2013 on a huge  note when my post "Today I Cried Over a Cow" went viral and pulled in over 23,000 views to my blog in December. I was in no way expecting to maintain those numbers, and I thoroughly enjoyed my social media interaction in 2014.

After the birth of my second son I kicked my agvocating skills up a notch by attending the regional AgChat convention held in Portland. It was a great experience and my favorite part was meeting many of the faces behind some of my favorite blogs I follow. It really fueled my passion to hit this year hard. 

Last years end numbers completely blew my mind, to have my writing circulating to that many people was out of anything I ever expected to happen. So while 2014's numbers look slight in comparison, it still makes me proud to know that many people took the time to stop by my little space on the internet. And I fully feel I lived up to new year's resolution and my goal.
My top three posts written for 2014: 
And #3 was tied with
My personal favorite blog post this year was a project I worked on in coordination with Oregon Dairy Farmer's Association helping to promote the Northwest Farmer's Fighting Hunger campaign. With their increased efforts to promote the campaign they were able to double the donations from 2013. It was so fun to be involved in this project and I look forward to helping make a difference in continuing to promote it! 
While I didn't log much time on this space here, due in large part to horribly slow internet connections. I was able to mobilely update our farm Facebook page Abiqua Acres more regularly. Sharing pictures and posting on a more regular basis saw the audience there double without much effort on my part. I think I am most excited about these interactions because I am literally reaching thousands of people every week! I think most people are already on Facebook, so creating and sharing information there is a great way to reach an audience that might not otherwise take the time to visit the blog here.
With the positive interactions occurring on Facebook I decided to launch my new name there first, I briefly mentioned it here, and am looking forward to finally transitioning my blog to that in the new year. Guernsey Dairy Mama has taken off and flourished on Facebook without my pushing it at all. Launched the beginning of September and I already have 549 followers, my goal was to end the year at 500! Now granted those might seem like tiny numbers, but any number that I can agvocate to makes me happy! 
I am also super excited about the other projects that my social media interactions included. Most notably joining the team of Ask the Farmers. I am so excited to see this group reach a large crowd and the positive direction and conversations that are already happening in this 6,000 strong following

While I saw the most reward for my effort on Facebook I also enjoyed branching out to instagram this year. I transitioned my account there to Guernsey Dairy Mama and have really enjoyed sharing pictures I snap while working with my ipod touch. Mobile, easy and a picture is worth a thousand words; it is a quick and easy platform to be involved with. Not to mention their editing tools are a lot of fun to play with on pictures!I've been enjoying sharing a picture of all our newborn calves.  
Here's my favorite from this year on my instagram account:

It really has been an outstanding year for me and my agvocating efforts. I love interacting through my writing and social media and sharing my dairy life. I haven't set an goals for 2015 yet, but I am already looking forward to all the new year may hold! 
Guernsey Dairy Mama 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas in the Country

Sent off a special package to someone! Looking forward to linking up for this fun event! How is your holiday season shaping up? Someone I've found myself really behind this season, I'll be playing catch up this weekend! Tonight I am off to enjoy a performance of the Nutcracker!! 
I hope you are finding some of the magic in this season!!! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

First Birthday Pirate Party

My second baby is fast approaching his first birthday, and with the holidays in between (I started this post before Thanksgiving!) I figured I had better get with it on getting some planning done! While I got started on that I realized I never did share all the details on my oldest boys first birthday. So without any more ado, I give you Mason's first birthday bash!

In another life I would love to be an event planner, so much fun! I enjoy getting to be crafty and am all about the details and with a first birthday I knew I could get away with it. We chose the pirate theme because ARRGH was the first thing we could get our grumpy and opinionated baby to say that he actually enjoyed. I thought it would be fun theme that reflected him for who he was! He looked great in red, so I knew the typical pirate colors, red, black, brown would work well. I there in aqua as an extra fun pop of color.

First up were the invitations. I had happened to find Gwen Marie Designs on Etsy for Mason's birth announcement. I loved how easy she was to work with and created exactly what I wanted, so I was excited to work with her again, and have since used her several more time. I had a design in mind that matched our colors and theme and she created exactly what I was wanting.

After scouring pinterest for some fun ideas I complied my own touches to make it truly reflect us and the little boy we were celebrating!

A Pirtae flag greets guests!

 I made triangle fabric banners in five different prints that fit the color scheme. For an added touch I strung them on baling twine, know there is plenty of that around here! Made enough to hand in several locations for fun pops of color. Also one of my favorite accessories I picked up from the dollar store was the nets. I used them to hang with tiny clothes pins favorite pictures of Mason's first year. It worked out really well as an easy way to fill space on the walls in several spots with photos!

No pirate party is complete without a parrot aboard your ship!


 Using "pirate language" I worded his birthday banner I be 1. Also added fun textures and dimensions with the scrapbook paper. My favorite part was the shell string I added and pops of color with aqua ribbon.

And the masterpiece, or honestly biggest pain of the party, pirate ship cake! I was honestly impressed with my freelance design and how it all came together, I definitely had my doubts on this one. I mushed it together with cuttings from two separate sheet cakes. I actually ended up having to use a third cause one fell apart on me, that was about the moment I was seriously disagreeing with my attempt to pull this off. But I'm glad I stuck it out,  not bad for somebody who is not an unusual cake maker! It looks like a ship, right? Finished off with blue ocean cupcakes, can't have a ship without the ocean!

Final decoration touches included pirate tattoos for fun and a treasure chest full of yummy and wearable booty! Our pirate party was all ready for the birthday boy who had a custom shirt waiting for him. Party Time!

Unfortunately our little guy woke up with a horrid fever the morning of the party. But he was a true pirate and pulled through to celebrate in style. We enjoyed an amazingly warm day in April and ended up moving our bbq outside! I had so much fun putting together all the details of his party, first birthdays truly are special!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Transformation Tuesday

Remember two years ago I shared a sweet story about a very special new baby calf? Well Marna is in with the cows and expecting her first calf at the end of month and my Little Farmer is very excited! I just love watching these girls grow up and develop, they are the future of our herd, the future of the Guernsey breed. Did you know that a dairy farmer waits two years before seeing any return on each cow? That's a long "crop rotation"!  Just like all mammals a cow must have a calf to produce milk. We breed our heifers to calve no sooner than two years of age, so before she is milking, we are raising her for our future and what she will add to our herd. It's a huge investment and a long wait, that's why their care is so important to us. We look forward to the day that each joins our herd and well some just hold a very special place in our hearts!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Something has to Give

Another month and no posts. Fairly certain many of you have given up on my writing, don't blame you! I seriously have had zero time with my keyboard and it breaks my heart! With a work force of four on our farm, my main job is caring for my family and Ladies. It is what is most important, and sometimes that means that something has to give, unfortunately lately that has been my writing!

There are a few changes happening here on our farm and I can't wait to share the details with you after we get some fine print ironed out. For now I am focusing on the every day with my family and herd! Although I am absent in my posts here please find and follow me on Facebook and Instagram: Guernsey Dairy Mama. I at least have time to share pictures and short updates there!
I am still here, and love sharing my story with you all.  I can't wait to get writing back into my schedule, but until then connect with me!

If you are looking for some great reading this month, many of my agvocate friends have taken up a 30 day writing challenge for the month of November. Check it out and follow along! I know I will be!

Until my keyboard and I meet again; take care!

Happy Halloween 2014! Spending time with my farm boys is most important!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Through the Daily Grind: The Passage of Time

I have a theme.

Where did the time go. How is it June, July, August, September already.

Each day clouded by an immeasurable number of diaper changes and tasks for every living being in my vicinity except for myself, I am always amazed as the hours seem to slowly creep by in the day. And yet, the Months, Seasons, Years so quickly pass by! How is it possible to be battling both aspects of the passing of time?

And how did I arrive here? 27 years have immeasurably slipped through my fingers and I look at myself in the mirror as an adult. When did that happen? A mother of two, a wife, a business and home owner, when did that happen? When did my babies sweet chubby cheeks and fat baby toes, lengthen and lean? From days that would never end, to wondering where the days, months, years have gone.

Time, it's hard not to feel it looming in the background. The daily hum to which our feet must dance. Always there in our minds, all we have in this life. It's immeasurable in ways we can't see, and yet always ticking away. On our computer screens, phones, walls, always there reminding us as the numbers cycle by. How many times have you watched it, hoping, wishing, waiting, wanting?

It's hard not to get caught up in the passage of time, as it leads such a role in our daily life. Yet it's not the time I wish to catch, to hold on to. I know my time here can only be enjoyed as a present, in the present. It's the moments.  The life in our years!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Changes Coming Soon......

In the middle of our busiest time of year; show season, harvest, the biggest calving month we've had in years, I got a crazy idea to reexamine my blog and the direction I want it to take. I love this space, it feels like home, but I am ready to take it to the next level. So hopefully in the next couple of months, you'll see a new name and new site. I've felt that I am lost among all the other Farmer's Daughters out there and am in search of my own unique name I can really own.
I so appreciate all of you who've been with me on this ride so far! And I hope you'll follow me as I take it to the next level! I'll be sure to try to keep you all in loop as things progress.

All the Best,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Capturing our Family in Photos

We just finished another amazing shoot tonight with the talented Heidi Helser Photograghy. I am so happy and excited to have found her and to have her capturing our family. When our first little farmer was born we captured pictures of him every 3 months. I loved having those pictures and seeing the changes as the first year goes by SO quickly. So I was determined to make that happen for our second little farmer. So after maternity, newborn, 3 months and now 6 months, I am so thrilled to continue to work with Heidi. If your in the Northwest and looking for a good photographer, I can' recommend her enough!!

I really love spending time with a photographer and the images they can capture. Those moments, those smiles are so precious! Usually being behind the lens, it's nice to enjoy someone with a professional eye. I encourage you all to find someone to work with. I promise you won't regret capturing your family in photos! Now to get some of these printed and on our walls! So sharing our pictures from this Spring with you all in anticipation of the shots we got tonight!

 This was such a special shoot full of so much celebration. Mason turning 3, Nolan 3 months, Ben and I being together for 10 years as well as our birthdays. April is just a big celebration and I am loving looking back at this special session tonight! Thanks again Heidi!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Northwest Farmer's Fighting Hunger Results

The beginning of June Dairy Month I brought to your attention the Northwest's Farmer's Fighting Hunger campaign. Well the results are back and I am so happy to have been involved in such a successful year:
So THANK YOU to everyone who participated and helped #fightsummerhunger!

Very proud that Oregon won this little Challenge, of course everyone was a winner in this situation. Hey The Farmer's Wifee, better have Washington step up their game next year! ;-) Extra thanks to her for helping spread the word! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#WhattheMuck: A Lesson in Social Media Importance

Glad the boots on the hard working feet of our family have always been Lacrosse or Bogs. I don't have to feel remorse for supporting a company that in turn supports organizations that are trying to end our lifestyle.
New Bogs- Sept 2012, still going strong today!
That might sound a little rash, and potentially this entire situation has been blown out if proportion, that's my guess at least, but I can guarantee that The Original Muck Boots company is reevaluating the importance of their social media posts. 

In two posts they managed to create a total uproar and turn away hundreds of customers by "accidentally fundraising" for the HSUS. 
Despite your views of the HSUS, (if you do support them and fall victim to their sad puppy and kitten commercials you should probably read up on their recent status and donor advisory from Charity Navigator. In fact Humane Society shelters see virtually none of that money that is raised. Want to help your local shelters, donate directly to them!) this is a total reminder to all companies to be aware of who is behind your social media and have an action plan in place to quickly resolve issues should they arise. 
The first posts (which have since been removed, another no no in the virtual world) were posted on Friday. The company did not make a response to the negative posts flowing in until Tuesday. 4 days is an eternity in virtual time. You have to be ready to respond in an instant or things can get out of hand. 
People were honestly burning their boots in response!

And they certainly did. The response has been huge from their main community of supporters: farmers, hunters, outdoorsmen and agriculturists. Hundreds of posts across all social media sites, even to the extreme of burning their boots. Finally an official response was made Tuesday afternoon 8/5/2014:
Screen shot from The Original Much Boot Company Facebook Page 8/6/2014
Now we all hate auto correct, and tagging can sometimes jump, but for it to be guilty if changing The Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island  to HSUS and tagging it is unlikely. To further complicate the situation, RI stated on it's Facebook page that is has no knowledge of the donation. If this is true, Muck has just completely committed company suicide, you certainly can't lie about an already bad situation!! 

Horrible situation for a tiny donation that was meant to memorialize a coworker. Muck will be regretting these two tiny posts for years. 

So to ALL the companies out there; if your going to utilize social media: 
*Be aware of who is posting and decide what is appropriate. 
*Always be on top of any situation. Time is important in the virtual world. 
*Using social media is an awesome way to reach customers, one of best of our time. Be aware that ONE post can make or break you!! 

I have a feeling every company in the country is currently double checking their social media procedures!! 

Happy posting!

Update: 8/6/2014 Just a few minutes before I was ready to post the above (cranky baby did not want to nap today!) my friend The Farmer's Wifee received this on her story asking for the truth from Muck:

"Krista. I read your post and I wanted to respond to you directly hoping to clear up a lot of confusion. To be clear: The Original Muck Boot Company did not make a corporate donation to HSUS. Yesterday was not a good day for our brand, and especially not for our social media team who made an honest mistake by ‘tagging’ the wrong organization in a few posts last week. We are very sorry that a this mistake has caused some of our loyal customers to be so upset.

Corporate statements aside, here’s what happened…we suffered the loss of a colleague from cancer a few months ago. As you can surely understand, that’s never easy. In lieu of flowers, his family requested donations be made to a local animal shelter in his honor. Our colleague loved cats, so we know that’s what he would have wanted. The local shelter that was identified, the Humane Association of Northwestern Rhode Island is close to the Muck Boot offices whose primary mission is to help stray cats. To make the confusion even greater, when our Facebook statement was issued yesterday, the employee contributions were still being collected internally and not yet distributed to HANRI, the local shelter. We have since been in contact with HANRI and cleared up the confusion. They are thrilled to be receiving over $2100 this week in contributions collected by and donated by the employees – not from The Original Muck Boot Company.

We’re sickened by the fact that our customers feel as is we’ve let them down. It was never our intention.
— Sean O’Brien, Director of Footwear, Muck Boots."

I have not seen an official confirmation of the personal donation from the Rhode Island shelter yet, but their post saying they had not received a donation has been removed. 

Take note companies: social media matters! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dairy Farmer Roadtrip "Vacation"

Dairy Farmers are a wonderful breed of people. Each caring for and producing the best quality product they possibly can. I am reminded of this time and time again as I forge more friendships throughout the dairy world.

This latest expansion of my "dairy family" took me to eastern Washington state near the town of Spokane. We sold one of our Ladies, to Spokane Family Farm. They run a herd of Holsteins and Jerseys and process their own milk. We were interested in seeing their processing facility, so made the drive up to deliver them their "prize" Guernsey.

The Hutchins are a great dairy family. That is clearly reflected in their pride and care for their herd and their products. I am so excited and inspired by their success in the short amount of time they have been running Spokane Family Farm. I can't wait to see where their venture takes them. Obviously great places with some Guernsey milk in the tank now! ;-)

Since we were "in the neighborhood", we drove a little further north to visit with the Stauffer's. I had "met" Krista online as she started her agvocacy with her blog The Farmer's Wifee. If you aren't following her there, you should check out her facebook page as well. Being a fellow Darigold producer and Northwesterner we had followed each other for a while. We got to meet up at the Agchat Conference in January and it was great to meet her in person.

Even better to get to visit her at her farm. They run a mixed herd of Jerseys, Holsteins and crosses. Beautiful farm, nestled in the foothills with obviously happy and well cared for cows. It was great to get an inside look at their operation and catch up with each other.

I have to laugh, because it seems to be true for every dairy farmer, if you are going on "vacation" or a trip somewhere, you always look for farms you can stop at along the way. Dairy farmers are always learning and looking for ways to improve our own operations. Seeing other farms and talking with other farmers is a amazing way to not only build friendships, but share and grow knowledge.

Time and time again as I walk away from new farms I am always impressed with the common cause of healthy and happy animals. Dairy farmers truly do love their cows and this lifestyle. Your milk production is in good hand folks!

So who will we visit next!