The Mind of an Inventor


As I listened to this Idaho dairy farmer list off idea after idea for making his operation more efficient, I could almost see the inner workings of a complicated clock with gears turning in a perfectly synchronized manner in his mind. For Terry Ketterling, coming up with new inventions and improvements is nearly the equivalent of breathing — it comes naturally and without pause. 


If you talk to Terry’s family, his 150 employees at TLK Dairy, other residents and neighbors in Mountain Home, Idaho, or just about anyone he’s had the chance to bounce ideas off, they’ll probably describe him in one of the following ways. He’s a forward-thinker. Gears are constantly turning in his head. His thought process is inspiring and pushes the envelope. He’s always progressing. 

Yes, those all seem to be accurate ways to describe the mesmerizing way Terry’s mind works. He doesn’t stop at good enough — he pushes to always be better and never reach a standstill, which is why TLK Dairy’s motto, ‘A go-forward outfit,’ is so fitting. 

“We try to be out there way in front – both on the farm and on the dairy. I don’t think I can stop trying to be better,” says Terry as he reflects on his farm and the motto of TLK Dairy. As he talks about his many inventions, I can tell he is fueled by innovation and thrives on thinking of solutions — from a rebuilt city snow blower that picks up manure every day to his newest invention of a modified garbage truck that cleans up leftover feed from the feed lanes. 

Considering the aforementioned praise for the way his brain is able to make connections that lead to innovative solutions, Terry might seem a little too perfect. But don’t be fooled, as he’ll admit with no hesitation that he’s made plenty of mistakes over the years as he’s worked on inventions and new plans for the farm. The key? Keep trying and make mistakes. Above all else, learn from your mistakes. 

“We don’t dwell on things that happened, and we have a plan-ahead mentality that pushes us to not repeat mistakes. We look at our mistakes, learn from them and then we try to move forward in a different way,” says Terry’s son and the next CEO in training, Tony Ketterling. 

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"We try to be out there way in front – both on the farm and on the dairy. I don’t think I can stop trying to be better." -Terry Ketterling

Tony’s admiration for his father’s way of thinking and success as a farmer is clear in the way he talks about TLK Dairy and his goals for the farm. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can while I can. I’m paying attention to the way he does things and the way he thinks, so that when I need to make a big decision, I can make an intelligent one,” says Tony as he reflects on his father’s work on the dairy.

With more than 10,000 cows and 9,000 acres to manage, Terry, Tony and everyone else at TLK are focused on thinking of solutions that will help ensure the future of the dairy. “We want to keep making progress to ensure TLK is here 30, 40 and 50 years down the road,” says Tony. 

Here are a few details about two big projects the Ketterlings have recently added to their farm to progress and become more efficient. 


“After years of watching feed blow away, I was ready to do something about it,” says Terry about the new commodity barn at TLK Dairy. After visiting several other farms with enclosed feed storage facilities over the course of about five years, Terry decided to truly go for it when building the Pantry on his farm.

Driving by this large, enclosed building on the road, I could tell it is big; however, as I rode the big, yellow school bus being used for tours on the farm over the bridge overlooking the entire facility, I am in utter amazement at its monumental capacity. 

This expansive tin building, which stretches larger than a football field, is a hub of movement — from semi-trucks dumping feed through the wired grid of the bridge overhead to loaders bustling from commodity to commodity to create the perfect ration of feed.

Just from watching the semis and tractors come and go from the Pantry, you could say all spectators are impressed — myself included. But, as I talked to Terry about more details behind this large project, I am enthralled by the many aspects he had enough foresight to prepare for from the beginning. Every question I asked about logistics and longevity are given a thought-out answer and plenty of reasoning for doing things a certain way. 

From adding extra fans to keep dust to a minimum, to building a lean-to along the back to catch and reuse collected feed dust to having backpack blowers to keep it clean — the Pantry is a true work of art. 

While the Ketterlings will need a year or two of full operation to see the savings it’s providing, Terry and Tony alike believe this investment was smart and effective for their farm. 

The Nursery

One of the other large projects the Ketterlings completed over the past year is a new set of calf-raising facilities that bring calf comfort and care to the next level. Five long buildings sit side by side to house a total of 1,500 little babies nestled in fresh, golden straw. 

The planning stage leading up to the build of these facilities took a lot of hands-on research. “We planned for about eight months and visited other farms in Idaho and Iowa to see what they were doing, which helped us decide what type of facility would work best for us here at TLK,” said Tony as he thinks back to the beginning stages of this now-finished project. 

The calves are in group pens where they can socialize with their friends of similar age and size. With the large space they have, it’s not uncommon see sprightly little, speckled legs and hooves stretched high in the air as they play and enjoy their luxurious lifestyle. 

A thermometer and automated system optimizes temperatures and air flow 24/7, which keeps the calves happy and healthy. The billowing, plastic curtains on either side of each building are controlled by a thermostat that raises and lowers them to let air flow or to keep heat in — depending on the Idaho-countryside weather. The fans throughout the building are also on the same systems to keep the building ventilated and help cool the calves on warm days. 

For the Love of Lasagna


You’ve chopped, diced, measured, stirred, sautéed and layered your way to a truly delectable work of art. And, with a generous handful (or several overflowing ones), you top it off in the ultimate Italian fashion, with an array of your favorite cheeses — from Parmesan and Italian blends to mozzarella and colby jack shreds. 

From the garlicky, rich and indulgent aroma already wafting around your kitchen, your stomach will be beckoning for a marinara-painted lasagna to emerge from the 350-degree heat. As you wait for that trusty timer to chime, you can’t help but crack the oven door for a peek at the bubbling sauce and golden cheese. The extra time you spent putting together this hearty
and oh-so-delicious recipe is about to pay off with a steaming plate of goodness.

Behind the marrying of these mouthwatering ingredients are the hands of some incredible moms that we’ve grilled for their show-stopping recipes sure to please even the pickiest of crowds: their kids. 

These recipes are one for the books — cookbooks that is — and we can’t wait to tell you more about the wonderful women who have crafted and plated these dishes on more than one occasion. With all three of these moms being avid connoisseurs of dairy cows and their products, it’s no wonder their go-to recipes are infused with nearly every ingredient in the dairy case.



Tustin, Mich.
Classic Lasagna recipe

Mother of three kids and 200 cows

After a few rings, Jenny picked up and I could hear her smile break through the barrier of the phone as she said “hello.” Immediately thereafter, sounds of kids laughing, fans swirling, cows bellowing and the general buzz of passersby came through the speaker in a lively hum. The reason for this jumbled noise? The county fair, of course! 

On a normal day, Jenny would be at home entertaining and caring for her group of about 12 to 13 daycare kids. Meanwhile, her husband, BJ, would be outside donning his chore boots as he cared for their dairy cows. So, watching her three children and helping care for animals during this big day at the fair wasn’t a far stretch from Jenny’s everyday regimen. 

When I first reached out to Jenny, there was no hesitation. The first words to fill the air were “oh gosh, we make lasagna all the time,” and she went on to tell me the tale of her classic lasagna recipe and how she makes it for her kids, who are all equipped with picky palettes. 

Originally bookmarked in a church cookbook, as seems to be the case for a lot of small-town favorites, Jenny was passed the recipe for her signature dish from her friend, Tanya. But, she didn’t stop there. Jenny did some ingredient swapping, editing and good old-fashioned taste testing to create her own take on the recipe.  

A conversation about her lasagna was wide ranging — sausage instead of beef can really hit home in the flavor arena. Her kids’ mouths water just at the mention of their favorite dish. But when it comes to ricotta versus cottage cheese, Jenny had strong opinions.

To Jenny, the crown jewel of dairy products is none other than cottage cheese, known for its taste and versatility. Not only is this ingredient a staple for creating a creamy and rich layer between her lasagna noodles, it is also in popular demand by her daycare kids, who are always eager for a morning snack consisting of a considerably sized scoop of this scrumptious curded product and a side of juicy, fresh-cut fruit.

As a further testament to Jenny’s kitchen creations, her daycare kids have told her, “Miss Jenny, you need to put a cookbook together with all your yummy recipes” — the ultimate tribute to this daycare provider and mom.



Mount Vernon, Texas
Lasagna Roll-Ups recipe 

Mother of three kids and 300 cows

With her mom in active duty military, Amber told me all about hopping and skipping across state lines, and even treading the waters overseas. Moving somewhere new every three years amounted to a lot of pins being added to the map, including her favorite place, Okinawa, Japan, which is a tropical island that left her surrounded by white sandy beaches and the crystal-blue sea that spilled into the North Pacific Ocean. This constant shuffle was met with the promise of returning to Texas, her family’s permanent residence, one day. 

As they traveled from place to place, Amber picked up her cooking craft from her mother as they prepared dishes passed down through her family for generations — something I could tell she is proud of.

“I guess old habits die hard, and you just follow what your mom taught you,” says Amber as she dishes about not one, but two lasagna recipes she keeps in her arsenal of well-received meals.

Growing up traveling as a self-proclaimed military brat, Amber never thought she would end up in a small town as a farmer’s wife. That is, until she met her husband, Jouwert, after college. Jouwert’s parents moved to the United States from the Netherlands in the 1980s. 

Now, she embraces her life as a dairy farmer — especially when it comes to using a hodgepodge of dairy goodness to take her recipes to the next level. She even adds a little flavor to her lasagnas to wow her husband’s taste buds. 

While she grew up using peppers and hot sauce in everything, her husband doesn’t share her spicy-loving palette. “My husband’s family is Dutch, and they aren’t big on spices — the cuisine over there is pretty mild.” So, in an effort to convert him, says Amber jokingly, she’s nudging him in the right direction using red pepper flakes to turn up the heat in their favorite dishes.



Bedford, Texas
Cowboy Lasagna recipe

Mother of one and teacher of many

After only a brief chat with Miranda, I could tell she had a knack for cooking. As she casually listed off a handful of kitchen tips to boost her pasta recipes, including carefully layering butter within dishes to add even more creaminess to her already rich recipes, and pulling in a variety of ingredients to reach the ultimate texture, I could hear her excitement for cooking.

It came as no surprise considering Miranda has a food-focused blog where she shares her favorite medleys of flavor and two cents worth for creating the ultimate crowd-pleasing meals. Between getting married, having a baby and being a coach and teacher at the local junior high, sharing her recipes through the web has taken a spot on the back burner for a few years. 

Although she’s busy coaching three sports and keeping up with all of life’s hectic demands, Miranda divulged one of her most treasured recipes, Cowboy Lasagna. Like many young moms, she stumbled upon the foundation for her recipe on Pinterest, but transformed it into a rich, creamy and extremely hearty dish her family is obsessed with.

Infused with generous amounts of cream cheese, sour cream, ricotta cheese, butter and cheddar, Miranda’s recipe is all inclusive. If it’s dairy, she’ll find a place for it in her lasagna. 

Just as her lasagna is jam-packed with dairy, so is her life. Dairy has always been a family affair for Miranda as she grew up riding in the tractor, helping unload feed and caring for the wobbling, yet sprightly, baby calves. Her dairy background and passion for the industry could easily fill a novel with narratives of her childhood that has continued with her as she raises her own family.