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.


Monday, June 27, 2016

T Is For Teeth and Trivia

Do cows bite?
I get this question often.
Have you ever seen a cow smile?
If so, it did not look like this.

Google image
Cows have 32 teeth, just like us, but cows do not have upper front teeth. Instead cows have a tough dental pad. They could "gum" you, but they can't bite you.

Why no front teeth?
Since cows are plant eaters, rather than meat eaters, they have no need for front incisors. Cows use their bottom teeth and their tongue to rip the grass or hay. They toss it in their mouths and swallow it whole, almost without chewing. When she has her fill, the cow then regurgitates it and chews it again using the top and bottom molars in the back of its mouth before swallowing it again. Once it is thoroughly chewed it is swallowed again and digested. Cows can spend about 8 hours a day eating, and another 8 hours per day chewing their cud. 

So what other interesting facts can I share today?
  • Cows can smell odors up to 6 miles away.
  • Cows can lick and pick their nose with their tongues.
  • Cows drink about a bathtub full of water each day.
  • Cow's spots are like snowflakes. No two cows are alike.
And did you know-
Google image
See you tomorrow as our June Dairy Month A to Z journey continues.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

S Is For Sweets

S should really be for Sweets and Sara. Thanks to Sara for the inspiration for today's post.

Our daughter Sara made this Double Chocolate Cookie Tart on her TV show, Aprons Optional. She often makes recipes using dairy on her show. Yep, we brought her up right, and yes, it is as delicious as it looks! 

You can see the entire Aprons Optional episode right here.

Double Chocolate Cookie Tart
(recipe found at

Chocolate-Chip Crust


8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 11-inch tart pan with nonstick spray.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.
3. Add the flour, baking soda and salt, and mix to combine. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until evenly incorporated.
4. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan, creating an even layer in the base and up the side. Use a paring knife to remove excess dough from the edge.
5. Bake the crust until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely before filling and serving.
Note: To bake this crust in a 9-inch tart pan, remove 1 cup of the finished dough from the mixture before pressing the remainder into the tart pan. To make use of that extra dough, divide it into 6 pieces and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes.

Tart Filling


1 recipe Chocolate Chip Crust

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place the prepared chocolate-chip cookie tart crust on a flat baking sheet.
2. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium heat-safe bowl. In a small pot, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 15 to 30 seconds undisturbed.
3. Stir the ganache gently to combine until it’s totally smooth. If there are still pieces of chocolate, microwave the mixture in 10-second bursts until smooth.
4. Pour the warm ganache into the crust and use a spatula to smooth it into an even layer. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until set, 20 to 30 minutes.
5. When the ganache is set, prepare the whipped cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract to medium peaks.
6. Spread the finished cream on top of the tart. Serve immediately.

You can follow Sara and Aprons Optional on Instagram @apronsoptional14