Tag Archives: family farm

The Sound of Chickens-Monday Funnies!

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

 

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Brave cat or not so smart?

You be the judge

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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

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Cajun Bone in Pork Chop Recipe: 30 minute meal!

It is hard to find recipes that include bone in pork chops. Since the bone in takes much longer to cook, the pork industry has focused their recipe developmental on boneless chop. I love bone in chops because they provide a little more flavor. So when I find a simple way to prepare bone in chops, I jump at it. Here is one that is sooo simple that you have to laugh, but it is really delicious.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle seasoning on both sides of the chops. Place in baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the chops once. Make sure the chops reach an internal temp of 145. Let them rest 5 minutes and serve.

Easy as that! They come out juicy and perfect. Pair with green beans, brown rice and a large glass of Organic Valley milk.

Of course I forgot to take a picture, maybe next time. But this is what they would have looked like if I had

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Hunk of Meat Mondays

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Murphy’s Law on the Farm

Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

What reminded me of this old adage was my father, Jon, taking off the weekend to go to a Superbowl party with my uncles. You see whenever he leaves the farm for a weekend something or multiple somethings will invariably go wrong. It’s a running joke said with only a half smile and cautious glance around that as soon as Jon leaves the farm expect the unexpected.

Our cows are generally fairly well behaved. They seem to know when Jon has left the farm though and that is the time they choose to do their annual escape and visit the neighbors trick. Three years ago they decided to run laps around two of our neighbors’ houses in a figure-eight pattern at 2am for fun. It is a good thing we have wonderful neighbors who weren’t only forgiving but had a blast rounding up 100 cows in the dark with me. Two years ago they went for a romp through a drainage ditch to get to a neighbors sweetcorn patch. They had only begun to start detasseling the corn when I caught them in the act and rounded them back up to put back in. Unfortunately, the poorly maintained ditch crossing I was bringing them back across was not where I thought it was resulting in a waterlogged ATV and a very unhappy me. This last summer the cows decided that they wanted to visit town. Yes, that’s right, they went to town. They must have visited at least 10 neighbors’ yards during the wettest spring we’ve had in a long time. No one was happy with them after that prank. They seemed to be pretty happy with themselves though and spent the rest of the afternoon napping on a hill. It seems no matter what kind of fencing a person puts up cows will always find a way to go have a good time if they really want to.

Cows are not the only thing on our farm that follows Murphy’s Law. Our farm equipment is a far more common offender than the cows who, like I say, are generally a well behaved bunch. We don’t have the newest tractors and implements on our farm so some breakdowns are be expected, however, they seem to occur at the absolute worst times. I’m sure any of you who rely on some kind of equipment to get a job done from a combine to an inkjet printer are very familiar with this phenomenon. We log over 1000 hours per year in our skid loader. Needless to say it’s a very important piece of equipment and without it we really can’t do many of our chores. For some odd reason our skid loaders have a tendency to burst hydraulic lines during Christmas. I could understand it happening once and calling it coincidence. The odd part is that it has happened twice now with two different skid loaders. I’m not talking the little hoses for the hydraulic cylinders that move the bucket. No, those ones could be made at Carquest, it was a big one both times that supplies the drive motors to make the loader go. Those are special hoses and must be purchased from the Bobcat dealer which is tricky during the holidays.

My favorite example of Murphy’s Law as demonstrated by our equipment was the meltdown of our Case 970 tractor’s engine. I started it to let it warm up and came back 5 minutes later to find it wasn’t running anymore. Turns out it wasn’t running because the engine had seized up due to a lack of oil. I would like to say its my fault for not checking it often enough but it wasn’t, it was so much less likely than that. After the local technical college students took it apart I found out the cause of the engine failure was the oil pickup tube falling off the oil pump after 20+ years of apparently being firmly stuck there.

Nothing major has gone wrong (knock on wood) this weekend and Jon gets back tomorrow afternoon. Here’s hoping our luck has improved and it will stay that way. What great stories do you all have about Murphy’s Law?

Tim

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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.

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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?

Rules:

  • 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!
Emily


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Christmas Gift for Farm Book Lovers

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.

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Picking out a Christmas Tree-Support a Minnesota Farmer

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!

Emily

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Fun in the Snow – Wordless Wednessday

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.

Happy Wednesday!

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Cook Organic this Holiday Season-Family Friday

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

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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.

  • 23 cups ground gingersnap cookies (8 ounces)
  • 12 tablespoons Organic Valley Butter, melted
  • 24 ounces Organic Valley Cream Cheese, softened (three 8-ounce packages)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 12 whole nutmeg, freshly grated (or 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • 18 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • Organic Valley large eggs
  • 12 cups Organic Valley Eggnog
  • 14 cup spiced rum or brandy (or 2 teaspoons rum extract)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

Ohh YUM!!!

Leave a comment with your favorite recipe for the holiday season. I am always looking to try something new.

Emily

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