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WELCOME TO MY BARNYARD! I'M SO GLAD YOU CAME TO VISIT. I BLOG ABOUT HOW I SEE THE WORLD, ON AND OFF THE FARM. I'M SHARING MY BARNYARD BLESSINGS ABOUT FAITH, FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND FARMING.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hay Two Ways

When the hay is ready and the weather is cooperating, it's all hands on deck to get the crop in. 


This is the tractor that I drive. I am pulling the baler which makes square bales.


This is my view while driving the tractor. The light colored stripes on the field is the hay (alfalfa) which has already been cut down into rows. The hay typically lays for a couple days to dry before being baled.


While I am driving the baler, John is picking up the bales using a New Holland Automatic Bale Wagon. Watch the video below to see how it works. I think it is amazing and it sure beats handling all those hay bales by hand like we used to do when John and I were kids!


After the bales are picked up from the hay field, John drives the bale wagon into the hay shed where the bales, with the flip of a lever, are automatically unloaded into a neat pile.


These square bales are fed to our calves and younger cattle. Square bales, which are 16" x 16" x 32" are more convenient and easier for us to bring to the barns where these animals live. We feed about 75 square bales per week. 
We also make large round bales.


Round bales are 4 feet by 4 feet, and are used to feed our cows. Because of their size, they are brought in from the field in a different way. Take a look.


We use about 20 round bales per week. They are stored in another hay barn until they are used.


We are in the process of completing our third crop of hay. We can typically  harvest our hay crop 3-4 times during its growing season. It takes about 30 days for alfalfa to grow to be ready for another cutting. It is a really satisfying feeling knowing that when we are finished we will have quality feed for our animals.

When we are not making hay, milking cows, or doing other farm chores, we are counting down to the Minnesota State Fair
Only 3 more days! See you there!



Friday, August 15, 2014

What the? Another Giveaway Winner?

My Minnesota State Fair giveaway posted on Dooby Dooby Moo and A Giveway Too ended at midnight and the winner is...
HEATHER

This is the message I emailed to Heather.
 
"Congratulations!

You are the winner of the Minnesota State Fair Package.
I will be sending you 4 admission tickets to the Minnesota State Fair and 4 coupons for malts to enjoy while visiting the fair.
Please email me your address as soon as you can so that I can send them to you. Hurry, the fair begins on Thursday, August 21!
I hope that you will continue to view my blog, and I would love it if you would be willing to send me a few pictures of you at the fair. If you are comfortable with this, I would like to put a couple on my blog.

Thanks for entering and have fun at the fair!"


But wait, hold everything!
This is the response I received from Heather.
 
Hi Janet,

I am so bummed out!  I must have entered this giveaway by mistake and just my luck I win it!  I live in Oregon so I can not use these tickets so I guess I am going to make someone's day!

Heather 
 
 So I went back to Rafflecopter, the host site for my giveaway, and a NEW winner was randomly selected, and the winner is...
 
LIN W.
 
Congratulations Lin W. Have fun at the fair!
 
 

Follow-Up Friday

My Minnesota State Fair giveaway posted on Dooby Dooby Moo and A Giveway Too ended at midnight and the winner is...

HEATHER

 
Heather will be receiving 4 admission tickets and 4 malt coupons to be used at the Minnesota State fair. Have fun Heather, and don't forget to visit the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand.

Thanks to everyone who entered and welcome to my new Twitter followers!

In other news...

Remember back in June... K Is For Kitten Meet some of the newest additions to Bremer Farms. Sara and I both noticed an offer we couldn't refuse in our school email. "10 kittens. Free to a good home." 
Here they are two months later.
All ten...
are still...
going and...
growing strong,
even Rebel (on the right) is behaving!

More news...
This past week we also completed combining oats. The oats are now safely tucked in the grain bin.
They are stored here until they are mixed with corn and minerals and then fed to our cattle.
And finally the last bit of news for this week... 

Sara and I had fun off the farm as we were invited to compete on a new game show on Hastings Community TV Go For The Dough.


Watch Go For The Dough here.

Only 6 more days until the Great Minnesota Get-together!
See you there!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's Show Time- Revisited

Today I am revisiting a past blog post. I often get questions around this time of year about our animals going to the local fairs. Why do farmers do this? 

Just a reminder (taken from Part 1- A Farm-Style Vacation and Part 2- A Vacation For The Cows Too)...Here in Minnesota we are deep into county fair time and the State Fair is fast approaching. Whether you are farm folks, or not, this is the time of year when many of us attend a fair to see the exhibits, enjoy the carnival, and indulge in the ooey, gooey, fair food. For generations my family has been very involved in exhibiting at county fairs. Today I am sharing the first of a three-part series about why farmers take their cattle to a fair, and the preparations it takes. I enjoyed exhibiting and showing my animals at the fair, but I was not an authority. It's time to call in the experts! I recruited my cousins from Brown's Apple Acres, Terri Dallas, Kristi Ruen, Staci Brown, and Heidi Anderson.



Part 3 - It's Show Time!

Finally show day arrives and all the work and energy throughout the year is now tested!  Cattle enter the show ring and are evaluated by a judge, a pageant of sorts, as the animals are paraded around the ring. Led by their proud owner, the two work together to make the animal look it's very best, hoping for that first place blue ribbon.  They are critiqued based on their characteristics that make them productive to you the consumer, traits that allow them to produce milk and live a long, comfortable life.  Udder, feet and legs and dairy form are some of the terms you might hear as the judge uses the microphone to explain, to the exhibitors and onlookers, his reasons for placing the class. 

Terri and her heifer, Precious Princess, with their trophy.










There is much more to showing cattle then the grand champion purple ribbon. Friendships are made, traditions like the winner buying pizza for all the other exhibitors, and getting less sleep than anyone should get while on a vacation (remember, there are still a number of girls at home that still need their care too) are all some of the best memories of time at the fair.  Many of our very best friendships are rooted deep in our showing days.  It’s fun to see our kids excited to see their "fair" friends at the county fair, and again when they gather at the great Minnesota Get Together, the Minnesota State Fair in August.
The Apple Acres grandkids ready for the show ring in their white show clothes.
While other families may go up north or to the lake for vacation, our family's vacations, although not traditional, served a similar purpose of spending time with each other while doing something we absolutely loved. 
  
Brother Jim, and his son Danny, the future of "farm-style" vacations.
Did you know you can win MN State Fair tickets and malts?
It's nearly time for the Minnesota State Fair and I want you to be there. I am again this year, inviting you to enter to win a Minnesota State Fair prize package ($60+ value). The winner will receive four admission tickets to the fair and four coupons redeemable for malts to enjoy at the fair. 
 

Enter now. The winner will be announced on my blog August 15th.

The Minnesota State Fair admission tickets and Dairy Goodness Bar malt coupons are provided by Midwest Dairy Association. All opinions expressed are my own.   


See you there!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Vacation For The Cows Too- Revisited

Today I am revisiting a past blog post. I often get questions around this time of year about our animals going to the local fairs. Why do farmers do this? 
Today we revisit 
A Vacation For The Cows Too! 
Just a reminder (taken from Part 1- A Farm-Style Vacation)...Here in Minnesota we are deep into county fair time and the State Fair is fast approaching. Whether you are farm folks, or not, this is the time of year when many of us attend a fair to see the exhibits, enjoy the carnival, and indulge in the ooey, gooey, fair food. For generations my family has been very involved in exhibiting at county fairs. Today I am sharing the first of a three-part series about why farmers take their cattle to a fair, and the preparations it takes. I enjoyed exhibiting and showing my animals at the fair, but I was not an authority. It's time to call in the experts! I recruited my cousins from Brown's Apple Acres. Terri Dallas, Kristi Ruen, Staci Brown, and Heidi Anderson will let you in on a behind-the-scenes look at their "Farm-Style" Vacation.

Part 2 - A Vacation For The Cows Too!


The fair is not only a vacation for the farm families, it is also a vacation for the cows! It is kind of like a five day trip to the spa for the girls!  The cows are pampered and primped in preparation for the big day. There are countless hours spent washing and clipping them to the point where they are just perfect. The cows also get their nails done…oops, hooves clipped…before the show. They spend all five days laying on a pack of fresh straw, being served hay, corn, and grain on a continuous cycle, getting daily “baths,” having fans blowing on them to cool them off, and basically their every need tended to. It is our number one job to watch and care for them at all times while we are on our vacation to the fair. It’s not that cow’s lives on the farm aren’t luxurious, but they do get extra special treatment at the fair during those five days!


Heidi clipping the hair on the legs so they look perfect for the show.



Another fun part of our family vacation is the ability to educate people who are not familiar with dairy cows as they pass through the barn. They are very curious and have a lot of questions.  We have heard just about every question you can imagine. We appreciate that people ask and have a desire to learn.  It gives us a chance to educate the community. They commonly want to know how cows are milked, how often they are milked, how we pick their names, how old they are, how much they weigh, what breed they are, how much milk a cow gives, etc. The number one question we have heard over the years is definitely, “Why are they so skinny?” You see, at the Washington County Fair, one side of the cattle barn is filled with dairy cows and the other is filled with beef cows. The people that walk through are very curious why dairy cows bones stick out and they don’t look as “healthy” as the beef. The answer is quite simple. That is how dairy cows are made.  For example, just like dog breeds are different sizes, shapes, and colors, the same is true of cows. To be thin, or dairy, is a characteristic of dairy cows. They spend much of their energy and food intake on making milk, not gaining weight. If a dairy cow is heavy, she is either pregnant or not milking very much. So when you see a "skinny" dairy cow don’t worry, that is a desirable characteristic!  
  
"
Fresh feed is measured and fed several times a day at the fair, courtesy of Staci and the boys.
Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow- It's Show Time!

And don't forget...

It's nearly time for the Minnesota State Fair and I want you to be there. I am again this year, inviting you to enter to win a Minnesota State Fair prize package ($60+ value). The winner will receive four admission tickets to the fair and four coupons redeemable for malts to enjoy at the fair. 
 

Enter now. The winner will be announced on my blog August 15th.
 
The Minnesota State Fair admission tickets and Dairy Goodness Bar malt coupons are provided by Midwest Dairy Association. All opinions expressed are my own.
   


 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Farm Style Vacation- Revisited

Today I am revisiting a past blog post. I often get questions around this time of year about our animals going to the local fairs. Why do farmers do this? 

Here in Minnesota we are deep into county fair time and fast approaching the Minnesota State Fair. Whether you are farm folks, or not, this is the time of year when many of us attend a fair to see the exhibits, enjoy the carnival, and indulge in the ooey, gooey, fair food. For generations my family has been very involved in exhibiting at county fairs. Today I am sharing the first of a three-part series about why farmers take their cattle to a fair, and the preparations it takes. I enjoyed exhibiting and showing my animals at the fair, but I was not an authority. It's time to call in the experts! I recruited my cousins from Brown's Apple Acres. Terri Dallas, Kristi Ruen, Staci Brown, and Heidi Anderson will let you in on a behind-the-scenes look at their "Farm-Style" Vacation.

The Apple Acres Cattle on vacation at the Washington County Fair.
Many childhood memories revolve around family vacations.  The family would pile into a car and head for the beach, the cabin, the campgrounds or even the resort.  Whatever the destination, a good time was had by all.
  

Growing up on a farm, our family vacations were a little bit different.  We piled into a pick up and headed to the Washington County Fairgrounds for five days of family fun in the dairy barn! Preparing for a vacation takes a lot of planning, organizing and packing.  This was true of our family vacation too. However, instead of packing a suitcase, we were packing supplies we needed to make our heifers and cows look their best at the fair.  Hoses, brushes, soap and hair spray were carefully placed in a show box along with clippers, halters and combs.  Next, we had to gather feed tubs and pails and grain and hay to feed the cows and heifers, and straw for bedding.  Rule number one on the family vacation – cows and heifers come first.


Now that the cows/heifers are packed, we could pack for the rest of the family.  First and foremost was finding the bag of white show clothes.  Yes, you read that correctly, white show clothes.  A long time ago someone decided that dairy cattle exhibitors should wear white clothes when showing their cattle.  The idea was to have a neat appearance so as not to detract from the general appearance of the animal.  And, did I mention the county fair was always the first week of August? It never failed that it was about 90 degrees in the shade; and there was no shade.  That “neat appearance” lasted about 2 minutes!
Kristi proudly presenting her heifer and a Reserve Champion ribbon.

You are probably thinking, “Now that sounds like a FUN vacation.  Where do I sign up?”  The truth is, farmers show their dairy animals for more than the fun and vacation. Like any other exhibit at the fair, dairy farmers bring their heifers and cows to see how they compare to other cows in their county/state and to the ideal cow.  Yes, there is an ideal cow with particular characteristics for each breed to which all cows are compared.  Each animal is shown in a class against other heifers or cows of the same breed and age.  An overall champion and reserve champion is awarded at the end of the show.  There is much pride for the farmers and exhibitors to showcase their animals at the fair, no matter how the heifers or cows placed at the show.
  
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow- A Vacation For The Cows Too! 

And don't forget...

It's nearly time for the Minnesota State Fair and I want you to be there. I am again this year, inviting you to enter to win a Minnesota State Fair prize package ($60+ value). The winner will receive four admission tickets to the fair and four coupons redeemable for malts to enjoy at the fair. 
 

Enter now. The winner will be announced on my blog August 15th.
 
The Minnesota State Fair admission tickets and Dairy Goodness Bar malt coupons are provided by Midwest Dairy Association. All opinions expressed are my own.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cookies And Milk, State Fair Style


Apparently I'm not the only one that feels this way, as the September issue of Food Network Magazine just named Midwest Dairy's All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand as the go-to place for milk when enjoying Sweet Martha's Cookies at the Minnesota State Fair


Cookies and milk have been a State Fair tradition for my family for as long as I can remember. We get our bucket of cookies. Who cares that we have to wait in line nearly an hour. The wait gives us a chance to meet new people. We walk across the fairgrounds to the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand, order up our chocolate or white milk, find a patch of grass to rest our weary bones, and begin dining on the best chocolate chip cookies and ice cold milk you can ever imagine! Ahhh...fair food!

P.S. Thanks Martha, for the stash of plastic cookie pails neatly stacked in my pantry cupboard. If you need some, maybe we can make a trade  :)


The Minnesota State Fair begins August 21 and runs through Labor Day and I want you to be there. I am again this year, inviting you to enter to win a Minnesota State Fair prize package ($60+ value). The winner will receive four admission tickets to the fair and four coupons redeemable for malts to enjoy at the fair. 
 

Enter now. The winner will be announced on my blog August 15th.



a Rafflecopter giveaway





See you at the Fair!