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HERd management: Mealtime is precious time on a dairy

Amy Engberson Published on 10 October 2013

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I’m a dairy wife, mom of three boys, bookkeeper, occasional tractor driver and blogger.

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Before I married, I swore I would never do two things.

First, live in eastern Idaho. Second, marry a dairy farmer.

You guessed it – I did both. Before we married, my farmer assured me the dairy smelled like money. I am convinced now more than ever that he is right.

It smells like money. It smells like money coming – and more money going. I must admit that my dairy farmer is worth the stink and green rubber boots that I was so opposed to.

Our family owns and operates a dairy farm in eastern Idaho. We milk 1,000 cows and farm 1,200 acres of hay, grain and corn ground.

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Our dairy is a third-generation family dairy, and my boys have dreams of being the fourth generation. We are in the business of producing milk and raising dairy cattle, but we are really in the business of raising and producing our three boys.

Farm families spend more time together than most families, although it is a totally different kind of time spent together. We say we are together when we wave to each other as we pass in the fields.

Date night consists of my husband dropping me off at the grocery store while he runs to the parts and supply stores. The most common father-and-son activity is called “sorting cows.”

The conversation goes something like this, “Let the big black one go! Not that big black one!” We count all of these activities as being together. You’ve got to take what you can get.

Our schedule is so hectic, and that’s why I am passionate about mealtimes. It’s one of the few times during the day when we stop and take time to really be together.

Most of the time, we sit down to eat only to find out a cow is calving, the cows are out, or a tractor is stuck. Regularly, a salesman rings the doorbell during lunch.

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I haven’t figured out if he comes more often to sell something or to get a bite of lunch. However hectic it is, we still make an effort to have meals together, and it’s worth every effort.

I like mealtime to be a quality time to learn more about each others’ day. We have serious discussions about life.

We were informed that my oldest wants to be a vet, my middle child wants to be an engineer – and my youngest wants to be a snow-cone maker.

We have teaching and learning moments.

One dinner conversation resulted into us getting out all of the salt and pepper shakers so we could teach our fourth-grade football player about the different positions in the game of football. It was salt versus pepper.

Most often, we share lots of giggles during meals. My 3-year-old announced during dinner that he would not be getting married. Not ever. He would never kiss any girl on the lips. I love the memories that are made and the conversations we have as we make mealtime a priority.

I am equally passionate about having something yummy for my family once they get to the table. Food is my love language, and I always hope that my boys feel the love in every bite. It’s important to me that the food I serve is delicious, balanced, quick and fun.

Because I live on a dairy, I make a point of adding dairy products to almost every recipe I make. Besides, I love butter, cream, cheese, yogurt and more cheese. Who doesn’t?

Farm life creates so many unknowns concerning mealtime. You never know when you are going to get to town to buy more groceries. You never know how many people will actually show up for dinner. And you never, ever know what time it will be.

Although, I have learned, if I need my family to come home, all I have to do is mop my floors or make cookies. Life is crazy, and that’s why I wouldn’t miss out on the benefits of being together at the table.

I believe the farm lifestyle that I love and the dinner table go hand in hand. I hope dinner time will bring your family together. I wanted to promote farm food and farm families, so I created a blog .

Stop by, get a chuckle and see if you can find something to bring to your table. Make your table a place where stories are told, advice is given and memories are created.

You never know, you might find out that your middle child made a career change and wants to be a bear hunter now. PD

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Amy Engberson
Dairy Producer
Monteview, Idaho

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