Every once in a while a company makes a major change in the way they do business. Sometimes the drive to change comes from internal forces, sometimes it comes from external forces. We have changed the way we run our dairy business at least a couple times in the 13 years we have been farming.
    I do not like to think of our household as a company, but there are several parallels. We run our household on a budget, we expect everyone to do their jobs, and when we are not satisfied with how things are going, we change the way we operate.
    For all of my adult life (and my pre-adult life), cold cereal was a staple. But it was not just for breakfast. Oftentimes a bowl of cereal with milk was an afternoon snack and sometimes, on really rough days, it was supper, too.
    This summer, I noticed that a bowl of cereal had become the go-to, eat-anytime meal for our kids. If I was late getting in to make lunch or supper, I often found they had already helped themselves to cereal.
    And while I am glad our kids are capable of taking care of themselves, I did not like them choosing cereal anytime of the day. So I talked with them about the importance of waiting for meal times. And on the days they were in charge of making lunch for themselves, I encouraged them to make sandwiches and cut up an apple – anything other than cereal.
    But, the cold cereal kept disappearing almost as fast as I bought it.
    We were sitting around the table eating lunch one day when Dan asked, “Is there anything we can do in the house to help save money?”
    Dan has been reading the headlines on the dairy newspapers and magazines that come in the mail. He has been asking questions, so we have had several age-appropriate conversations about the current financial situation most dairy farmers – us included – are facing.
    I used Dan’s question as an opportunity to present my ponderings on cold cereal. I told the kids we could save money – and eat a more balanced diet – by discontinuing cold cereal. We talked about all of the other breakfast options we have, including hot cereal.
    The kids were all for the idea. I have not bought a bag of cold cereal since.
    I now put a batch of oatmeal in the slow cooker before I go to bed at night, so there is hot oatmeal ready right away in the morning. It took a little trial and error to perfect overnight oatmeal, but I have got it figured out now. I found that a $5 outlet timer (the kind people use for Christmas lights) let me turn my basic slow cooker into a programmable slow cooker.
    On the mornings the kids do not want oatmeal, they have yogurt smoothies or toaster pancakes or bagels.
    If I end up with a lot of leftover oatmeal, I either refrigerate it for the next day or turn it into leftover oatmeal quick bread. This quick bread is so yummy that I actually look forward to leftover oatmeal.
    I walked by the cold cereal aisle at the grocery store yesterday. For half a second I thought, maybe I should grab a bag for a treat. Then I thought, nah, we are doing just fine without it. Actually, we are doing great without it.
    When teams (or families) communicate openly about change and make sure everyone is on board, change can be for the better.
    Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children – Dan, 11, Monika, 8, and Daphne, 5. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at sadiefrericks@gmail.com.