Monday, June 28, 2010

Dinosaurs for Thanksgiving dinner?

I know, I know: looking at the title of this post, you already think I'm nuts. But hang with me here a moment. We give tours of our turkey barns here at OARDC to tons of school kids and others each year. One of my most memorable stops there was with a preschool class where one observant little fellow told me they looked like dinosaurs.

Hmmmm. I'd never thought about that. But ya know what? He was kind of right!

Now my good bloggy friend Katie over at On the Banks of Squaw Creek runs a weekly feature called Turkey Tuesday. She shares great turkey recipes and tells us about life on their family farm where they raise (you guessed it): turkeys! In fact, her turkeys go through the processing plant that supplies all of the turkey to Subway west of the Mississippi. She was blogging about her turkeys a few weeks ago and mentioned that June is National Turkey Lovers Month, so I knew we needed to share the spotlight with National Dairy Month and give the turkeys a little love, too. Then Katie (she's a school teacher, can you tell?) did some research and found that in fact, my little preschool visitor was right: there IS a connection between turkeys and dinosaurs. Who would have guessed?

Well apparently the folks at National Geographic guessed: you can set your DVRs for July 7 at 5 a.m. to watch their upcoming special on the relationship between the modern turkey and the ancient dinos. Be sure to check that out for more information.

Now for some cool turkey-dino facts from National Geographic:
  • Turkeys are descended from predatory dinosaurs called theropods, which gradually became smaller in size and developed bird like features before finally evolving into the first birds.
  • The T.Rex dinosaur was actually a giant turkey - a new study of ancient proteins retrieved from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil have confirmed that birds are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs.
  • The idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs was first introduced by legendary scientist Thomas Henry Huxley in the 1860s.
  • Feathers do not necessarily make a bird – dinosaur digs over the last decade in China have revealed several new dinosaur species that were covered in feathers. These were important in order to keep warm and attract mates.
  • The fearsome Velociraptor, a relative of the first ancient birds, was incorrectly represented in the 1993 movie Jurassic Park. New research at the American Museum of Natural History shows that the creature was covered in feathers.
  • The oldest known bird is the Archaeopteryx, meaning “ancient wing,” which roosted in the European islands of the Late Jurassic around 150 million years ago.
  • A recently discovered dinosaur named Microraptor has been helping scientists understand how flight evolved – tiny and bird like with fully developed and feather covered wings on both arms and legs, it glided in forests around 130 million years ago.
  • Dozens of new species of dinosaurs and dino-birds are emerging every year – hot spots for new finds are Argentina and China.
As we celebrate National Turkey Lover's Month, take the time to learn about these unique animals. The National Geographic tv special might be a good place to start. But take some time to get to know turkey producers, too. Visit blogs like Katie's where she shares how their turkeys are raised. Or visit a local fair where turkeys are part of the livestock exhibited by 4-H members. Those 4-H members will be happy to answer your questions and share their experiences with you.

Oh, and I think I can speak for Katie when I say go eat a turkey sub at Subway. Her family's hard work made it possible for that turkey to get from their farm gate to your plate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Make it 3-a-day for healthy kids!

It's oftentimes not easy to get kids to eat the things they should. But good nutrition is vital for healthy kids. As we continue our celebration of National Dairy Month, we want to share some great ideas for helping your kids get their "3-a-day" of dairy. These ideas come to us from our friends at the National Dairy Council and the NFL's Play 60 program.  For more information on the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and downloadable copies of their great educational resources, be sure to visit their website. The National Dairy Council also has tons of other great learning resources and lesson plans, so be sure to check those out if you teach at home or share them with any teachers you know, too.

Children’s bones are like bank accounts. They’re depositing calcium now for later in life. By age 20, the average young person has acquired about 98 percent of his or her skeletal mass. Getting adequate calcium and plenty of physical activity now can be the best defense against osteoporosis later in life. Among school-age children, only four out of 10 boys and three out of 10 girls get the calcium they need each day. Consuming at least three – ideally four for 9 through 18 year olds – servings of milk, cheese or yogurt, gets students on track for turning these statistics around. A nutritious diet that includes at least 3-Every-DayTM of Dairy and plenty of physical activity helps children build the strongest bones possible. Dairy foods provide calcium and eight other essential nutrients, including protein, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, and niacin to help keep bones strong and bodies fit. (From 3-Every-Day of Dairy for Stronger Bones, Grade 4 classroom activity)

1) Make your own pizza bar! There are great resources for schools online at the Fuel Up for 60 site mentioned above, but you can do this for dinner in your own home, too! Just use the extra large refrigerated biscuits and roll them out to make individual, kid-sized pizza crusts. They make a great snack, or let each person make several for a meal. Offer plenty of healthy topics for kids to pick from, including a variety of low-fat or fat-free cheeses, jalepenos, black olives, hot sauce, peppers, fresh tomoatoes, pineapple, cooked chicket, etc. You get the idea. And what kid doesn't like pizza? You can also make a pizza with low-fat or fat-free cheese for breakfast! You'll be a meal-time superstar!

2) Have a potato bar! Potatoes are always a hit with kids, so offer them along witha  variety of low-fat and fat-free cheses, broccoli, chives, nuts, low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt mixed with spices, etc. The sky (and your immagination) are the limit here! Even Martha Stewart gets in on the family potato bar action (the pic above links you back to her take on it).

3) Take it up a notch with a tasty taco bar! Offer the kids lettuce, tomato, low-fat and fat-free cheses, hot sauce, salsa, low-fat sour cream, jalepenos, etc. Again, be creative! It's gotta be a hit..even Rachel Ray recommends it! (Click the picture above to be linked back to her recipe and instructions.)

4) Yowsers! Yogurt! It doesn't get much simpler than a yogurt bar...just set out a few flavors of low-fat and fat-free yogurt with toppings like fruit, whole-grain granola, buts, raisins, etc. Or, if you're looking to cool down and beat the heat, how about making your own frozen yogurt? Those cute little mini-Danonino yogurt cups are perfect: just stick a popsicle stick through the lid and freeze...that's it! Click the picture above to link to more Danonino recipes and ideas.

There you go: four simple and easy ways to get more dairy in your kids' diets.

Be sure to check out the cool online games for kids where they can learn more about the importance of good nutrition and plenty of exercise at Fuel Up to Play 60.

Wanna learn more about modern dairy technology? Check out this piece on how robots are used on one Wayne County, Ohio dairy farm! 
Blessed with Grace Tuesday Tag-Along 

Monday, June 7, 2010

How are dairy cows really treated?

You're probably in the minority if you haven't see or at least heard of the video footage shot by Mercy for Animals of an individual beating and torturing cows right here in Ohio at Conklin Dairy Sales in Plain City. If you're unfamiliar with dairy farming or have never been to a farm, you might understandably have some questions about how dairy cows and calves are treated. Is this terrible injustice part of the standard operating procedures for dairy farms? Or is this case of extreme mistreatment that is the exception to the rule?
Since we're posting about dairy cows all month in honor of National Dairy month, I wanted to take the time to share with you agriculture's side of the story, too. That's my good buddy the Farmgirl up above, back in the days when she worked for us here at OARDC giving tours of our campus. She's the amazing blogger over at Farmgirl Follies, and she's the one who inspired our cool butter making tutorial last week. If you check out her blog (do, do!) check her post where her hubbie named his cows after ex-girlfriends. :)

So anyway, we have a dairy operation here at OARDC. Our cows are Holsteins (black and white). They are well-cared for and valued...they are a big investment to us not only as livestock but also for the research we do to improve dairy production operation and efficiency along with animal health and welfare. We even have some unusual the one shown above with the fistula or "hole" in her side. She's even more valuable to us, because she allows us to do specialized digestive research. People always ask us about the cow with the window in it's side (apparently we used to be well-known for that). But as you can see, it's not really that exciting to look at. And no, it doesn't hurt's really no different than a body piercing on a person, except that the fistula provides an invaluable research tool for our dairy scientists.

I'd like to suggest that before accepting that the video footage filmed and promoted by Mercy for Animals is standard operating procedure for dairy operations you take a moment to check out what some real-life dairy farmers and professionals have to say about how their cows are treated. I'm sure any of them would welcome questions and love to talk to you more if you have concerns.

1) Here's a link to an article by Dr. Donald Sanders, one of our own Ohio State University large animal vets who has actually made on-farm calls to the farm in question. He's been there, done that and actually knows about Conklin Diary Sales personally. The article shares his thoughts on the video and what he has seen in his real-life visits to that farm on other occassions.

2) Check out the girls over at Two Maids a Milking. These real-life, college-educated, Indiana farm girls tell it like it is when it comes to talking about life on their dairy farm. They'll tell you their cows are ladies and that the cows always come first, even before Thanksgiving dinner on occasion!

3) The Dairy Mom is a California transplant but third generation dairy producer who is dairying with her family right here in northeastern Ohio. She has great real-life farm pics and does a great job showing and explaining how the cows and calves on their farm are cared for each and everyday. She talks about antibiotic use and environmental concerns.

3) Right now there's a milk mustache contest going on over at The Dairyman's Blog. This Alabama dairyman gives regular updates on life at his farm...everything from his heifers getting into trouble and the quick rescue that ensued to field work updates.

4) Stop by to meet the farmers behind the Borden Milk brand (a 100% farmer-owned cooperative) as they show you around their farms. Several of them are even from Ohio, like the Pfeifer family of Bucyrus and the Griffith family of Bethel.

5) And if you're looking to add a little fun to your Twitter, follow the dozen cows from Ontario that are tweeting about their life on the farm at the Teet Tweet Dairy Diary. From their daily milk production to poetic quotes, you never know what these cows will be tweeting about.

Hope you enjoy the reads!

Tuesday Tag-Along

Friday, June 4, 2010

June is Dairy month! Let's make some butter!

Nothing makes a summer day better than a big old ice cream cone! So this summer, our hats are off to those fabulous dairy farmers who make it possible to enjoy all those yummy treats like ice cream,  yogurt, butter, pudding, cottage cheese...this list goes on! In honor of Dairy Month, all month long we're going to be posting about cool dairy learning and activities...except for the last week of the month. That week we'll be posting about turkeys, because my good friend Katie over at On the Banks of Squaw Creek reminded me that June is turkey month, too!

Our first kid-friendly, dairy learning opportunity of the month is butterific! No's making butter! The idea for this activity came from one of our super bloggy friends (who also happens to be a former employee here at OARDC) the Farmgirl over at Farmgirl Follies. She's a super-mom, blogging rockstar, so be sure to check her out!

The supply list is simple: 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and a food processor. You'll also need a cheesecloth, bowl and sieve (or you can make do with a colander, coffee filter and bowl.) Optional are honey and cinnamon.  Just add the cream to your food processor and turn it on.
First, the cream will start to thicken:
Then, after about 5-6 minutes, chunks of creamy butter will appear. The liquid whey will remain at the bottom of the food processor. You'll hear a distinctly different sound from your food processor when this happens.
Now for the fun part: The Farmgirl is an super-duper, always prepared crafty domestic goddess of an over-achiever. I'm not. She used a cheesecloth and sieve to separate the butter and whey. For instructions and pictures on that, check out her super-fab blog. I made do with a colander and coffee filter to separate the butter from the whey.
Now your butter is done. Easy peasy, right? But this  is where the Farmgirl shows her genius: with optional ingredients of honey (about a tablespoon)...
And some cinnamon...
The end result? Super yum!

Now your kids will have had a good time, you have somethign fab for supper, and the kids know a little bit more about where their food comes from1

Just one last thing: to continue the dairy month celebration, we're going to be sharing one other cool dairy site a week that you should check out. This week, we suggest Two Maids a MilkingThese dairy girls will delight your taste buds with great recipes and let you know all about daily life on a working dairy farm. Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Everything's coming up roses!

Sorry...we're behind. Due to some personal issues, it's been a week and a half since our blog has been updated. But I promise to make it up to you! How? Two blog posts this week and then back on schedule for next week...promise!

So summer is upon us. The kids are out of school, and you're looking for something to keep them busy and occupied. Trust me, I know how it goes. (Our house has 3 kidders ages 7 and below. Yikes!) The question is, what can you do with them?

How about making some super-cool, super-easy rose bookmarks? The inspiration for these comes from our friends over at Disney Family.

These are so easy my 5-year old made them. You start by cutting a pipe cleaner in half:

Pick some pretty paper or cardstock, then cut out 4 identical hearts.

We used the Creative Memories heart maker because it's simple, everything is identical, and most importantly, we had one on hand. :)

Even a 5-year old can manage! :)

Next step: use some kind of adhesive to mount one of the hearts to the pipe cleaner. If you use something like Zots, use the medium or large size...the small is too me, I know. I ended up using my tape runner from my scrapbook stash. Put the pointy part of the heart up so that it looks like the center part of a rose.

Now attach the second heart right on top of the first one:

Now bend back the tips with your fingers just enough to make it look like the rose petals are opening up:

Now for the outer petals. Fold the remaining two hearts in half:

Now open it back up flat and fold the pointy tip back. Fold it in half again and fold back the fat parts of the heart. This will be a petal opening on the rose:

Now, fasten them to the rose:

Repeat on the other side with the other heart:

Add some ribbons or decorations to spruce it up if you want. We used a tag maker punch to make name tags:

Colors and options are limitless!

Sound like fun? Come join us at our open house next weekend at OARDC's Garden of Roses of Legend and Romance! The whole family can enjoy the 500 varieties of old-fashioned and antique roses (there are 3 plantings of each variety for a total of about 1,500 rose plants), and the kids can make these cool rose bookmarks while the adults are looking around. There will also be historical interpreters on-hand re-enacting activites from the period of the era of the French and Indian War. Admission is free, and hours are from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 12. Kids activities will be offered from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. For more information, click the link above or contact Kelly King at 330-263-3612 or e-mail

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