Tag Archives: milk

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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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

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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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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Almost Got Milk-Wordless Wednesday

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The Disney Princesses are Lovely, but Princess Kay is the REAL Deal!

Now that we have a girl in the house, I worry about how “girly” she will be. Not that being a girly girl is the bad thing. It is just that I never was and I don’t know if I will be able to relate. I never even had a Barbie. All ready Hannah’s closet is full of pink and purple. Tim gets really excited when she isn’t wearing pink (rare).

I know the Disney Princesses are a BIG deal for girls. I see them everywhere. In fact, just today we received a catalog in the mail for kids’ costumes. There were maybe three total pages for boy costumes (firefighter, pirate, etc), but for girls there were three pages just for Disney Princess outfits. CRAZY!

Image from Disney-Clipart.com

But what if there was a real live princess that girls could look up to? And I am not talking the dressed up ones at Disney World or the Duchess of Cambridge (who is lovely, but I will never meet).  I am talking a real live princess, crown and all, that little girls (and boys) could look up to and actually meet. Could there be such a thing?

Yes there is! Let me introduce you to Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Princess Kay

Photo By Midwest Dairy

 From the Princess Kay Facebook page:

The Princess Kay of the Milky Way ambassador program was founded in 1954. Each year, over 100 young women from across Minnesota are crowned county dairy princesses, and 12 are selected as finalists to become Princess Kay. Those finalists are each sculpted in butter during the fair.

Not only does Princess Kay of the Milky Way act as a goodwill ambassadors for the dairy industry and the state’s dairy farmers, but all dairy princesses across the state serve in that capacity in their local areas.

Dairy princesses serve as spokespeople to consumers,conducting media interviews, making classroom visits to educate students about the dairy industry, giving speeches to various organizations and making public appearances at promotions or events.

Dairy princesses are selected on the basis of their communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and its products, and their commitment to dairy promotion. The program gives many young women the opportunity to represent the lifestyle in which they were raised.

Princess Kay candidates, and Minnesota’s county dairy princesses, are daughters of dairy farmers, employees of dairy farms, or daughters of dairy farm employees. They must be graduating seniors in high school when crowned, and not yet 24 years old, and they must not be married. Many princesses voluteer their time locally; some receive stipends for their work. Princess Kay is reimbursed by Midwest Dairy Association through its dairy farmer funding.

Photo from Midwest Dairy

This year’s Princess Kay is Mary Zahurones. Mary is the daughter of Chuck and Pat Tax of Pierz, and will attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities this fall as a pre-med student studying biology and chemistry.

Do you have a little princess or prince who would like a visit from Princess Kay? Visit the Princess Kay Facebook now through the end of the Minnesota State Fair and answer Princess Kay’s question of the day. Each day a winner will be chosen. Winners will have Princess Kay visit their school of choice. How cool! Your son or daughter could introduce this real princess to all his or her classmates. (Talk about awesome!)

Cannot wait to meet a princess? Visit the Minnesota State Fair, now though Labor Day, and have your photo take with Princess Kay or one of the twelve princess finalists. You can find Princess Kay in the Empire Commons. While there, check out the butter heads and enjoy a malt!

Photo from Midwest Dairy

Our family attended the Princesses Kay coronation this year. As each of the finalist were introduced, I grew more and more proud that these young ladies will be representing me and hundreds of other dairy farmers across the state. They are all smart, articulate and of course know what hard work really means.

Congratulations Mary from Zweber Farms. You will represent the dairy industry well during your reign as Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Emily

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, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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Who is Your Farmer?

Did you know that by visiting the Organic Valley website you can learn Who Your Farmers are? By typing in your zip code you can find a list of Organic Valley farmers in your area. Since Organic Valley tries to sell everything as local as possible, these farmers really “are your farmer.”

Take a look at what we do on our farm:

Visit the Organic Valley YouTube page to tour more family farms like ours.

Emily

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, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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Filed under family, farming, Organic Valley, Raising Animals

Wordless Wednesday-Producing Wholesome Milk

 

Tim helping the cows produce fresh, wholesome, Organic Valley milk

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, http://www.zweberfarms.com

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