Yesterday, we had our first 60 degree weather since last fall. Tim was itching to go check the culverts and see how the pastures were fairing. We took the hike as a family just before sunset. I wish I would have had my camera. Instead I took a few pictures from my phone.
It was warm enough to be without a coat, except for Hannah
Erik was making bridges out of the branches that fell with last week’s storm
Our trip started in the yard. We followed the “river” and see where is went.
No trip is complete without a really big stick
“Don’t fall in Jonnie!”
A full moon was rising behind us as we walked
Made it to the top of the hill (stick and all)
The heifers greeted us as we made our way back.
Milking was just finishing as we walked into the yard.
Hannah got all tuckered out from the fresh air.
Today is Tim’s 29th birthday. To celebrate he will be spending it on the farm (not much different from any other day). The biggest difference is that we will be celebrating with large homemade brownies! Tim loves brownies. In fact, instead of wedding cake at our reception, he got his own brownie.
Fudgy Brownies: by Kathy Kirkland (You Deserve Dessert)
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, melted (I used Organic Valley)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs (I used Zweber Farms)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13×9 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and butter. Stir in cocoa, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Pour mixture in pan
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Serve with a big glass of cold and creamy Organic Valley milk.
Happy Birthday Tim!
Tim (age 5) with Uncle Roy at Zweber Farms
Jon and Tim Zweber
Remember this post “My Husband Doesn’t Wear His Wedding Ring”? In the post I mention that Tim lost his first (and very expensive) wedding ring while working with calves. I am sure the ring is now in one of our fields waiting to be eaten by a cow.
There is hope that we might find it though. Today there is an article on Mail Online titled Wedding ring eaten by calf three years ago is re-discovered… inside cow’s stomach at butcher’s shop.
The farmer lost his ring while feeding calves. A calf sucked it off his hand. When it was time to butcher the fully grown animal the farmer asked the butcher to look for the ring. Low and behold, it was there!!
Cattle swallowing metal objects is actually a bad thing. There is even a name for it Hardware Disease. This is when a metal object is swallowed and it is pushed through the rumen to the reticulum. The reticulum is one of the compartments in the bovine stomach, and its function is not well understood. However, the contractions of the reticulum force the object into the peritoneal cavity where it initiates inflammation.
To help prevent an infection, cows are sometimes fed magnets to prevent the metal objects from piercing the stomach walls.
So here is to hoping we find Tim’s wedding ring…someday.
Filed under #AgChat, family
My mother has a tradition of buying a new Christmas story book each year. Several years ago, she bought a book titled “Farm Country Christmas Eve.” I loved the story instantly, not knowing that book would lead to me to meet some amazing people.
Set in the 1950’s, the story is about a dairy farm family celebrating Christmas Eve. The family must go to the barn to do chores and milk the cows, so that Santa has a chance to visit their house. The children are quick to do their chores and are greeted with simple, but meaningful presents when they are done.
I smile at all the ways Santa finds his ways to farm families. We are still trying to figure out how Santa is going to visit us this year. Will he visit our house? Or the farm (since Daddy will be doing chores and we open presents there)?
Two years ago, I learned that the author of this book, Gordon Fredrickson, was going to be doing readings at our county fair. Tim and I decided to take the boys to go meet the author. We instantly connected with Gordon and his wife Nancy. We learned that they do not live too far from us and they went to high school with some of Jon’s sisters.
I now consider the Fredrickson’s friends. They even have taken pictures of our pigs to use in one of their latest books. Gordon’s “If I were a Farmer” series books are actuate, educational and fun books about modern agriculture.
Farm book lovers both young and not so young with enjoy Gordon Fredrickson’s books. He even signs all the books he sells and has free shipping. Do you live in Minnesota? Invite Gordon to your school, church group, library, etc for a reading. His presentations are perfect for children. Visit his website for more information.
Disclaimer: I was not paid or compensated for writing this blog. I just love these books.
Filed under #AgChat, family
Each year as traditions goes,
they get in their cars at the first sign of snow,
and head to the farm at the edge of town,
to cut the family Christmas tree down.
Those are the opening lines to one of my favorite Christmas stories, “A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree”, by Colleen Monroe. The tale is about a Christmas tree that is never chosen and now he is too big to be cut for someones house. The woodland creatures who depend on him for shelter and food decorate him one night while he is sleeping. When he awakes, he learns that being a friend is the most important thing.
It has always been a family tradition of ours to cut down our annual Christmas tree. It is a tradition that we are keeping with our children too. Last weekend, we headed over to one of our local Christmas tree farms, Log Cabin Pines. In Minnesota, we are lucky to have many tree farms. Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a great link to help you find your local Minnesota Tree Farm.
Last year we had about 20 inches of snow the first week of December.
This year we had about zero….
But that didn’t stop us from finding a great tree and having some fun.
I just love the smell of a real Christmas tree in the house and snuggling up on a chair near a lit tree is a joy of mine too. But there are many environmental stewardship reasons to go real: (According to National Christmas Tree Association)
- Real trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals.
- For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place.
- There are about 1 million acres in production for growing Christmas trees. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people.
- Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most artificial trees are manufactured in Korea, Taiwan, or Hong Kong.
If you don’t want to go through all the work f cutting down a tree, there are many great tree lots to choose from too. Our favorite lot is operated by the Knights of Columbus from St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Elko and supports our local Catholic school, Holy Cross.
What are some family traditions your family keeps each holiday season? Please share; we would love to hear from you!
We have about four inches of snow on the ground now. The kids were super excited to go sledding. I couldn’t keep them still to take a decent picture.
I also got a picture of our last calf until February!! She is nice and warm in her calf jacket.
EEECK I just agreed to host Christmas Eve celebrations at my house. What was I thinking? Well, it actually makes sense. Being dairy farmers whose cows do not take the holiday off, it is just easier if the party comes to us. Instead of: chores, milking, drive, party, drive, chores, milking…which often results in crabby kids, crabby parents and annoyed cows (since we are often late). There will be more Falalala in our holiday.
With Thanksgiving about a week away, it is a good time to start making those holiday cooking plans. I never need an excuse to bake, but my baking goes in high gear this time of year. Thankfully, Organic Valley has a great website full of delicious, healthy and organic recipes. Organic Valley’s Holiday Food Guide
click for source
I have heard great things about Organic Valley’s eggnog. Since I am FINALLY not pregnant this year, I think I will indulge a bit.
Check out this fabulous recipe: Spice Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
Flavors of eggnog, gingerbread and spices cheer on the season in this delicious cheesecake.
1. Crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine ground gingersnaps and melted butter. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom and partially up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes. Set crust aside to cool (but leave the oven on).
2. Filling: Use electric beaters at medium speed to cream cheese for 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually beat in sugar and flour and continue beating 3 minutes, scraping sides occasionally. Grate 1/2 of a whole nutmeg over surface of batter, add cloves and blend the spices into the mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in egg nog, spiced rum and vanilla.
3. To bake: Gently pour filling into crust. Bake until cheesecake is lightly browned and instant thermometer inserted in center reads 160 degrees, 60 to 70 minutes. Turn off oven, open the door halfway and leave cheesecake inside until the oven has cooled off, 20-30 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to a cooling rack and run a thin-bladed knife around and inside its outer edges. (This will help prevent a crack from forming on the surface.) Cool cheesecake to room temperature. Sprinkle reserved gingersnaps over the cake. Chill cheesecake thoroughly before serving.
Copyright by Terese Allen
Leave a comment with your favorite recipe for the holiday season. I am always looking to try something new.
About three weeks ago I attended a leadership summit with fellow Organic Valley farmers. On the opening session of the summit, the key-note speaker spoke of community. Farmers need community. We learn from community, we get support from community and we grow with the community.
On Monday, Lisa and I took the kids out trick or treating. We visited all the neighbors around the farm. Neighbor is relative because we drove about two miles around the farm. It was so much fun. For many of these people, we were the only visitors of the night. Not only did the kids get a bunch of treats, Lisa and I got to visit with people we consider our community.
Dressed up for Halloween
I remember doing this same thing when I was growing up. My dad would pile us kids into the truck and down the road we would go, stopping to chat at each “neighbors'” house. At the time, I recall being impatient and wanting to quickly get to the next stop to get more candy. Now, I realize the values my dad was teaching us.
On Monday, after we visited the farm neighbors, the kids and I came back to the neighborhood where we live. The trick or treating scene was much different. Here kids ran door to door gathering as much candy as they could, without much of a hello or thank you. It was not about community.
Being a part of a community is important to us and we want to raise our kids to share in these values.
Who do you consider your community? Neighbors? Friends? People of similar interests? Please share with us.
Today, Hannah had her 4 month child wellness appointment. It turns out that I am like a cow with low components.
Components like fat and protein are measured in our cows’ milk. Farmers received a premium for higher milk components. Components are important because they are what makes your whip cream creamier and your cheese cheesier. They are also what makes babies grow.
Hannah hasn’t gained much weight and still only weights about 10 lbs. This same thing happened with Jonnie, but I felt like I was making more milk this time. Jonnie cried all the time and was extremely fussy. Hannah is not like that at all. She smiles, coos and laughs a lot.
So how does one make milk have more components? Most of it is genetics. We breed our cows to have higher components. We choose bulls for our cows that have a history of having daughters with high components. Some of it depends on diet. Learn more here.
To help Hannah, we need to increase her caloric intake. This can be done several ways. One way is to increase the amount of calories in my milk. I asked if this gave me a free pass on the Halloween candy. The doctor said no, but I could eat a fatty steak more often and try to eat more nuts and naturally fatty foods. Just like in cattle, I will need to not just eat more fat, but more energy. Calories are a measure of energy. We get energy from a variety of sources (carbohydrates and fats). In cattle we try to balance high quality forages, grains, fats, fiber and protein sources to keep our cows healthy and increase components in milk.
The other two ways to help are to give Hannah more to eat more often or we can start with solid foods.
We started with some solid foods tonight and I am also going to give her an extra bottle of some of my stored milk for a while. We will be working closely with our pediatrician and my lactation consultant for the next couple months.
This is kind of what happens when we have nutritional problems on our farm. We consult our veterinarians and animal nutritionists. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to keep our animals healthy.
Hannah has another appointment next week to see if anything we are doing is helping. Fingers crossed!
When Tim and I first had kids I thought traveling with them would be such a hassle. I was completely wrong. While our traveling experiences are no longer the same as pre-children (get there as fast as possible and relax), they are just as wonderful. Now we enjoy the trip just as much as the destination.
Hannah being a beach bum on vacation this year
Traveling with kids takes a bit more planning than just packing the suitcase. Now, several weeks before our trip I scope out destinations to stop at every two hours or so. I use Google, the Traveling with Children’s blog, and of course the state’s travel website. We travel to Wisconsin quite a bit for both vacation and the World Dairy Expo. TravelWisconsin.com is very valuable (plus they have a great smart phone app). South Dakota Tourism also has a great trip planner that I have used. But I always get the best info when I directly email the travel bureaus. For FREE they send you maps, help you plan your trip and give you information about great local events you cannot find on the websites. We have visited city festivals, a Cattlemen’s Rodeo event, explored a waterfall, ate artisan pizza in an historic barn and met some memorable people too.
Eating pizza at Stone Barn-click for website
At the beginning of the month we traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for the World Dairy Expo. This was a last minute trip and getting a hotel room was next to impossible, but thanks to our friends in social media, we got to stay with the lovely Dairy Carrie. I also prepared for the day we were going to be at the Expo. Three kids under 5 is tough when Daddy wants to talk to agriculture salesmen. We kept the kids busy by having them find international visitors (they get to wear a red ribbon) and marking countries off on a map. We also visited the tractor lot more than once. We planned a full day for the kids, so that they would sleep the five hours back home that night.
BigFoot At World Dairy Expo-The Boys' Favorite Stop
Traveling with cattle is not that much different. Lots of preparation needs to take place before the trip. Today three of our springing cows and two heifers were sold to an organic farmer in Ohio. Ohio is at least a 12 hour trip from here without cows. For both short trips and long trips with cattle, safety and health of the cows is top priority. We make sure the cattle are in good health (they were checked by a vet today). The cattle are loaded calmly on the trailer and not over crowded. For long trips (like to Ohio) cattle must be fed and watered regularly. If the cattle are milking (which none of ours were) a portable milking unit is brought along too.
Click for Source
Cattle can even travel internationally (we have never done it). Here are some photos and a video of cattle being shipped from ND to Kazakhstan: Cows On A Plane photos & video.
Do you travel with children or cattle? Please share your tips and tricks to make the trip enjoyable for all.