Illinois Farm Families Blog

Oct 31 2011

Field Mom Amy Rossi’s impressions on farms and food

Amy RossiThe Martz family’s beef cattle, soybean, corn and wheat farm

 My first impression of the Martz’s farm was that it was clean.  Clean in the way that makes you think someone cares about it. As we were welcomed into their “business” office, I felt like things would feel official. It was anything but official. They were all very well-spoken, articulate, and passionate. We were able to ask questions and they gave answers that were honest and thought provoking.  

 Throughout the whole day we could ask anything about everything. I especially liked Mike's saying “we do 100 things 1% better not 1 thing 100% better.” I believe that was not only their mantra for the farm, but the way they lived their lives. I learned many new things that day at their farm; seed selection, ground prep, how the combine works (though not really!), how they ultrasound cows to gain more information, how much moisture is allowed in their corn, their use of Texas wasps to combat flies, and the list is endless!

Lynn and Mike both operate separate areas of the farm. Lynn works the grain side and Mike works the cattle side but they both have to work together. How cyclical the whole process of farming is was surprising to me. I like knowing that farmers use all of their resources to the best of their ability, nothing is wasted. I was impressed by their love of their farm and the people and animals that live there. I won't look at my food in the same way ever again!

 The Drendel family’s dairy farm

 Ahhh Milk! My family drinks about 6 gallons of milk a week, so seeing just where it comes from was insightful and interesting. Learning about cows and calves and their lot in life was a little unsettling for me. Being a Mom to six kids, I felt a certain affinity for the cows and the fact that they are never allowed to nurse their calves was somewhat sad. I am intelligent enough to know that the cows are there for a reason and it isn't to raise a “family.”

 Once I got over that fact, I did manage to learn about milk production. I got to see the stages of a cow's life, the calves, the “teenagers” and the adult females. When it was time for milking, the cows knew where to go and were willing participants in the milking process. We were allowed into the parlor and got to watch the cows being hooked up to the machines for milking. We even got to stick our thumbs inside the milking machine to feel exactly what the cow feels. Once again, the technology used in farming is amazing. We learned what pasteurization means and homogenization is. When asked about skim milk, Dale chuckled and gave us the lowdown on 1%, 2%, and whole milk 3.5%! We were able to ask about anything we saw.

 The Drendels had their veterinarian on hand to answer the question about hormones in the milk. I believe he answered the question intelligently and honestly. I know, for myself, I believe that milk is milk. Whether grain fed, grass fed, organic, or not, the dairy farmer cares about the welfare of their cows. They are their livelihood and they treat the cows like family. The Drendel’s farm was well run and Dale, Linda, and their daughter Julie were welcoming and open to answering all of our questions. My family will continue to do their part in consuming milk!

 Amy Rossi
Naperville, Illinois

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