I am often reminded of the complexities of farming life that my husband and our family have been called to do during times like Thanksgiving. I wonder what it would be like to have a job that allows us to turn off the light and go home for a few days and not worry about anything until Monday. Today as I type this we are having one heck of a winter storm that has blizzard conditions and has shut down the ability for my family from Arizona to be with us this holiday. The girls are out of school on a snow day and I have enjoyed spending some quiet moments reading and making crafts with them. Their questions today have been, “Mama how cold do you think Daddy is?” and “Are the cows going to be ok?” Dairy farmers are the stewards of the land and animals that have been entrusted to us and that has to happen through the rain, sleet, and snow. (Hmm... Even the mailman gets Sundays off.) Few professions have that requirement of a non-stop 24/7 and 365 days a year responsibility which is why farming is a “lifestyle” not an occupation.
So as we delve into another slice of pumpkin pie or scoop another pile of stuffing on our plate this holiday here are a few facts about our amazing agriculture industry. It is this unwavering duty of a bountiful harvest that farmers provide for our families through trials and hardships that few can fathom. This call to farm is so labor intensive and mentally exhausting that sometimes we forget to stop and say like my 4 year old daughter often does, “Look what I did!” It is because of my passion to pass this on to the next generation that I will not quit spreading the word so that all may hear, “Hey look what our farmers just did!”
DAIRY (My personal favorite and might I suggest another dollop of butter on your mashed potatoes and extra whipped cream on your pumpkin pie!)
- Idaho is the 2nd largest milk producing state in the twelve western U.S. states and ranks 3rd in the US. As of December 31, 2009, the state had 585 dairy farm operations; producing 12.122 billion pounds of milk (1.410 billion gallons) from the 529,366 cows milking. Idaho is the 3rd largest manufacturer of natural and processed cheese in the U.S. making more than 805 million pounds annually in the state. Approximately 44.3 million gallons of Idaho produced milk is processed into fluid milk for drinking.
POTATOES (Is there anything more synonymous than Idaho and potatoes?)
- With over a century of growing potatoes, Idaho has produced more potatoes than any other state every year since 1957. An estimated 300,000 acres of Idaho Potatoes were harvested – about 11 billion pounds of potatoes. That's enough potatoes to fill 500 NFL football fields. New York uses the most Idaho potatoes, followed by Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas.
WHEAT (Pie crusts, dinner rolls, stuffing!)
- Idaho wheat growers harvested 1.25 million acres of wheat in 2006. That’s over 99 million bushels! The average price for wheat in 2009 was $4.05 a bushel. Nationally, Idaho ranks fifth for wheat and wheat product exports. A single bushel of wheat will make 73 loaves of bread, or 53 boxes of cereal, or 72 pounds of tortillas. One acre of wheat can produce enough wheat to furnish your family with bread for nearly 10 years. Farmers receive about 4 cents per loaf of bread when it’s sold in the stores.
SUGARBEETS (Life wouldn't be the same without dessert!)
- Idaho ranks 3rd in the nation for sugarbeet production and if you live in Idaho you've probably purchased sugar produced by this crop instead of cane sugar. There are 5.5 million tons of sugarbeets harvested here in Idaho!
We all have a farmer to thank for this Thanksgiving meal and every meal we eat. So let’s all give thanks today and every day for our farmers and ranchers!
From Dugan Family Farms to you and yours may you have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Chris, Shelly, Vivian, Eliza, and William Dugan
If you would like to join us as we give thanks to all of our farmers through social media you can go to http://foodthanks.com/