Tag Archives: dairy

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

Brave cat or not so smart?

You be the judge

image

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Creamy Chicken and Tomato Soup Recipe

Oye, has it really been 10 days since I last blogged? Terrible! I am even participating in a “31 Days to a Better Blog” series.  Not a star student… Good news is that I have a super simple and tasty recipe that you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less. Like most of my recipes, this one takes ideas from about 3-4 other recipes. I played with it a bit and I hope I remember all the ingredients I added.

Cream Chicken and Tomato Soup Recipe

  • 3 cups cooked Roasted Zweber Farms Chicken, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Organic Valley butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Organic Valley heavy cream or whole milk
  • cilantro and Organic Valley sour cream for garnish

Melt butter in large dutch oven and sauté the onion and chicken for 5 minutes, until onion is tender.

Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Swirl in the cream.

Serve with a spoon full of sour cream and chopped cilantro.

This was super simple. While the soup was simmering, I whipped up a batch of miniature corn bread muffins. The muffins only took 15 minutes to bake, so everything was done at the same time. Creamy chicken and tomato soup and corn bread in less than 30 minutes. Got to love that.

Hop on over to Hunk of Meat Monday to see what others have on their plates this week.

Hunk of Meat Mondays
Enjoy! Make sure to “Pin” this on Pinterest to share with your friends.

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Filed under 30 Minute Meals, Cooking, Cooking with Chicken, Cooking with Dairy, Food, Hunk of Meat Monday

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.

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

Flipped Calf Hutches: Wordless Wednesday

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Strong winds or did we do this on purpose? Leave a comment with your guess.

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Filed under #AgChat, Calves and Heifers, Wordless Wednesday

I’m Like a Low Component Cow

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!

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Filed under Calves and Heifers, dairy, family, Livestock, Raising Animals

Until the Cows Come Home-Wordless Wednesday

 

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.

Emily

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Filed under #AgChat, dairy, Livestock, Raising Animals, Wordless Wednesday

Miley’s Story-Part Three The Happy Ending

If you have been following along, you know that recently we had to treat one of our good milk cows, Miley, with antibiotics. You can read about Miley’s story here and here. We are happy to say that Miley’s story has a happy ending. This past weekend, Samantha’s boyfriend Nick purchased Miley. Miley will go live on his family farm just west of the Twin Cities.

Miley with Nick and Samantha

Miley is once again her old self. She was even dodging Sam and Nick when they tried to get her halter on. In the picture above she is trying to knock Nick over. This is something she would not have done when she was sick. We are sad to have her leave, but it is a must on our organic farm. Thankfully, she is going to a good home, where we know she will be treated well.

Emily

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Filed under #AgChat, dairy, organics, Raising Animals

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
Emily

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

Love for Leontien

Tim and I are very active in social media and we often joke about our imaginary friends. Those are are the people who we have an online relationship with, but have never actually met in real life. Many of those “imaginary” people have touched our lives in real ways.

Today, we are sending our love to one of our online friends Leontien of Four Leaf Clover Dairy. You can read Leontien’s blog here. Leontien is battling her second round of cancer. Cancer sucks!!

A Facebook page Love for Leontien has been created. We ask that you send extra prayers and thoughts Leontien’s way.

Emily

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