Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thankful For Harvest

With this being Thanksgiving week, it seems like a perfect time to review harvest. We completed corn combing a few weeks back. Farmer John said it was the best year we ever had- cooperative weather and a big yield!

Last year I did all the corn combining. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was gratifying and even relaxing. This Fall, I only drove the combine one day. Grandpa Roy's health improved since last year, and as I have said many times, "You can't keep a good man down." With help from Farmer John or Michael, and occasionally even the loader tractor bucket, Grandpa was helped into the cab of the combine, and down the field road he went with one mission in mind- combing corn. "Git 'er done!" Beside the fact that everyone feels better when busy and productive, I think Grandpa Roy was jealous that I got to drive the new combine that we purchased last Fall, and he hadn't.

 Each time the combine fills with corn, the corn is then transferred to one of three wagons that are used to transport the corn back to the storage bins. Grandma, Sara, and I kept a watchful eye on the wagons as they unloaded. No, it was not a three-person job, only one of us at a time, but this duty was taken on by whoever was not at their off-the-farm-job, or not busy doing other farm chores.

The corn leaves the wagon and goes through a screener which sifts out debris before the corn heads up the auger to the bin which dries and stores the corn. The corn is dried (using propane heat) so that it does not mold. Since we had a fairly warm, dry Fall, we did not have to run the drier as long as usual. This is good news as it saves money! We have two bins which hold 22,000 bushels of corn. Each one is filled to the brim.

We now have enough corn stored to last us until next Fall, to be used as feed for our cattle. You can learn about that here. 
After the combing is finished, John baled the corn stalks which the combine leaves behind in the field. The corn stalk bales are used for bedding.
And lastly, Farmer John and Grandpa Roy prepare the soil, by working up the ground, so it is one step closer to being ready for Spring planting, when we start all over again!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

IOU An Explanation

"Why did you stop writing your blog?" And, "I used to get notified when you write a new blog post and I don't anymore. Why not?" These are some of the comments I have been receiving lately. I feel I owe you an explanation. If you are reading this, you now know that I haven't given up my blog writing. If you are a repeat reader to My Barnyard View, you know that I haven't written since Saying Goodbye to Mom. A lot has happened since then.

 Dad's passing away three years ago left a huge hole in our family. I miss him every day. I think of him often when I'm working on the farm. Many of the chores I do, I first learned from him teaching me on the farm I grew up on.  The farm where Mom lived- until she also passed away.

Now that Mom is gone, there are two huge holes in our family, and every thing is changing. My brother, sister, and I have met at the family farm many, many days since Mom's passing- sorting, discussing future plans, and reminiscing. The place where all my childhood memories were made is quiet, lonely, different.

Attorney meetings, insurance meetings, trips to the bank...lots of things to take care of. I'm thankful for Farmer John, Sara, and Michael who work non-stop to keep everything running smoothly at home while I tend to Mom's affairs. I'm thankful for Gary and Dolores (my siblings) who support me, and each other, through all the transitions. Thank you God, for my amazing family!

As I continue to move forward toward my "new normal" it is important for me to remember to work-in the things that I enjoy, and one of those things is to get back to blogging. Yes, there's still a lot of Mom and Dad business to tend to, but with family support, it will get done.

So readers, look out! It's catch-up time. I'll be blogging about chaperoning some terrific young woman who spent every day telling their dairy stories at the Minnesota State Fair. I'll be sharing about the recent day spent with the advisors from the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. How's harvest coming along? I'll tell you about that too!

Thanks to all of you for sticking with me while I was "taking care of life." If you have a suggestion for a blog topic or question, please leave a comment below.

See you soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saying Goodbye To Mom

My Mom passed away this week.  She has battled diabetes, stroke, heart attack, leg amputation, colon cancer, and many other health challenges, all in just the past three years. It is with love that I think of the phrase, "a cat having nine lives." If I'm counting correctly, this was her tenth hospital stay. 

Mom was a fighter. She was stubborn and she was strong. I rarely heard her complain about her physical challenges. She didn't talk about how things have changed, but rather about what she was doing to adapt to the changes.

Family was the most important part of her life. She was a great daughter and big sister,

 a loving wife and help-mate to my dad, Farmer Brown,

an encouraging Mom who taught us to replace, "I could..." with "I will..."

a wonderfully supportive Grandma,

 a special Great-Grandma,

and best of all, my friend. 
Because of what you taught me Mom, I will continue to change "I could" to "I will."

I shared this poem on my blog when my Dad passed away three years ago. It's a perfect fit for Mom as well. Love you Mom.

In Our Hearts

by Rose de Leon

We thought of you with love today,
But that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday.
And days before that too.
We think of you in silence.
We often speak your name.
Now all we have is memories.
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake.
With which we’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping.
We have you in our heart.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

X, Y, Z, all done

  After an eXtra busy June Dairy Month, Yes, I'm Zapped!

But if there's at least one thing you have learned from my June Dairy Month posts; I feel I have accomplished my goal. As you have followed my A to Z journey, I hope you have come to realize how passionate my family and I are about the farming lifestyle that we live. 

Farmer John
We take much pride in everything we do at Bremer Farms, and we thank God for the opportunities He has given us.

  • it allows me to continue my family tradition as a proud sixth generation dairy farmer.
  • my husband, Farmer John never complains about going to work.
  • we have raised our children on our dairy farm, and never heard, "I'm bored!"
  • we spend many hours working side-by-side with family, and there's nothing better than spending time with family.
  • it reinforces that hard work truly does pay off.
  • living and working on our dairy farm teaches us to care for and appreciate God's creation.
  • it gives me the opportunity to answer questions and meet new people as I share our dairy farming story.
  • we help feed the world safe, nutritious dairy foods.
  • my family and I are "leaving this world a little better than when we found it" through our sustainability efforts on our dairy farm.
  • we are the first step to making milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream! Yum...dairy deliciousness!
 Thank you for visiting during June Dairy Month. I hope you'll come back often, and perhaps invite a friend or two to join us. I am truly grateful for each of you!
 Shoot me a comment or email if you have a topic idea or a question to answer. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

W Is For Wrap-Up

I know what you're thinking...It's the last day of June, and Janet is only on letter W! You're right, I fell behind. Have you ever heard the phrase, "stuff happens"? Well, "stuff" has been happening here on Bremer Farms. No, not all bad, just busy. As much as I had every intention to blog each day of June, sometimes life gets in the way. So please excuse the couple of missed days, and let me wrap-up our A-Z journey through June Dairy Month. (Thanks!)

I have shared this video before, but I like to share it occasionally since not everyone has been following my story since I began my blog four years ago. (I know, weird right? Not everyone was here from the beginning. But hey, you're here now, and that's what matters).

I made this video of our farm two years ago. The pictures may not be new, but the information is still current. I was asked by Phil Lempert of the Lempert Report to make this video. I hope you'll take time to watch it, and add a thought or question in the comments below, if you'd like.  

I'll see you tomorrow as I continue to finish the alphabet. And if "stuff" stops happening, maybe I can update this video. Michael...I need you, pleeease.

V Is For Volunteer

Tonight Bessie and I did a bit of volunteering.

Bessie and I were invited to an activity for United Way of Hastings. United Way describes itself as neighbors helping neighbors, right here in the community you live in. (I love this!) Their mission is to "collaborate with other organizations, identify root causes, and solve our most crucial community needs."

How could Bessie and I possibly say no to an organization that is all about improving the lives of my fellow community members. 

In the spirit of June Dairy Month, United Way held an ice cream social for the organizations it supports. Bessie and I were invited to talk dairy,  hand out dairy recipes and everyone got a dairy filled goodie bag. We also thanked everyone for enjoying dairy foods. Bessie even reminded folks of the importance of  #Dairy3forMe.

I really enjoy the opportunity to visit with new friends about dairy farming. I appreciate all the great conversations. I hope everyone left tonight knowing I am a dairy farmer passionate about what I do, and also knowing how much I appreciate them consuming our healthy and good tasting dairy foods. 

Thank you Mari and the United Way crew, for letting me be a part of your event. Also, thanks for what you and the supporting organizations do for my neighbors in Hastings.
Happy June Dairy Month!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

U Is For Us

Bremer Farms is a family affair. Farming takes all of us working as a team to get the jobs done. While Farmer John and I are baling hay, Sara and Michael were feeding and milking the cows.

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 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.

PS- Did you know 97% of farms are family owned?

Don't forget to pledge to have your 3 servings of dairy each day.