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Friday, August 1, 2014

Where, Oh Where Has My Little Blog Gone?

And I thought June was crazy busy! The month of June brought me to my computer everyday as each day I shared a dairy topic in honor of June Dairy Month. Whew! A blog post each day can be fun, exhilarating, and exhausting. There will never be a month as busy as June, I heard myself saying. 

Nearly 2 weeks (yes, I have failed you, and I apologize) 
have passed since writing, so it is time to catch up on 
what's been happening on, and off, Bremer Farms.

Farmer John and daughter Sara both celebrate their birthdays in July. Farmer John got his gift early as you may remember his automatic gate opener was installed as soon as it arrived. You can see it in action here. When I asked Sara what was on her birthday wish list, her response was plywood! If you know Sara you may already realize her thoughts can be a bit out-of-the-box, so this came as no surprise. She has plans for an even bigger, HUGE Christmas display on the farm this coming December and plywood will help to make it happen. John and I presented her with a Menard's gift card to get her a step closer to seeing her dream come true. You can bet her masterpiece will be featured on my blog later this year.

July is also our city's annual festival "Rivertown Days." Since Hastings sits on the banks of the Mississippi River, we celebrate the Mighty Mississippi  and its beauty for four days each summer. The celebration culminates on Sunday with the grand day parade. Our family creates the float for son Michael's workplace, Hastings Community Television. This year Michael's boss chose to highlight Michael's show Take A Hike, Mike. After sewing 28 yards of skirting for the float, and outfitting 20 wanna-be-hikers with plaid shirts and bindle sticks (Mike's signature attire), it was time to roll down the parade route.

 Even our farm truck got washed and decorated for a day off the farm to pull the float.

Sara also got her very own float as Hastings Teacher of the Year!

I know it looks like I'm just taking a milk break, but I'm also showing off a thank you gift from Midwest Dairy. This month I was asked to make a little video on why I share my dairy story. Why do I think it's important to be a Champion for Dairy? Take a look...

 Bremer Farms was also recently visited by our 
County Commissioner, Mike Slavik.

 Mike's goal is to visit farms in his district to talk to farmers about issues that affect all of us. Mike understands the importance of  farming and "goes to the source" to get farmer's perspective.

 Farmer John shows County Commissioner Mike Slavik our calf barn while discussing current issues that affect farming.

I can't think of a better way to end the hectic month of July than with freshly made cheese curds. These ridiculously good cheese curds come from Redhead Creamery. You may remember their name from reading Say Cheese, Please. Congratulations to Alise and Lucas for achieving their dream of starting an on-farm, ecologically friendly, cheese plant.

I'll be back in a few days to share a few more July tidbits. Did I mention I also taught Summer school this month? And what about the root beer floats...and  our two building projects on the farm...and the crops we have been harvesting...and...

The end of July also brought the end of National Ice Cream Month, but that doesn't mean the end of eating ice cream! Oh no it doesn't!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pass The Peas, Please

Farmer John spent much of this past week working in the "kitchen." No, he wasn't preparing our family breakfast, or lunch, or dinner either. 
He was making meals for our cows.
The oats, peas, and barley that were planted in early May are now 
ready to be made into "meals."

Oats ready to be cut.

The oats are cut into rows and ready to be chopped.

This is what the oats look like when cut down, waiting to be chopped.

The barley and peas are planted together, and are cut into rows also.
Now in rows, the barley and peas are waiting to be chopped.
The oats, barley, and peas are all chopped and blown into a wagon like this which is pulled behind the forage chopper.
You can watch a video of chopping haylage here. It is the same procedure as the oats, barley and peas chopping, only done with alfalfa hay. It will help you get the idea though.

And lastly it is stored in our bunker (kind of a cow-food pantry) until it is time to be served.

We have two 24' x 75' concrete bunkers to store our haylage, oats, barley, and peas.
After several days (and nights) of Farmer John's meal preps, there are many meals prepared. So ring the dinner bell. Let's get another meal on the table.

We take meal prep very seriously, since dairy cows must be healthy and well cared for in order to produce high-quality milk.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Sweet Gig

My life is hard.
I HAD to eat that cupcake. I mean it. I HAD to eat that cupcake!

And not just one cupcake, but nine cupcakes! 
Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. 
I didn't eat nine cupcakes. I ate part of nine cupcakes.

I was asked to be part of a panel of judges for the 1st Annual Cupcake Competition held at our local hospital and retirement home. Talk about a sweet gig! Why wouldn't I say yes? I have 30+ years of County and State Fair judging experience, plus, come on, it's CUPCAKES, for Pete's sake! I'm not going to turn down that offer.

We judges took our job very seriously, as we savored every bite. 
Lemon, pineapple upside-down cupcakes, fudge, root beer, strawberry- 
each one...de-li-cious!

As we sampled cupcakes, in preparation for crowning the winner; 
a very successful bake sale was also being held. 
All this to support  Alzheimer's Disease research, 
a condition I am much too familiar with since my Grandma had it.

I am so proud to be a part of an amazing community that cares for the health and well-being of its residents. 
And the cupcakes were pretty amazing too!
What a sweet gig!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cows! Gotta Love 'Em

Today is Cow Appreciation Day!

Son Michael appreciates our cows every day.
Cow Appreciation Day may not mean much to you...but it should. Thanks to cows you can have milk on your cereal, cream in your coffee, ice cream with your birthday cake, cheese on your pizza, sour cream with your baked potato, and on, and on, and on. Thanks to cows and their gift of milk we can have our 3 servings of dairy every day. 

Hey! What about us calves?

 Michael, (and all of us at Bremer Farms) appreciate our cows,  
and our calves every day. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

TV Comes To Our Farm

I'm on television! I'm a star...a dairy star! 
Well, perhaps I am exaggerating a bit.
But I am On TV!

This week I was visited by Mary O'Brien, our local Community Education Director. I was the featured guest on her monthly television show "Unity Through Community." Mary is an avid follower of my blog, and her goal was to share a glimpse of dairy farming with her viewers. 
We talked about the cows, and milking, and caring for our calves. All this , and a farm tour too! We also spoke about my blog and how it all got started. Why do I spend my free time writing this blog? Take a look and you'll find out. 

Thank you Mary, for visiting Bremer Farms. And thanks for the kind words about my blog being an informative, honest, and open resource for consumers. I consider that a huge compliment! 

Stop by Dairy Makes Sense  for more dairy news and recipes too.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

X, Y, And Zzzzzz

  June Dairy Month is coming to a close! But the barn doors are still open, 
so join me on my daily A to Z journey 
to learn more about dairy. 
  X, Y, And Z

Since this is my final blog post for June Dairy Month- 2014, I thought it would be a great time to answer some reader questions 
that I have received recently. So today, 

X Is For eXtra Information

Cindy, from Omaha, Nebraska wants to know-

Why do farmers get paid for their milk by the pound, when consumers buy it by the gallon?

Google image
Interesting question. I never thought about that! My guess would be that farmers are paid by the pound because many years ago milk was put in milk cans to be delivered to the creamery (milk plant). These cans of milk were then weighed and the farmer was paid for the milk by weight. Thus, paying by weight continues today. This is just a guess however, and after much "googleing" I couldn't come up with the answer. Does anyone else know the answer to Cindy's question?

Anna, from Rosemount, Minnesota asks-

Why does whole milk cost more than 2%, 1% or skim?

When the fat is taken out of the milk, that fat is worth something.  It is used for butter, for example, and so the whole milk costs more because they haven't removed any of its fat to sell in other products. Therefore the only income from that gallon of milk has to come from only that gallon, not any additional products that use the fat. However, many stores do charge the same price for all milk, no matter what the fat content. 

Lynn, from Chicago, Illinois inquires-

Is there a difference between store-brand milk and "name-brand" milk? 

Funny you should ask that question.  Each milk jug is stamped with the "use by" date and a 4 or 5 digit code which identifies what milk plant that jug was packaged in. It looks like this...

Land O'Lakes ($4.88/gallon) 27-180

Walmart brand, Great Value ($3.09/gallon) 27-180

You can go to the website Where Is My Milk From and type in this code, and you will find where this milk is bottled. Interesting isn't it, that these two jugs of milk are from the same plant? What is different other than the price? Probably nothing.

 Y Is For YouTube

Did you know I have a YouTube channel?  You can find it by searching MyBarnyardView or clicking HERE. This past week I appeared on a local television show which came and toured our farm for June Dairy Month. This video will be on my channel very soon. I'll let you know when it happens! If there is something you are curious about on our farm, just ask! Perhaps I can answer your question in a video!

And lastly,

Z Is For Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Thanks for following along on my A to Z journey through June Dairy Month.

Monday, June 30, 2014

W Is For Wee Ones

It's June dairy Month! The barn doors are open, 
so join me on my daily A to Z journey 
to learn more about dairy. 
  W Is For Wee Ones

Wee ones, as in children, (not Leprechauns),  came to visit Bremer Farms. It is always enjoyable to have visitors and share what it is like to be dairy farmers, but there is nothing more fun than hosting wee visitors, many who have never been on a farm.

Picture first, then cows.

 Our first stop was the cows. As you can see they were a bit shy this morning. Was it the sounds of the children, or the fact that the cows were eating after being milked? I'm thinking it was a combination. They did finally show up.

After touring the milking barn, explaining how cows are milked, and where the milk goes after leaving the cow, and leaving our farm, 
it was off to see the calves.

This is always the favorite stop on the tour. Is it because the kiddos can see eye-to-eye with the calves, or because the calves are so gosh darn cute? 
You decide...

It's always fun to pet a calf...

scratch the itch a calf can't reach...
name a calf (Licky)...

or let a calf nibble on your shirt.

And then, of course there are the kittens. No one could resist 
cuddling with a kitty. Ten kittens...

but they all took turns holding the gray one...

a very patient kitten!

After a glass of chocolate milk (to refuel from the exhausting tour) and an ice cream sandwich (just because) it was time for Nanette's wee ones to head off. Thanks for visiting!