Tuesday, May 23, 2006

So, How's the Milk price in the Grocery Store?

I bet it hasn't gone down any. I bet they'll blame it on the gas. Yah, the fuel cost. Farmer's cannot get the money for the milk to pay for the cost of production, let alone a make allowance like the processors. I wonder if the consumer knows that the dairy shelves are the most profitable part of a grocery store. Most if not all stuff on those shelves are returnable to the processor if not sold. The shrink (that is what they call not sold stuff) is then passed on to the farmer. Neither the processor or retailer have any risk here.

Something that Hay Bob said to Dave really pissed me off the other day. There is a large, fairly messy farm, on the other side of the hill. They've plowed up all of the fields but haven't purchased any corn yet. Get this. He is waiting for FSA (government) to get him a loan for the corn. You know why he is assured the purchase? He owes the government too much. They have to give him the loan or they loose too much money. Get that. We have over production of milk in the country and he is assured a loan (even cocky about it) because he owes the government too much. When does the government say "You know, I think we can take this loss. It'll bring milk prices up if your milk is out of the market. Others will likely pay their bills if we say no..." I dunno. Why is the government in the business of loaning money to anyone? I think it encourages flooding the market with crap.

Oneida County got MILC payments for farmers last month and April last week. Looks like we have to have special priveleges to get money from our county. The boss did that last time. I hate this lack of transparency and lack of consistency among county officials. Why should I have to play their games and ship my milk to their favorite cooperative to get this farmer welfare check on time? Heck, if the government actually did the oversite that they are suppose to do, we wouldn't have to take this check at all. It is the only subsidy we take. Can't not apparently. Tried to refuse and had it deposited last time anyways. Need it this year with WAY WAY below production price for milk. Even when animals are at grass and they are getting half the grain it is too low.

We have 8 cows that need feet trimmed. Guess what? If we actually got what our milk is worth, we could have done it this month. We are contemplating what to sell just to pay bills, let alone the trimming of sore feet. I've already taken freelance jobs to cover grocery, telephone, and other bills that have to get paid. I told Dave I'd sell the goats to pay for the hood trimming. He was angry. Dairy farmers are depressed lately.

The media thinks we are a bunch of peasants (look at ads on TV depicting farmers, they are dressed like some 1940's morons and are presented as fools). Ask any person to draw a picture of a farmer. Most will draw a picture of a man with a cowboy/straw hat, bib overalls, straw out of mouth, maybe a tractor... What is a farmer? Why can't peole see that most are college educated business people who are passionate about food and the environment. The rest are corporate farms that "Believe" like some bible thumping christian believes in some holy redemption. I dunno. I cannot spell, so I'm having a hard time completing thoughts here.

June Federal Order Class I Price Drops 22 Cents(May 19, 2006) The June Federal order Class I base milk price was announced Friday at $10.75 per hundredweight, down 22 cents from May and $2.87 below a year ago. The price triggers a 99.96 cent MILC payment to producers.

The NASS-surveyed butter price averaged $1.1658, up 2.3 cents from May. Cheese averaged $1.1602, down from $1.1698. Nonfat dry milk averaged 83.09 cents per pound, down from 84 cents in May, and dry whey averaged 28.11 cents, down from 30.56 cents in May.

Advanced Pricing Factors
June 2006
May 2006
Apr. 2006
*The Base Skim Milk Class I:
Class III skim:
Class IV skim:
Class II Skim price:
Class II NFS price:
ClickHereTo See Price Formulas

Monday, May 22, 2006


I think that is a good title for anyone. I still have this cold. Finally went to new Dr. Actually NP, but she is better than the DO... She thinks I have crazy allergies. I think she is right. Chickens on porch. Dogs on porch. Cat downstairs. You'd begin to wonder if there were any animals in the barn. Actually the chickens are chicks.

The birds are "Earley's Specials" we get from the grain store at the bottom of the hill. Claire adores them. Especially when my dogs doesn't take the head off of any. Yup, border collie killed daughters pet chicken in front of her. Dave was furious. Dog wasn't suppose to be in room. Dave not in touch with border collie's need to hunt. He lets dog in unsupervised. Chicken stupid enough to keep putting head through grate in dog box. Dog kills chicken. Apparently it was my fault, but I was at a Slow Foods even in Cazenovia trying to talk about my cheese, NY cheese and NY wine with all of our cheeses. Weather warms at end of week. Chickens in purpose built building at weekends end. I am really not into poutlry in the house. I don't care how small.

Mandy sent a lovely package of stuff from Mrs. Ronks place. Smalls that weren;t of any value to resell, but she knew I'd appreciate them. Mandy is a special person. I like her whit and humour. She is like my husband, prefers the people of his past and preserving anything from the past. I have to write a book about his Mountain Street Memories. I know these people so well and I've never met them. I also like Mandy's Puppy Horse and her Durham cows.

Bronchitis again. I am exhausted. I think I said that before.

Looks like Adirondak cheese was purchased by Foodies. I've been refered to them by an Ag & Markets inspector. Sounds good.

Got Evan's cheddar and Monterey Jack. OK. Technically good. Not a $16/# cheese though. Comperable to Organic Valley's stuff. I made some of it into grilled cheeses. Syracuse Real Food bought me out of inventory. We never made it to the Syracuse Wine and Cheese event. I couldn't do it alone and everyone backed out. I'd have looked like an idiot. Besides, I didn't have the oil in cryovac and would have had to wax every piece. Oooooof. I think they guy was pissed, but what can I do if all of the help back out. The price of gas and our collective milk checks could not pay for me to go. I could not help it. Did ok at Farmer's Market. I just have to sell it myself and not split profits with Rivington.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Slow Food Farmers Markets Rain Milk Check

I have to bring cheese to the Slow Foods wine and cheese deal at Circa. I have Rivington's as well. People went googoo over his blue at the Farmer's Market. My gouda went over well too. I have to get may act together and get set up at the market myself. I need to make more than $60+/market day. I'll have other cheeses ready soon, not just Gouda.

Rain makes Dave ugly. Well, more than one day of rain. I can only say that I am glad we weren't in Massachusetts. They had floods. I like floods. I like them on someone elses property.

Well, it finally happened. Milk was <$12/hwt. Our cows were transitioning to grass so the components took a dip for a wee bit. Should have been over $2000 check. Was $1200 give or take $50. Enough to pay insurance and a couple of small bills. Not grocerys, heating oil, grain or anything else. He is selling a cow and her weaned heifer calf to make up for the lack of revenue. Monsanto put rBST on market again and poof, milk price goes down again. I don't understand why consumers allow a major chemical company have so much control of the food system. Ramember those lovely chemicals they told us were safe in the 40's and 50's? Man, Phillip Morris and Monsanto have no place being in our food system. I don't get why consumers allow such control to be in their hands.

Claire is with Dave at his relatives place on the other side of the windmills. He is suppose to be getting a book about the silo unloader. I think the real plan was to dissapear for a little while. I told him my goals for the day. It included things to make my money for the month to pay my bills, not work for free for him, so this is his way to pout. Kinda like I said to Nancy last night, a mans idea of babysitting is to have the child in his presence while he does his own thing. I had him take Claire while I get invoices ready to send Monday and make the "semi-daily ponderings of a Central new York farm wife." He has been gone an hour and some. I think I can play for a couple of minutes too.

Off to the shower. The dishwasher just finished.

Boycott Deans Foods ~ How So Few Can Change So Much

For Release:05/19/06Contacts:Steven Heim, Boston Common Asset Management, 617-720-5557 or 617-785-9527(c)Daniel Stranahan, The Needmor Fund, 206-794-3656Mark Kastel, The Cornucopia Institute, 608-625-2042. Investors Question Dean Foods at Stockholders MeetingHorizon Organic Milk Brand Faces Consumer Boycott Over Factory Farms. DALLAS: Socially concerned investors, who filed a shareholder proposal withDean Foods, today questioned the company's management at its Annual Meeting of Stockholders in Dallas as its marquee organic brand faces a growingconsumer backlash over its reliance on factory-farm milk production.Investors believe the large-scale dairy operations are damaging the Horizon Organics brand and threaten shareholder value.Because of their concern, shareholders filed a proposal in December 2005 asking Dean Foods' management to report to investors on how it is respondingto widespread public criticism that industrial-scale organic dairies,supplying milk for its Horizon brand, violate consumer trust and seriously jeopardize share value. Company management responded to the proposal by having its attorneys file a formal protest with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asking for permission to omit the proposal from Dean's 2006 proxy statement on a series of legal technicalities. Proponents withdrew the proposal in March inresponse to the challenge but brought their concerns to today's annual shareholders meeting. The shareholder proposal is a by-product of the five-year debate raging inthe organic industry over the introduction of large-scale factory-style dairy farms, milking as many as 10,000 cows each. A growing number of public interest, environmental, and farming groups are suggesting that these farms violate current USDA regulations by labeling their products as organic.The shareholders, led by Boston Common Asset Management, are asking for greater transparency from Dean Foods in terms of its organic milk suppliers and its plans for meeting the high consumer expectations for ethics and integrity in the rapidly growing organic milk market. "Even though Dean Foods and its Horizon brand procure at least half of their organic milk from family farms, we think management needs to rethink its sourcing of milk from these controversial mega-dairies, or this ongoing practice will drag down the Horizon brand and harm shareholder value," said Steven Heim, Director of Social Research of Boston Common Asset Management. Last year, The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy group, filed formal complaints with the USDA against three industrial dairies, including one owned by Dean Foods and another dairy from which it purchases organic milk for its Horizon label. The complaints allege that these mega-farms are violating the law by confining their cattle to feedlots and sheds rather than grazing the animals on pasture. The Institute ispreparing to seek court intervention in order to force a full investigation of the alleged improprieties. In March the Cornucopia Institute published a report (available atwww.cornucopia.org) profiling the ethical and farm management practices ofthe nation's organic dairy product suppliers. The Horizon brand ranked poorly relative to most of the 67 other branded organic dairy products." We find this a credible report, and we are disturbed by its implicationsfor Dean Foods," Heim said. Dean Foods is the nation's largest milk marketer and has also become the biggest U.S. marketer of organic dairy products with its acquisitions of theHorizon Organic, Alta Dena, and Organic Cow of Vermont brands. The company's core business has been somewhat stagnant in recent years, and it has recently been touting its investments in the organic milk labels and thecountry's leading soy milk brand, Silk, as vehicles to make its stock more attractive on Wall Street. But negative press surrounding Dean's organic milk procurement practices has already led to some retailers dropping the Horizon brand. And members ofthe Organic Consumers Association recently voted in favor of a boycott."It is very important for Dean to address the core concerns articulated in our shareholder resolution," said Margaret Weber, Coordinator of Corporate Responsibility with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. "Transparency regarding organic practices has business implications for the company." Weber explained that the shareholder proposal asked the company to appoint an independent committee of the board to review its policies and procedures for sourcing raw milk for its organic dairy products, and whether its current practices conform to the spirit as well as the letter of the official rules defining organic dairy products. The investor groups also want to know how the company intends to respond to increasing consumer and media scrutiny, and whether a proposed $10 million investment in an additional large-scale dairy farm in Idaho will mitigate or exacerbate the criticism. Horizon has also been criticized for disposing of calves born at its organic farms and replacing them with yearling heifers that were not raised organically. These commercial replacement cattle may have been raised on feed treated with pesticides and mixed with additives including bloodproducts recovered from slaughtering operations." We are concerned that Dean Foods' lack of transparency to its shareholders betrays a similar attitude toward its core consumers, particularly consumers of its Horizon brand products," said Daniel Stranahan of the Needmor Fund, another investor-sponsor of the resolution. "Industrial dairies with 2,000 to 10,000 cows are antithetical to the concept of organic farming, which supports family-scale production with sound environmental policies."And Leslie Lowe, director of the environment program at the InterfaithCenter for Corporate Responsibility in New York, said, "Dean Foods has an excellent opportunity to return value to its shareholders through its investments in the organic industry. But they must respect the ethical beliefs of their organic customers, a very loyal and sophisticated market segment. Otherwise these investments could end up damaging their brand and costing investors dearly."- 30 -EDITOR'S NOTE: A Representative of the shareholders' groups is in Dallas May 19 for the Dean Foods Annual Meeting of Stockholders being held at theDallas Museum of Art, located at 1717 North Harwood. Steven Heim is available for interviews before and after the meeting and can be reached at617-720-5557 or 617-785-9527 (c).Mark Kastel, of The Cornucopia Institute, is also attending today'sshareholders' meeting. Mr. Kastel can be contacted at 608-385-3803. The Cornucopia Institute acts as a technical adviser to investment groups regarding organic dairy production issues, USDA organic standards, and their policy/marketing implications. More criticism of Dean Food's organic brand management has recently surfaced with reports that its Idaho 4,000-head dairy has been selling all of the organic calves born on the farm and then replacing them with yearling heifers that were not raised organically. These commercial replacement cattle may have been raised on feed treated with pesticides, weaned on milkreplacer containing blood products recovered from slaughtering operations,and been injected with hormones and antibiotics. All of these practices are unacceptable to organic consumers. The new concerns are raising questions about the company's representation of its Horizon milk products as produced without antibiotics, hormones or toxic pesticides. Contact:Steven Heim, Director of Social Research, Boston Common Asset Management,LLC, 84 State Street, Suite 1000, Boston, MA 02109 Tel. 617-720-5557 Fax617-720-5665, email sheim@bostoncommonasset.com

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chicken Poop and Bull Sperm

I should use that as the title of my memoirs.

Day started with Claire and her baby chicks. See, Claire told Miss Nancy at Day Care that she got baby chicks this week. Well Mom (me) tried to reward her for helping around the house and cleaning her room. I think a sweet is a better idea next time. Sweets don't poop on you.

Back to the story. Miss Nancy declared this Pet Week. Full week of Wanderer's Rest and pet care stuff. I was planning on bringing Clarie's goat Karo, but baby chicks it is.

Dave at Dependa Bull rang. Pretty early. Ring me before 8am and I'm likely to answer. He starts out by asking what I am doing. "Getting the chickens ready for Day Care" I tell him. A pause. "Chickens ready for Day Care. I thought you people in Hamilton were different..." Right.

"No, my Daughter's Day Care. It is Pet Week and MS. NANCY wants the chickens." I emphasise Ms. like you aren't suppose to do anything anyone names Ms. wants you to do. He chickles and says he figured that we were sending our birds to day care.

He then asked if I knew anyone named XXY. Nope. I don't know them. How about a John Truelson Jr. Yes. I know John. He is the manager at Plimoth. Want his number. Apparently after the morning was done I found that this fellow from Alaska rang John a year ago. Probably associated with the people who rang me and sent a letter to Dave. They were looking for bull sperm. They did their research apparenlty. Gave Dave a very detailed flight itinerary for the sperm. Kinda like the one Dave got for a potential calf last year. John has the semen at the Plantation now. Many sorts interested in conserving/owning rare breeds. I don't think any Guiness sperm is going to Alaska.

Lisa had a heart attack. Not a real one. She thought her cow was in labor all day. She has this midget kerry (Dexter) that is due to pop. No bigger than our weaned holsteins only with a heckof a hay belly. Neither were ready. The Dexter was more ready than the Kerry/Devon. We had coffee, biscotti and doubel stuffed oreo cookies.

Dave got the winch off of Tom's silo. Made me feel good. Didn't have to pay $485 for a new one. He helped Tom fix the harrows yesterday. Tom's Christian Logger payed him pretty well for the Maple today. $7600. There may be some veneer logs in the group. Most were "pasture maples". (if a tree grows near a meadow they tend to have more limbs that trees grown in a forest. Pines can go up 40-70 feet before you get limbs. Loggers prefer those. Less work).

Have to do the Wine event in Syracuse this weekend. Not looking forward to it. I've had so much interruption this week. Poor grammer there. Didn't get squat done. Looks like Colgate graduates this weekend and I probably should be selling cheese in Hamilton, not at a Wine Festival. Who knows I may do well. I'll drop in at Syracuse Real Food and see how my cheeses are selling there on the way home.

Heard from Rona. Guess she's had a long winter too. I was glad to know she was alive. Cheesemakers are solitary by nature. I think that it is good for us to check in on eachother. Keeps up in touch with the world. Makes me feel better when friends look me up out of the blue. She sent me info on a new Artisan Cheese makers Alminac type book. There is an application to fill out to get into it. I got the pictures back from Ian. Need product photos now. I may look into doing that tomorrow or Monday. He wants them by June 15th.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

workshops aging kerrys and surgery

Donna Doel is coming to do a workshop June 9-10th. Bloomy Rind cheeses. I'm looking forward to it. She deserves a cheese holiday and I'd like to continue with the cheese making workshops.

Fisher Farms looked at our cooler. Looks like he fixed the two leaks that Harry missed. Poor fellow. He is getting on, but the bills to keep filling gas and fix leak were getting on too. We shall see. Will check the temp in am. If a go, I'll be transfering cheeses tomorrow afternoon.

Kerry cows are at Whitman's. His daughter renames all of our cows. At first I was annoyed, but then remembered that we renamed Bagel Beagle into Ginger, so who am I to talk? Cows are relaxed. I hope Fritz does his job. He will be opening the gate to the big pasture tomorrow.

Dave's stomach is a wee swelled a week later. We are hoping it is an infection, not another tear. Odd to wish for an infection. Maybe it is just irritation or common swelling?? I hope it is nothing. He wants to be in the barn milking. Cannot entertain him otherwise. Sleep, eat, auctions and milking cows. That is a dairy farmer's life. (ok add manure spreading and the like to that list).

I still have death by snots. Cannot get Dr. appointment until Monday (next week). Figured I'd be cured of sickness or walking pneumonia. Need to wear mask for cheesemaking this week, if I make it at all. Don't like to drip into vats. Not too hygenic.

Mailed the hoops to Art. BIG PACKAGES. Got it to him for less than UPS, so happy about that.

Claire got baby chicks yesterday. Two of them in a dog box in the kitchen make for a lot of noise. Cat TV we have decided. I am actually not sure who is more entertained Claire, Gary (cat) or the Beagle.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Puppy, Surgery and Death by Snots

Candice had baby on Monday. Boy. Silas Neil Bemont. A poop shy of 8# according to the happy grandmother (Lisa). We have the Beagle, Bagel, Ginger, Beagle Head, Puppy, Devil Dog... Poor thing isn't lacking for names. Beagles are odd creatures. It owns our dogs right now. Clarie adores it. It will either go back in two weeks or maybe Dana's daughter's boyfirend...

Dave had surgery last Friday (week from today). Went well. He had crazy black and blue marks and some swelling. He wants to milk tomorrow. It has been hard to get him to stop pushing himself. Better not hurt himself...

We have Death By Snots. Sawter at Dependa Bull had it for 6 weeks. Oof. Guess it can turn into walking pneumonia or bronchitis in some. Had the perifery stars and 2-3 second blackness in eyes this morning. No sleep for 2 weeks kinda contributes to some of it. Tylenol PM sucks. Takes 2 hours to set in and then I cannot get up to milk in a decent time frame. Move awful slowly while doing chores. Boy do I hate colds.

Marcia and Kenny go home tomorrow. They were kind enough to help out this week. Claire loved it. Dave and i both appreciated it VERY much. Took them out to breakfast. Quack's doesn't have good food anymore. Odd watching someone come out of the kitchen to sit at table like a customer and then serve themselves like it was their house. Very uncomfortable.

Cannot stop coughing. Have to run.