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HERd Management: Flavor challenge accepted

Contributed by Amber McComish Published on 19 April 2021
"Lady Howie" gelato

March was a big month for us. We celebrated our heritage, we celebrated the coming of warm weather, and we celebrated Women’s History Month.

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin challenged me recently to embody a gelato flavor for a woman in the dairy industry. I did not take this challenge lightly. I immediately started thinking of women who have impacted me and my growth in the industry throughout my life. It took me some digging, but I found a very worthy lady of my dedication.

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Adda Howie grew up on a farm and, as the saying goes, “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” It totally applies to Mrs. Howie. She married a coal dealer and was a Milwaukee socialite but still chose to go back and do what she loved on the farm.

Known as one of the most successful female dairy farmers in America, Adda Howie was the first woman to sit on the Wisconsin Board of Agriculture, along with claiming many other awards and titles.

If that wasn’t enough, what drew me the most to her was her farming practices. As a farmer myself, I can appreciate the time and commitment she put into her animals. She was most known to sing and play her mandolin to her cows. She also made sure they got daily scratches and put up curtains on her barn windows. You could say she was a bit extra with her animal care – and boy, am I here for it.

So how does one turn a woman such as this into a gelato flavor? That is an excellent question. I first started with some of the related flavors we already had. We currently have a Bourbon Jersey Caramel flavor in our lineup. Adda loved her Jerseys very dearly. It was only natural for me to make this flavor our base to tribute such a large part of her life. I too have a soft spot for Jerseys.

What do I add next? This part took some thought. Adda Howie made butter in her beginning days to make money and expand her herd. She was a modern-day entrepreneur like myself. Making more from her milk to help fund her cow hobby. Jeez, the more I write about this lady, the faster she becomes my idol. To make this flavor every inch about her, I decided to use ribbon swirls of peanut butter throughout to make up for actually using butter. No need to thank me. I knew I still needed to add a little something extra because this lady was something special. I polished it off by adding chopped peanut butter cups and a little caramel drizzle – because why not?

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The final product is super-flavorful, decadent and extra. Just like our Mrs. Howie. Now, lastly, what do I name it? That part was probably the easiest. In the articles I read, it was said her friends and colleagues used to refer to her as “Lady Howie,” a name super-fitting and worthy of this flavor and woman.

Lady Howie was truly a dairywoman activist in her day. I would like to think she paved the way for our now very woman-dominated industry. Women can and are dairy farmers. We are awesome caregivers and, like Lady Howie, we bring that to the care of our cows. So in the spirit of Women’s Dairy History, I give you a flavor that I hope fulfills the likeness and the spirit of Lady Howie. end mark

In Adda Howie’s name, I will be donating 25 percent of the sales of this flavor to the Second Harvest Food Banks, Adopt-A-Cow. This charity provides dairy products to the food banks of Southern Wisconsin.

Information gathered from Scholar Commons

This blog is reprinted with permission from McComish Family Farms. Learn more about McComish’s gelato on her website.

Amber McComish
  • Amber McComish

  • Dairy Producer
  • Darlington, Wisconsin
  • Email Amber McComish

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