September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

"How do you make a milk cow?"

By Christine Reitsma- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

I welcomed these past three weeks of being at home with open arms. Although some may argue, the not-so-Minnesotan weather was incredible. There was a certain joy that came with not having to wear a jacket in the barn in January, not having to shovel pathways to the calf huts and not having to worry about freezing waterlines. While I was able to put on my chore boots a few times during break, I also spent a great deal of time advocating for the dairy industry as Princess Kay.
I went back to school on Jan. 3 not as a student but as an educator. I had such fun with my first elementary school visit in Avon. Leah Middendorf and Kirsten Meier, two Stearns County dairy princesses, were great with the children. The students gasped when Leah stated that a cow drinks almost a bathtub full of water every day and when Kirsten told them about the four compartments of a cow's stomach. We each brought in pictures of our family farms as well as bags of feed, straw, hay, grain, and milk replacer to show the students how each can differ from farm to farm. When talking about Fuel Up to Play 60, we had all of the students stand up and do jumping jacks, while promising them that they could refuel afterward with cheese sticks and yogurt provided by Stearns County ADA. Eight children volunteered to compete in our butter carving challenge and after seeing their sculptures of bottles of milk, tractors, and other dairy products, I would say that Linda Christensen may have some competition! As our final bit of excitement, we were able to tell the kids the challenge that Dairy Star made to them: if they increase their milk consumption by 10 percent, they will be rewarded with a pizza party at the end of the school year. What a great way to get kids to consume more dairy.
From Avon, I traveled to Upsala to visit one of the 12 classrooms that won a visit during the State Fair with the Question of the Day on Princess Kay's Facebook page. Here we used heavy whipping cream in baby food jars and made butter that was spread on crackers for the students to eat while they listened to me read a book about a dairy farm. It was great to hear how knowledgeable all of these children were about farms and I was able to hear stories of some about their own farms as well.
Later on in the week, I attended a district ADA meeting in Little Falls where I was able to talk to a few producers and spoke in front of the group about the MN State Fair and activities I have been involved with since then. From this meeting, I headed to Foley elementary school to visit my cousin's third grade classroom. Yet again, these students were a joy to talk to!
A week later I went to St. Peter to visit two different schools, a local daycare, and Le Sueur Cheese Company. The day had many fun moments from the questions, such as "How do you make a milk cow?" to hearing 20 4-year-olds shouting "pasteurization!" and the number three when asked how many servings of dairy they are supposed to get a day. After my tour at the cheese factory, I was filled with information about the process of turning milk into cheese. I found it especially interesting that from the time milk enters their facility they can turn it into a packaged block of cheese within seven hours!
My classroom visits in St. Peter were my final visits during my winter break. On Jan. 15, I spoke at the Minnesota County Fair Boards Convention about how important county and state fairs are in continuing education of agriculture and from there I moved back into my dorm room.
Being back in the Twin Cities always makes me appreciate the open fields and fresh smells that come from my family farm. With a new semester of classes rapidly approaching, I look forward to the change in my schedule. As dairy farmers, our schedules seem to be constantly changing when dealing with events off the farm. At least for my own family, our time of arrival to anywhere away from home can be changed in seconds depending on if a cow is calving or a piece of machinery breaks down causing us all to be running late. Although these situations can oftentimes be frustrating, they also demonstrate how committed dairy farmers are in putting the care of our animals first. The never-ending commitment of dairy farmers is one of a great number of reasons why I could not be more proud to represent such a hardworking group of people. Keeping up your tremendous work makes my duty as an advocate incredibly fun!
Mary Zahurones is the 58th Princess Kay of the Milky Way and a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her parents, Chuck and Pat Tax, milk cows and farm with their family in Pierz, Minn. If you have a consumer-focused appearance for Princess Kay, contact Seena Glessing at 320-282-6337 or e-mail her at [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]


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