"Red Solo cup, I fill you up, let’s have a party"! This is a line from a popular country song. Memorial Day was recently celebrated everywhere with barbecues and parties. June is here and graduation parties will be in full swing, weddings and receptions are happening, there will be family get-togethers for Father’s Day, festivals and tractor pulls are taking place and much more. Dairy shows and county fairs are beginning. Many of the people involved in all the activities are dairy farmers. I have to ask, "What’s in your red Solo cup"? Did you serve dairy products or did your red Solo cup hold non-dairy?

Numerous events are taking place in the coming months, including many dairy activities. I recently learned of a dairy event in which local wine and beer vendors will be on hand for sampling before a barbecue. Isn’t that dairy farmers "shooting themselves in the foot"? It is a well-planned event open not only to dairy people but also to the public. This is a time when one of the major problems is production of too much milk. Wouldn’t it be better to find ways to utilize our own product at events? What about the image we create for the people attending the activities?

Please don’t think I am "picking" on any certain dairy happening. I recently attended a get-together for dairy people and even though different flavors of milk were available, the majority of people there were drinking soft drinks or beer, which the dairy group had provided. That seems to happen everywhere at many types of dairy events. How can we dairy farmers expect consumers to purchase and use more dairy products when we don’t set an example ourselves?

I have to admit there are cans of soda in my refrigerator. However, needing to watch my diet and do things in a "healthful" way, I limit myself to one can a day — a treat for me. I was brought up in an alcohol free environment. I have never tasted beer nor do I feel a need to. I don’t drink alcohol, however there are a couple bottles in my cupboard. I have deer hunters who bring me gifts of candy and alcoholic beverages as a way to thank me for letting them hunt. They are such nice guys (the family is originally from Poland) and always think they are bringing me something special, so I don’t have the heart to tell them I don’t drink the stuff. I always kept a bottle in the barn and when I had a baby calf born weak or in very cold weather. I mixed whiskey and colostrum milk and gave it to them. It gets them going! In the old days I had a milkman who sometimes needed a little to get going also. He passed on the colostrum.

I am constantly reading articles and letters to the editor stating we need to get consumers to use more dairy products. Dairy farmers should set an example for others to follow by using their own products as much as possible and especially when the public is watching. However, I am neither naive nor stupid and I know that milk is not the only beverage they are going to drink. And of course, coffee is a must for so many, but at least some add milk or cream. We need to do everything we can to help solve the problem of too much milk. Consumers have a "special image" of dairy farmers and farm life. Be careful not to spoil it!