Category Archives: Organic Valley

Now that is what I Call a Winter Storm on the Farm

Yesterday and last night we had a major winter storm. The day started out with light snow. Then it moved to rain. We had over one inch of rain before it turned back to snow/ice over the night.

This is what Jon and Lisa woke up to:

You can see the weight of the ice damaged some trees and a river is running through the back yard. Some of our calves got spooked last night and were out this morning. We are not sure what happened, but the sound of the breaking trees might have done it. Also, our dog, Boo, completely chewed through the wall in our mud room.

A kind of day like today calls for only one thing:


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Filed under #AgChat, farming, Organic Valley, Pictures

Happy Birthday Tim! & Homemade Brownie Recipe

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
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13×9 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and butter. Stir in cocoa, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Pour mixture in pan
  3. 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


Filed under Cooking, Cooking with Dairy, family, Food, Organic Valley

Organic Milk Shortage, Why is it Happening?

Where is all the organic milk? If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a nation wide organic milk shortage. The New York Times recently ran an article on the subject. Many of the stores I frequent have put up signs talking about the shortage.

Organic Milk Shortage Sign

One of our Twitter followers said this:

FoodFightersUS I’ve just been reading @ the organic milk shortage. Had not noticed much until today-I checked 2 DC Whole Foods & found zero organic cream?

This isn’t just an Organic Valley problem, or a regional problem, it is a complete shortage of organic milk from every brand nation wide.

So what is the deal? There is a shortage of feed. We don’t have to look far to know that this is the truth. On our farm we raise about 40% of our feed needs and buy another 60%. In our urban area there isn’t much land to go around. We would love to grow more, but it is a constant battle to rent enough ground.

Currently, conventional crop prices are record highs. This is due partly to demand (ethanol and overseas markets) and partly low supply (drought in the South). Growing organic crops is tough. It is more paperwork, more fees (organic certification costs) and a lot more work. I completely understand when crop farmers switch back from organic to conventional. Why would they want all the hassle when conventional corn is very profitable?

So when conventional crop prices are high, organic land gets switched back to conventional, lowering the organic crop supply and raising organic crop prices. Also, when crop prices are up, more land that would normally be put into hay is put into grain. Again, lowering organic hay supply and raising organic hay prices. Once land goes back to conventional it is at least three years until it can be organic again.

In farming we always talk about margins: what is our net, what will be left after we pay all the bills. Even though our pay price per hundred weight of milk (how milk is priced) is higher than conventional, our margins are lower. ie It takes more money to produce a gallon of organic milk.

So why don’t the organic milk company’s raise pay price? Good question. They are. Organic Valley farmers voted to raise pay prices this fall. But we walk a fine line. Higher pay prices for farmers usually equal high retail price. My mom said  Organic Valley milk is at $7.99/gallon at her local grocery store. How much higher are customers willing to pay? We are just recovering from one of the largest economic downturns. Also just under a year ago, there was an abundance of organic milk. There was so much milk, many regions were still on a quota (only could produce so much without a penalty).

On our farm, we are feeling the shortage of feed. Currently, we are selling cows. Thankfully, beef prices are high right now. That means we are culling (selling for beef) our low producing cows. The goal is to try to make the herd as efficient as possible on the feed we do have. Also, our steers are not being fed organic feed. We have never certified them as organic, but they usually eat the same organic feed as the cows. We cannot afford it now. Saving all the quality organic feed for our cows is a priority. We don’t want to loose our certification.

I think many organic farmers are doing exactly what we are doing. Heavy culling is taking place and the hunt for feed is wide spread. Jon and Tim have been searching for affordable feed since late summer, when we realized we would have a shortage.

So the moral of the story? Keep buying organic milk when you can. If consumers continue to signal that they are willing to pay the price, cooperatives will be able to raise farmer pay price, then more farmers will continue to milk organic cows, which will entice more grain farmers to grow organic grains and hopefully lower organic grain prices.

One our Facebook fans wrote this on our page:

I believe that part of consuming responsibly is understanding that you can’t always get what you want when you want it. Everything is cyclical – there are periods of abundance and periods of scarcity, and if we could get back to an acceptance of that, perhaps we could solve some other problems as well. Hope all is well on your beautiful farm!

We thank everyone for their loyal support! It is you that make farmer owned cooperatives like Organic Valley continue to thrive. Hopefully this organic milk shortage will not last long and the milk, cream and cheese you are looking for at the store is always in supply.


Filed under #AgChat, Crops, farming, Hay, Organic Valley

Organic Valley Coupon, Calendar and Swag Give Away

Right before Christmas we received a large package from Organic Valley. In it were ten beautiful 2012  Organic Valley calendars. Much to our surprise, our family was chosen to adorn the April page and our cows are the background on each page. Organic Valley calendars are known for their beautiful pictures. We have even had friends who work for other dairy companies that say they wish their calendars were like OV’s.

click for source

This year Organic Valley is celebrating the International Year of Cooperatives. The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes,

“Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility. “

That is exactly what Organic Valley set out to do 25 years ago. Back then, the cooperatives founders wanted to make organic farming both economically viable for its members while at the same time improving the community and world around them. Now with over 1600 plus farmers owners in the United States and Canada, I think OV is doing a great job on both accounts. It is the number one reason we chose to go with Organic Valley when we first went organic. A company owned by farmers and for farmers is important to us.

Would you like a free Organic Valley 2012 calendar, coupons and swag? The prize is a $30 value ($15 in coupons). Tell us how you work or play cooperatively or support cooperatives in your area . Do you carpool to work? Have a community garden? Support local farmers working in cooperatives? Teach cooperation to your children or students?


  • Leave a comment on this page about how you work or play cooperatively or support cooperatives in your area. Comments should be no longer than 20 words in length.
  • Comments need to be received by 11:59p.m. central standard time on January 2nd.
  • Winners will be chosen on creativity and originality.
  • Winners will be chosen by our family.
  • Winners will be contacted by January 3rd, by emailing the account associated with the comment.
  • Disclaimer: Yes, we are OV farmer owners, so we have an interest in Organic Valley and its brand. Please void where prohibited.
Good luck and have a blessed New Year!


Filed under #AgChat, Organic Valley

Easy Vegetable and Pork Soup-Hunk of Meat Monday

I think I can say for certain that the 80 degree days of the beginning of the month will no longer be. We are officially done grazing. With the lack of rain (over 2 months) and cold temps, the cows are now eating the food we work hard all summer to put up. More on that in a later post.

Here is a another yummy soup recipe to keep you warm on these crisp autumn days. If you need pork, please contact the farm ASAP. Last I checked we only had about 6 slots left.

Vegetable and Pork Soup


  • 3 tablespoons Organic Valley butter
  • 1/4 of a large red onion minced
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 cups cooked pork roast
  • 3 cups chicken broth (see my super simple recipe)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender.
  2. Add celery and carrots and cook about 10 minutes until slightly tender
  3. Add potatoes, pork and chicken broth. Bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes (or until potatoes are tender)
  4. Add milk and oregano and bring slowly to boil. Don’t boil milk too fast or it will curdle.
  5. Mix water and corn starch and add to soup. Stir for a few minutes until the soup thickens slightly.
  6. Taste and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Vegetable and Pork Soup

This recipe was super easy and I let the boys do all the dumping of ingredients into the pot and all the stirring. I served the soup with homemade wheat bread and a tall glass of Organic Valley milk.

See more Hunk of Meat Monday recipes at:

Hunk of Meat Mondays



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Filed under 30 Minute Meals, Cooking, Cooking with Pork, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday, Organic Valley

Easy Ground Beef Chili-Hunk Of Meat Monday

Disclaimer: I am not a food blogger. Even though I post lots of recipes on this site, Food Blogger is not in my title. I am apologizing in advance for my lack of pictures on this recipe. When I start cooking I often get caught up in what I am doing and forget to take pictures.

I have gotten to the comfort level in my cooking that I no longer “follow” recipes. Sure I still look them up for ideas, but that is usually as far as it goes. This past week I made a super easy ground beef chili. I could have called it Kitchen sink chili, because nearly everything went in it besides the kitchen sink.

East Ground Beef Chili:

  • 2 lbs Zweber Farms ground beef
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 10 ripe plum tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups dry red kidney or black beans soaked
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown ground beef and onion together. Drain only if there is a lot of juice.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to boil and let simmer for at least an hour. When beans are soft the chili is done.
  3. Taste and add salt and pepper.
  4. Top with Organic Valley sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
This easy ground beef chili will serve a crowd. I froze half of it in an ice cream pail for later use.
See what others are posting today for Hunk of Meat Monday
Hunk of Meat Mondays

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Filed under Cooking, Cooking with Beef, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday, Organic Valley

Spaghetti Squash and Pork Sausage Bake-Hunk of Meat Monday

It is squash time! This year both at Zweber Farms and my parents’ farm, we grew several types of  squashes. The most interesting squash to me is the Spaghetti Squash. I love squash of all kinds and thought it intriguing that the flesh when baked looks like noodles. After, doing some quick searches for recipes on the internet, I formed a simple yet tasty recipe using the spaghetti squash and Zweber Farms ground pork.

  • 1- 4lb spaghetti squash
  • 1lb Zweber Farms ground pork (Italian style)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 tomatoes pureed or 1 jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms chopped
  • 1 sweet pepper chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Organic Valley cheese


Preheat oven to 375. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and pulp. Bake rind side up for 25-35 minutes.

squash3 pork

While squash is baking, chop onion, pepper and mushrooms. Brown pork sausage in skillet then add onion, pepper, mushrooms and 1/3 cup of tomato puree or spaghetti sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes


When squash is done, take it out of the oven (leave oven on) and let it cool for 5 minutes. Then scrape out flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add sausage mixture and 1/2 cup cheese.


Place into baking dish and top with additional cheese. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes.


Take out of oven and let rest for 10 minutes

Serve with crunchy garlic bread topped with Organic Valley butter and a tall glass of Organic Valley milk.

Hunk of Meat Mondays

I hope you enjoy.  Need some pork sausage? Call us today to order a half or quarter of a hog.  Pork will be ready in October and November. We have a few spaces left, but they will not last long. Call: 952-461-3428 or visit the Zweber Farms website for details.


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Filed under Cooking, Cooking with Pork, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday, Organic Valley

Back to School with Dairy

Has it really been since Friday that I last posted? Opps, time has been getting away from me lately. Erik started his second year of preschool on Tuesday. What a big day! Well, it was more nerve racking for me than him. This year he is going all day two days a week. *Sniff* He looked so cute with his backpack and lunch box.

first day of school, erik, fall 2011To make his first day great, I wanted to make a him a great and healthy lunch. I packed him a sandwich made with roasted Zweber Farms chicken, Organic Valley cheddar cheese and whole wheat bread. He also got a clementine, homemade oatmeal raisin cookie and an Organic Valley single serve milk.

Including dairy in my son’s lunch was very important. Did you know that milk provides you with nine essential nutrients? The USDA defines an ‘essential nutrient’ as a dietary substance required for healthy body functioning. Essential nutrients must come from the diet because the human body can’t manufacture them in sufficient quantities to meet daily needs. And it’s more than calcium and vitamin D. From helping repair muscle tissue to maintaining healthy red blood cells, the nine nutrients in milk work together to help keep the body in optimal health.*

Milk’s 9 Essential Nutrients*
Calcium Dairy is probably best known for its calcium, which helps to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth.
Potassium Potassium helps regulate the body’s fluid balance and helps maintain normal blood pressure. It’s also needed for muscle activity and contraction.
Phosphorus Feeling sluggish? Phosphorus helps strengthen bones and generate energy in the body’s cells.
Protein Protein doesn’t just come from meats. The protein in milk and cheese builds and repairs muscle tissue and serves as a source of energy.
Vitamin D Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is one of the nutrients Americans lack the most. It helps promote the absorption of calcium and enhances bone strength.
Vitamin A Vitamin A helps maintain normal vision and skin. It is also important for bone growth.
Vitamin B12 Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy red blood cells and nerve cells.
Riboflavin Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin helps convert food into energy the body can use. It’s also important for normal eyesight and healthy skin.
Niacin (or niacin equivalents) Niacin helps bodies digest sugars and fatty acids.

*Source: Midwest Dairy

Tomorrow night ( Thursday, September 8), Moms who love dairy can chat with two registered dietitians, Stephanie Cundith and Char Heer on Twitter. The party starts at 7pm central. The party is being hosted by @Resourcefulmom. Make sure to follow Steph (@scundithRD) and Char (@cheerRD) and use the hashtag #dairymom. By participating you can be entered to win fabulous prizes such as a hand blender, lunch bags, school supplies and more! One winner will have their recipe featured on the Midwest Dairy website.

I hope you can join the conversation. You can follow me on Twitter at @ezweber.

I just packed Erik’s lunch for Thursday. His lunch includes: PB&J (homemade strawberry jam from Grandma), whole wheat bread, grapes, oatmeal cookie,  Organic Valley Stringles and milk.

As a mom, I am trying to instill lifelong healthy eating habits in my children. I will do this one meal and one school lunch at a time. Since, I am new to the school lunch gig, does anyone have good ideas to make lunches fun and healthy? Please leave a comment. I would love to hear from those with more experience.


Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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Filed under #AgChat, Cooking, Cooking with Dairy, family, health, Midwest Dairy, Organic Valley, Parenting

Hunk of Meat Monday-Hamburger and Rice Hotdish

I have to admit: I’m not a hamburger hotdish fan at all. In fact when Tim and I were first dating and he mentioned his two most favorite dishes where tater tot hotdish and his mom’s hamburger and rice hotdish, I almost called it quits. Just kidding (kind of). I’m still not a fan of tater tot hotdish. I guess that is the Italian in me.

The other day I found myself with an empty pantry and no time to run to the store. The two things I did have were hamburger and rice. Ohh misery. I had to break down and make hamburger and rice hotdish. So I searched online until I found a recipe that had ingredients that I actually had in the house. This is what I found on

Hamburger and Rice Hotdish

  • 2 lb. hamburger, browned
  • 1 can mushroom soup
  • 1 can Minute rice
  • 1/2 can 2% milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) pkg. Cheddar or American shredded cheese
Brown your hamburger and drain.
Of course I used Zweber Farms extra lean ground beef.
Top your hamburger with half the cheese.
I used Organic Valley shredded cheddar.
Mix your rice, milk and soup.
I made brown rice and used in place of the Minute.
Spread mixture on top of hamburger and cheese
Top with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes
I served the dish with steamed green beans and Organic Valley milk.
Honestly, this was really good and I will probably make it again. Tim of course thought it was excellent. The boys had a mixed verdict. The two year old cleaned his plate and the four year old wouldn’t touch it. Then again, the four year old is going through a “picky” stage.
I am linking up with other Hunk of Meat bloggers at Beyer Beware. Make sure to visit and see what others are making this week.
Hunk of Meat Mondays
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.


Filed under #AgChat, 30 Minute Meals, Cooking, Cooking with Beef, Cooking with Dairy, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday, Organic Valley

Win Tickets to Kickapoo Country Fair!

Food. Good, clean, healthy food is what the Kickapoo Country Fair is all about. Back in 2004, Organic Valley CIEIO George Siemon visioned a gathering where we can give thanks to our regional partners and supporters, our community, our farmer-owners, and, finally, our loyal citizen-partners who share the vision of an organic today and tomorrow, together.

The Kickapoo Country Fair (KCF) was born. KCF is a place to enjoy good food, meet nationally known chefs, have fun with your family, tour organic farms, meet farmers, listen to good music and just enjoy all the bounty our land gives us. Check out the full July 30th schedule here Located at Organic Valley HQ, this event draws people from all over the nation.

Kickapoo Country Fair 2009

This year the headliners for the event will be:

Will Allen

Will AllenHow does the son of a sharecropper become one of “Time” magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2010? He grows into it, via careers in pro hoops and corporate sales. He’s a farmer now, and is recognized as one of the most innovative thinkers of our time in the world of agriculture and food policy. Today he is the founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Andrew Zimmern

Andrew ZimmernAndrew Zimmern is a James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer, teacher and is regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the co-creator, host and consulting producer of Travel Channel’s hit series, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern andAndrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World, he travels the globe, exploring food in its own terroir. Zimmern is a contributing editor and award-winning monthly columnist at Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine and a senior editor at Delta Sky Magazine. As a freelance journalist, his work has appeared in numerous national and international publications includingFood and Wine and Saveur.

Kentucky Headhunters

Kentucky HeadhuntersIn 1968, Richard and Fred Young and their cousins, Anthony Kenney and Greg Martin, loaded a pickup-truck with amps, drums, and guitars and set out to conquer the world by creating their own brand of rock and roll. All these years and changes in the band’s composition, not to mention many, many recordings later, they are a band of many styles—rock, blues, country, jazz, bluegrass, rockabilly, and other roots music.

KCF always proves to be a great time. Want to head out to KCF? I am giving away four free tickets to the fair (a $20 value). All you need to do is check out the Kickapoo Country Fair website, then come back here and tell me what you are most excited to see/participate in at the fair and why. Winners will be selected randomly on July 24th. To keep up to date on KCF events visit their Facebook page and give them a “Like.”

Don’t live in the Driftless area of WI? No worries, there is plenty of lodging options and other great family activities to keep you busy all weekend.


Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.


Filed under Organic Valley