Friday, October 24, 2014

Nature's Facelift And A Giveaway

My favorite season of the year is Fall.

Thanks to Megan Z. for this photo taken on the St. Croix River.
I love the Fall colors. I think Fall is God's way of giving the landscape a bit of a facelift before our Minnesota Winter sets in. You see, if you are not from a Winter Wonderland like Minnesota, you may not know that before the snow covers and illuminates the landscape, that said landscape is brown and downright dreary! That's when God pops the Fall color image back into your head and you say, "Yes, but wasn't it a gorgeous Fall!"

Love this tree on the front yard of my childhood home.
I've been doing a bit of facelift work too. Although not nearly as grand as the Fall landscape, I am still proud of some facelift changes at My Barnyard View. Perhaps you noticed the new photo at the header of this blog. Daughter Sara captured this image as we were finishing up hay chopping right before a rain shower that left us with a double rainbow. 

You may have also noticed the new "buttons" on the right side of my posts.

I have added Instagram, and
 my channel on YouTube showing all my videos.
I also recently added a "My Barnyard View" Facebook page. 
(That's another facelift.) 

 I invite you to click on the 

 on the right side of this post, and "like" my newest addition 
to the Barnyard family.

Following My Barnyard View is as easy 
as a click of a button!

and facelifts!

In honor of all the new changes at My Barnyard View, 
let's celebrate with a giveaway! 

 Enter to win the start of your dairy herd. I promise you will not have to clean-up after her, but if you feed her she will help you save for upcoming holiday gifts, or perhaps pay for another addition to your herd!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A BIG Lunch Bag

Every so often I get this crazy notion to fill my freezer with make-ahead meals. Have you ever had this thought? Just imagine coming home from a hectic day, reaching into the freezer and a short time later presenting your family with a hearty meal. This idea is still just in my head...not my freezer, but this week we finished make-ahead hearty meals for our cows.

This week we finished filling their lunch bags with silage.  

 Corn silage is made by chopping the entire corn plant into small pieces using a machine called a forage harvester, which is pulled by a tractor. A wagon with tall sides is pulled behind the forage harvester to catch the chopped corn. 

 The wagons are then taken to the bunker where they are unloaded and the silage is tightly packed inside to avoid spoilage, and then the bunker is covered with plastic. Our bunkers are large, but not large enough to store all the silage we need for our animals, so we fill lunch bags too.

These plastic bags are 8 feet high and 150 feet long. They do the same job as our bunker- keep our cows feed fresh and safe.

The field may be bare, but our "cupboards" sure aren't. The silage in our bunker and bags will feed our cows until next fall. You can see how we mix the silage with additional feed by reading 120 Hungry Mouths To Feed.

I would call this a silage success story, but there's another, even bigger, success I want to share...

My father-in-law, Grandpa Roy has returned to tractor driving to help with silage chopping.  Thanks to the grace of God, he has returned to good health after suffering a serious heart attack followed by emergency heart surgery last March. We are so happy he is able to return to doing what he loves!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

V Should Be For Victory

V is for "Victory."
V is also for "Vikings Victory."
But this week we will have to settle for V is just for "Vikings."

If you have been following my blog for very long you will already know that I am a HUGE Minnesota Vikings Football fan. So is Farmer John, and so is our son Michael. Daughter Sara...not so much.

Each year for Michael's birthday we cheer on our beloved Vikes at a game that Michael chooses. This year it was verses the Detroit Lions. 
Here's how our day went...

Get up earlier than usual to do chores and milk cows. 
Grab a muffin and some yogurt and head off to the light rail station.
Ride the light rail to the game. 
(This avoids traffic and parking headaches at the stadium).

Me and birthday boy Mike
Farmer John and Sara

Once at the stadium...
Find bathroom, food, and that order.

Since the Minnesota Vikings are currently building a new stadium, 
this (and next) seasons games are being held at 
the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.

It is a beautiful stadium on a 60 degree, slightly breezy October day. A December football game...hmmm...maybe not so much.

Win or lose, we always stay until the end.

Other than my creepy "hat-hair" I love this picture.

So our Vikings couldn't pull out a victory (congrats to Detroit) but you can bet we'll be heading back to celebrate Michael's birthday with the Vikes again next year. Until then...

Heading home to do chores.

The players were leaving the stadium at the same time we were and I snapped this picture of 6 foot 8 inch, 343 pound, tackle, Phil Loadholt. After the game, I guess it's back to reality for all of us, dad's and farmers.

For more of our Minnesota Vikings encounters...

You can read about, and view a video of the day we met the Vikings, here-

and learn about the Vikings player that came to our farm, here-

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Four in One

Cows have, like seven stomachs, don't they? 

That was the question Pastor Z greeted me with when we shook hands at the end of today's worship service. I don't even remember how the conversation rolled around to that topic, but after giving him an abbreviated answer, I said, "That would make a great blog post!" So Pastor Z this one is for you 
(and anyone else who is curious).

Many people think cows have 4 stomachs, 
but they have one stomach with four compartments.

Parts of a cow’s stomach

  • Rumen – This is the first part of the cow’s stomach. It helps break down complex plant products like grass. This is the largest part and holds up to 50 gallons of partially digested food.  Good bacteria in the Rumen helps soften and digest the cow's food and provides protein for the cow. 
  • Reticulum – Here the food mixes with the cow’s saliva and produces cud. Cows burp up the cud into their mouths and chew it to help break it down more. Each cud returns to the cow's mouth and is chewed 40-60 times and then swallowed properly.
  • Omasum – Here all the water is absorbed out of the food.
  • Abomasum – Here is where the food is finally digested, similar to what happens in a human stomach. The food is digested by the cow's stomach juices, and essential nutrients that the cow needs are passed through the bloodstream. The rest is passed through to the intestines and comes out as well... you know...manure. 
So there you have it- 

1 stomach, 4 compartments

Way to go Pastor Z for keeping me on my toes. Next question please...

Speaking of stomachs... How about this to warm you up on a cool Fall day.

Thanks to Dairy Makes Sense for the recipe.

Cow stomach illustration thanks to Google image search.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's a Three-Pete

This week I was invited to do a third submission for

Food, Nutrition & Science is a newsletter prepared by Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru, and his team. Each newsletter shares the latest news in food science, agriculture, health and wellness and sustainability efforts.

In the past I had been asked to make a video of our farm for readers to get a virtual tour of a dairy farm.
You can read about it here and also watch it here.

Another time I was asked to answer questions for a 
Q and A about being a dairy farmer. 

This month I was invited to choose my own topic for a feature called "From the Farmer's Tractor." I chose Sustainability, and what we at Bremer Farms do to take what we need to live now, without jeopardizing the potential for people in the future to meet their needs. You can read my guest column From The Farmer's Tractor here.

So it's a three-pete! Three times I have been invited by the Lempert Report to share what Bremer Farms is all about, and I will gladly accept a fourth, fifth, even one hundred invitations. I want everyone to know what we do "down on the farm" and the passion we have for the life we have chosen!

While you're visiting Food, Nutrition & Science read about my friend and fellow DairyMom Karen Bohnert.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

We Need Your Help

We, and farmers like us, need your help. 

A new coalition called A Greater Minnesota (AGM) has been created to inform Minnesotans about the issues surrounding farming and food production and the economic impacts to the state.

What's AGM's purpose?

  Policies and regulations that support agriculture are paramount to protecting and growing Minnesota’s status as a major player in the farm and food production industry. To help ensure its sustainability, a new coalition called A Greater Minnesota (AGM) has been created to inform Minnesotans about the issues surrounding farming and food production and the economic impacts to the state.  This new coalition is launching a campaign to raise awareness – specifically among legislative candidates who can adopt and maintain policies that support a thriving food and agricultural sector. A key component of the campaign is to inform the public about key issues and ask Minnesota voters to encourage legislative candidates to take the 5-Point MN Farm and Food Pledge. The pledge encourages support for all good MN farms (big or small, traditional or organic), environmental stewardship, caring for farm animals, sensible food labeling and food safety. The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, the Chicken And Egg Association of Minnesota, the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and various other Minnesota farm and food entities support the AGM coalition. 

 But I'm not a farmer. Why should I care? 

  Minnesota farmers and food producers play an essential role in the state’s economy and are largely responsible for the quality food consumed on a daily basis. The market value of food and farm products sold in Minnesota each year is about $21.3 billion, according to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture. Additionally, jobs provided by the food and farm industry employ hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.
“If you live in Minnesota, the agriculture industry benefits you. It puts good food on your table, supports hundreds of thousands of good jobs in both greater Minnesota and the metro, and is a huge contributor to our state economy,” said Perry Aasness, executive director of Minnesota Agri-Growth Council.  “We need legislators to put good farms, food and jobs first, and we need Minnesota residents to help us hold them accountable to keep our extensive and diverse food and agriculture sector strong.”

So it does affect me. What can I do about it?

AGM encourages Minnesota residents to visit Farm and Food MN to learn more about agriculture and how they have a vested interest in its vitality. The website is also home to a platform that helps people easily discover candidates for office in their district and offers them a simple on-line tool to urge candidates to support the critical farms and food agenda.

Despite its importance, farming advocates are on the decline. The disconnect between farmers/food producers and everyday folks continues to grow. A recent poll found that only 42 percent of people in Minnesota personally know someone who operates or works on a farm. Those numbers are even lower in urban areas and among the young.
Concerns regarding the safety and methods of how our food is produced have increased dramatically in recent years, but the care, safety and protected environment of our farm animals has never been better. Crops, today, are producing higher yields, nourishing more people, all while using less water, fuel and other chemicals. 

 Please visit Farm and Food MN to learn more about agriculture in Minnesota. I also ask that you consider contacting your local candidates to express your concern for agriculture in Minnesota. It's as easy as a click of a button at Farm and Food MN.

But I'm not from Minnesota...

I still encourage you to check out Farm and Food MN. You will learn a lot about agriculture, view videos, and witness the passion we farmers have for our important industry that affects us all.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A New Dining Table

We have a new dining table!
 I love to shop, but this new table didn't allow me to 
head to my favorite furniture store to choose one. 
No, this table is for our milking herd.

It is time for "out with the old,"

and "in with the new!"

You may have noticed that the "old way" has an auger system running down the center of the dining table, and there is nothing but feed as the new table's centerpiece. I'll start from the beginning, so you can see how our new dining table came to be and how it works.

Every table needs a strong, level set of legs, so the first step was to pour a new concrete base, or table top.

Next the new belt-style feeding system is installed. With our "old way" the auger was at our cow's eye level, and the "new way" has the belt mounted overhead. See the shiny silver and red? That's where it is.

Then, just like before, the chute is installed at the other end. 
This is where the TMR (total mixed ration) wagon pulls up 
to unload the feed into the new bulk feeder. 
So what's in the TMR wagon?
You can learn about the feed at 120 Hungry Mouths To Feed.

 And there you have it. Our new dining table is complete and ready for it's first dinner guests. Ladies...come and get it!

We keep our cows well fed and healthy so they can continue to make milk for you, and me!