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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!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Good-Bye Old Friend

Earlier this week the Minnesota State Fair closed its gates for another year, but my family hopped on the bus several times during its 12 day run to experience the fun and excitement. Come along as I share a few of our adventures.


Some days at the Fair begin with a little work, and I use the term "work" very loosely. For several years I have been asked to judge 4-H demonstrations. I love evaluating the 4-Her's presentations, and each year I am amazed at what I learn about their projects!
 After lunch and some chocolate milk refueling, it was off to watch the parade.

  We waved hello to this years Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Jeni Haler.

And yes, dairy farmers occasionally drink something other than milk. We made soda cans with our names on. No fighting over whose can is whose.

Then it was time to play detective. Since my dad passed away one year ago, and he was a huge Fair fan and supporter, our family felt it was appropriate to donate something to the Minnesota State Fair. Ta-da! The Glen Brown memorial bench!

What's a Fair without food? Time to support the hog farmers with some unbelievable maple flavored "bacon on a stick."

Son Michael and I rubbed elbows (almost) with celebrity Garrison Keillor of Praire Home Companion.
When Farmer John and I go to the Fair, part of our time is spent talking dairy. Each year we volunteer in the Moo Booth. With most people two to three generations removed from farming, this is our chance to answer questions that may have been answered by their farming relatives in the past. 

Farmer John and I were also presented with a special Champion for Dairy ribbon in acknowledgment of our 15+ years of volunteering to answer questions and share our love for the farming life we love.
Before heading home to milk our cows, we always check out the...

Our neighbor, and Princess Kay finalist, Gabriella Sorg was having her likeness carved in butter. You can learn about the Butterhead process here.

My family and I are always sad to see the Fair come to a close. Thank goodness we take lots of pictures to help us relive the memories. Until next year...good-bye old friend!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Follow-Up Friday 2

This week on Bremer Farms...
This week our kitchen turned into a television studio as Sara and Mike filmed the first three episodes of daughter Sara's new show for Hastings Community TV, Aprons Optional. We have been enjoying many yummy samples! Apron's Optional premieres in early October.

The hollyhocks are in full bloom near our calf barn. 

Grandpa Roy says they are his favorite flower and they remind him of the farm he grew up on.

Sara is gearing up for her biggest Holiday Outdoor display in the history of Bremer Farms. I'm thinking UPS and Fed-Ex is looking to the amount of packages Sara is receiving as their job security.
Santa's reindeer stable arrived this week.

We pride ourselves on keeping our farm neat and organized. This week our  metal recycler paid us a visit. We have been working on many projects; replacing our feeding system (blogging about that next week) re-purposing a shed (blogging about that when it's complete) and replacing gates and water tanks. We are all about recycling, not only because we like our farm neat, but we care about the environment. Reduce, reuse, recycle... priorities every day here.

It's sweet corn season on the farm, and although we do not grow sweet corn, we get a lot from a very generous neighbor. 15 quarts are already in the freezer with more to come. I shared my recipe on my blog post 

We made our first visit to the Minnesota State Fair on Wednesday night.

We were greeted by Fairchild, our state fair mascot, as John, Sara, and I attended the coronation of the 61st Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Our neighbor Gabriella Sorg was one of the 12 finalists. You can learn more about her, and the princess program by clicking on her name.

Gabriella (in the pink) was selected as Miss Congeniality. That was no surprise to us, as she is one of the friendliest and sweetest girls you will ever meet! One of these 12 "milkmaids" will be crowned Princess Kay and will represent Minnesota Farmers and the dairy industry for the next year. 
And the winner is...

Jeni Haler
Congratulations Jen!

The Princess Kay program is sponsored by Midwest Dairy

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...

This is the message I emailed to Heather.

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!

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

Follow-Up Friday 1

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


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!