The Prairie Home Companion does an annual joke show and they often feature this song about chickens. It makes me laugh so hard I cry. I picture our hens fleeing our milk truck or large tractors as they are crossing our driveway. Wonder if we should have chicken crossing guards…
Sound of Chickens
Our first calf of 2012 needs a name. She was born Feb 3.
What should we name her?
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Ham on Christmas has always been a tradition of ours. Everyone comes back to the farm for Christmas. And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Aunts, uncles, cousins, children of cousins all come; about 50 plus people gather to celebrate. Hams are a fuss free and delicious way to feed a large (or smaller) group. If you ordered a smoked ham from Zweber Farms, it is already cooked and you could eat it cold. If you would like to reheat it before you serve, visit the USDA website for details. USDA Ham and Food Safety
Here is a great video from eHowfood. The video shows how to prep the a ham for cooking, shows a simple glaze recipe and how to carve a ham.
Our family wishes you and your family a Merry Christmas.
The boys goofing around in front of tree
Yesterday, I posted a picture of flipped calf hutches. I asked you, my faithful readers, to guess why we would do such a silly thing.
Patrick was the winning answer: Sunlight sanitation. Way to go Patrick! You can get your congratulatory pat on the back the next time you come to pick up our milk. Note: Patrick is our milk truck driver.
As I have mentioned countless times, the number one way to organically treat a sick animal is to not have the animal get sick in the first place. Prevention is key. Sunlight is an important way to keep our calves’ homes nice and sanitary. Also, flipping the hutches looks pretty cool and everyone asks about it.
When our calves are born, we want to give them the best opportunity for a healthy life. Making sure their first home away from home mom is clean is very important. In addition to flipping the hutches, we also try to move the hutches to a new spot and always give them fresh clean straw. If you would fly over our farm in the summer, it would look like our calf pasture had poka-dots.
Erik and Calf
In the winter it is much harder to move the hutches (because they are buried in snow), so we try to give each hutch a rest period between calves. If organisms do not have a host (warm calf), they don’t survive. That is one benefit to Minnesota’s extreme cold. I am hard pressed to think of others.
Calf warm in her hutch (last winter)
Just looking at that picture makes me cold, brrr. I might need to go get some Organic Valley eggnog to warm me up. Here is to hoping we have a few more sunny days until the snow flies!
Strong winds or did we do this on purpose? Leave a comment with your guess.
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.
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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.
Photo by David Nevala
I had to post one last pasture picture of the season. Tim is bringing our cows in for their evening milking.