Friday, August 31, 2012

The Cow Says Moo

Hannah Holstein at the Minnesota State Fair
Day 4

Caution! People Crossing

John and I spent the afternoon sharing our stories and experiences of dairy farming, and answered many questions too. We volunteered at the Moo Booth at the Minnesota State Fair. The Moo Booth gives farmers the opportunity to volunteer to inform and educate fair visitors about dairy farming. It's our way of connecting with consumers to hear what their questions and concerns are, and it gives consumers a chance to meet a dairy farmer face-to-face.

Young fair-goers spin the Moolette Wheel
What does a cow say? Where does milk come from? These were some of the questions I asked young fair-goers that stopped at the "Moolette Wheel" in the Moo Booth. I got a lot of questions about our farm, "How many cows do you have? Where do you live? Really, there is a farm that close to the city? Do you help milk the cows?" (120, Hastings, Yes, and Yes!)

Dave and I got the detectives started on their search.

After tending the Moolette Wheel, I also took a turn at the C.S.I. (Cow Scene Investigation) station. Here Dave Weinand, from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and I greeted folks to the Mooth Booth and handed out trivia question forms which were a list of questions about dairy. The answers could be found throughout the booth. After a little detective work the fair visitors brought the forms back for us to check and discuss their answers, and of course there were prizes! What a fun way to learn the basics of "cowology."
John discusses the milking process
 John spent his afternoon talking with visitors at the Milking Parlor. People were asking about how the drought is affecting farming. Others wanted to know the current milk price, and others asked questions about proper, safe handling of milk. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm consumers have for our products, and the concern they have for the farming industry. John also enjoyed the retired farmers that stopped by to reminisce a bit.

After our volunteer time, we headed straight to the Dairy Goodness Bar. Hannah Holstein voted for twist cones and neither John or I argued with that decision!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Minnesota's Newest Farm Hand

Hannah Holstein at the Minnesota State Fair
Day 3

Today Hannah Holstein became a "Little Farm Hand", probably the littlest Farm Hand! Our first destination at the Minnesota State Fair was the "Little Farm Hands" exhibit sponsored by Kemps. This interactive display walks "Little Farm Hands" and their families through the farming process beginning with purchasing the seed. Come along as Hannah experiences education and entertainment rolled into one exciting journey through the eyes of a farmer.
After buying seeds, Hannah drove her pedal tractor to plant them.
Hannah waited her turn to milk the cow.
After milking the cow, collecting eggs, picking apples and harvesting the garden, it was time for a rest with Farmer Charlie Brown. The last stop was the grocery store where we could spend some of our farm income. 

This entire experience is so much fun for the Little Farm Hands and all along the route there are kid friendly farm facts that even the moms and dads can learn from.

The best part of this exhibit is how much the families are learning about farming. The amount of knowledge farmers need and their dedication to their land and animals is very clear throughout the display. Thank you Kemps for giving the city folks a little taste of the country life!
Hannah wanted her picture taken with the Kemps State Fair cow.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hannah Holstein and 4-H

Jan judging 4-H demonstrations

Hannah Holstein at the Minnesota State Fair
Day 2

The 4-H program has always been a big part of my life. Back when I was 12 years old, I did my first Minnesota State Fair demonstration on Platform IV in the 4-H Building. "Color My World" was the demonstration title and I showed how to use different color schemes to decorate your home. I was nervous and excited at the same time. From that day forward I was hooked on demonstrating, so it is no surprise that I judge demonstrations at many County Fairs as well as the State Fair. This year Sara and I will judge 4-H demonstrations three days at the Minnesota State Fair. Come on Hannah Holstein, it's back to the fair. Yipee!

Hannah Holstein enjoyed Meghan's Peanut Butter Bars

Mary taught fair-goers how to raise calves

One of the benefits of judging is that we judges get to enjoy a delicious meal at the 4-H Dining Hall. The 4-H Building is affectionately called the 4-H Hilton, which I'm sure refers to the deluxe accommodations. Now that I recall my 4-H days, I don't think the 4-H Building has changed since I was twelve. The food is great however, and my niece Dena (L), who works at the fair, and Sara (R), topped off their meal with milk. They know that milk gives them protein and riboflavin which provides the energy they need to enjoy the great Minnesota State Fair!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hannah Holstein Goes To The Fair

Hannah Holstein with Fairchild the MN State Fair mascot

My A-Fair with fairs (see August 11, 2012 post) kicks into high gear this week as the Minnesota State Fair opens. For the next 12 days our family will make many trips to the Great Minnesota Get-together! Living only 20 minutes from the "A-Fair to Remember" allows us to visit often, and we take full advantage of every opportunity. I hope you can join us on our travels and adventures to the fair through My Barnyard View.

Sara and I often visit the Fair on opening day, but this year we brought along another Bremer Farm resident who has been begging to see what all the excitement is about. Hannah Holstein will be joining us on our fair visits, and since she is not camera-shy, you will see her in my photos. What a ham!

Princess Kay, Christine Reitsma getting her likeness carved in butter

Princess Kay and sculptor Linda Christensen and the finished masterpiece
Hannah waved at Princess Kay and her court at the daily parade

I hope you enjoyed your first glimpse at the Bremer's 2012 State Fair journal. Hannah Holstein sure had fun. She loved seeing Princess Kay and she even spoke with other fair-goers about my blog, and of course she reminded them to have their 3 servings of dairy each day to stay healthy. See you at the fair!

To learn more about the importance of dairy in your diet visit dairy makes sense

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hurrah for Princess Kay!

Mary Zahurones and Sculptor Linda Christensen at the 2011 MN State Fair
It is nearly time for the Great Minnesota Get-Together, the Minnesota State Fair! Tomorrow evening, August 22 at 8:30 PM the State Fair Band Shell will be host to the crowning of the 59th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Princess Kay is the official goodwill ambassador for the dairy industry of Minnesota, and will represent our states 4,300 dairy farmers. Mary Zahurones the 2011-2012 Princess Kay of the Milky Way will crown her successor. Our new Princess Kay will begin her reign by having her likeness carved from a 90 pound block of butter. This takes place in the rotating cooler in the Dairy building on the fairgrounds for all of us to watch. It takes about 4 hours to complete this masterpiece, so stop by if you're at the Fair. Each of the other 10 finalists will also get their likeness carved, one on each day of the fair. So if you can't be there on Thursday, August 23rd to see Princess Kay in the works, stop another day to see the finished buttery artwork.

How did these 11 finalists get chosen? My May 19, 2012 post, 60 Promising Princesses will explain the process. How will we know who is crowned the new dairy goodwill ambassador? You can attend the crowning, (it's free), or you can go to the Princess Kay Facebook page where the results will be shared from 8:30-9:30 as it happens!

Lastly, a HUGE thank you to Mary Zahurones for representing Minnesota's Dairy Farmers in royal style. You had a very busy year, but you never lost that beautiful smile and your wonderful eagerness to share the dairy story we are so proud of!

Monday, August 20, 2012

What's the BIG Deal?

What's the BIG deal?  "The news media keeps talking about the worst drought in 50 years, but it's green and lush here in my part of the world." This is the attitude many people may have in my area of Minnesota. We have not seen the severe drought conditions like many parts of the United States are experiencing. However we, as consumers, need to remember that our food doesn't just come from the "farm next door." Don't be deceived by the view outside your window. This drought will affect everyone. 

Dairy farmers are experiencing economic disaster. Based on a report by the USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service, dairy farmers lost 24 cents on every gallon of milk produced in May and June of this year. This is due to the severe drought and sky-rocketing feed and fuel costs.

What about the consumer? The effects of the 2012 drought will likely result in a significant increase in food prices for a period of time. Well, doesn't that mean more money for the farmer when the grocery prices go up? Dairy farmers do not set the price for their milk, and are therefore unable to pass along their expenses. Milk prices are set by the federal government once each month. Retail prices in your grocery store are determined by supply and demand.

Despite these conditions and challenges, we dairy farmers will continue to work hard and are dedicated to providing you with the best quality, nutritious products available! Now THAT'S a BIG deal!

Check out Midwest Dairy Association

Monday, August 13, 2012

One Thousand Thank You's

Blog writers, also known as bloggers, have access to statistics about their blog.  I began sharing My Barnyard View with you on May 12th, and on August 12th I had reached 1,000 views! That means my blog has been read one thousand times! 

Why do I write a blog? I enjoy writing and sharing my story. I was told many years ago by my high school English teacher, write what you know. That must have been one of the days I was paying attention in class because that tidbit of knowledge stayed with me. I know farming. I know we take good care of our animals. I know we take good care of our land. I know we are committed to providing you with safe, high quality milk and dairy products. I know I love life, both on and off the farm. 

If you have learned something about dairy or farming, tried one of my recipes, savored one of my adventures, or gotten a chuckle from My Barnyard View, I ask that you invite others to come along on the journey. Please share my blog address with them.

I thank all of you for joining me as I travel through News, Moos and Reviews. In celebration of one thousand page views, join me and my family in a milk toast, "Here's to another thousand views on My Barnyard View." I think I see a milk mustache!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I'm Having An A-FAIR!

My Jersey heifer Bonnie and I at the Washington County Fair - 1968
True confessions...I'm having an A-FAIR! It's a love A-FAIR with County Fairs! I think I have my parents to blame for this County Fair addiction. My mom and dad were superintendents of various departments at the Washington County Fair ever since I was a baby. Dad served as the chairman of the Fair Board for many years too. Washington County is also where I spent my 11 year 4-H career. After marrying John, my love A-Fair continued in Dakota County where Sara and Michael spent their many 4-H years and I served as a 4-H Leader. For nearly 30 years I have been staying connected to County Fairs by "working" as a judge for 4-H and open class exhibits and demonstrations at several fairs. There is too much to enjoy to refer to this as "work". I love staying connected to 4-H and County Fairs! Another true confession... I have passed on my addiction to Sara and Michael, as they also judge at County Fairs. 

After judging this week, I spent some time seeing some of my favorite sites at the Dakota County A-FAIR.

Dakota County Dairy Princesses Janna, Maggie, Beth

Ryan H. and his 4-H beef

Hannah L. and Abigail G. Youth-In-Action 4-H demonstration

In just 2 weeks I will begin judging 4-H demonstrations at the State Fair! True confessions...I have a love A-Fair with the Minnesota State Fair Too!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Santa Lives In Our Neighborhood

Santa lives in our neighborhood! He has traded in his sleigh for a Honda 4 wheeler, replaced his red suit with a plaid shirt and jeans, and even shaved off his beard, but I know he is Santa Claus. Just like children, we eagerly await his arrival in August. August? Yes, our Santa is named Bob and he delivers his home-grown sweet corn to family and friends. He grows it "for fun" to share with all of us. After many meals of fresh buttery corn on the cob, the remainder of our gift is frozen to enjoy year round.

12 dozen ready to be made into Buttery Frozen Corn
 Buttery Frozen Corn

10 cups corn (about 20 ears)
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Cut corn from cob. Do not 
blanche. Add butter, salt and sugar. Boil 3 minutes. Cool and package for freezer.

I read a tip in a magazine many years ago. It read to stand the ear of corn in the center cone of an angel food pan to easily cut off the kernels which then fall into the pan. I tweaked it slightly by standing the angel food "cone" in a large bowl, which is large enough to accommodate the 10 cups needed for this recipe. Do you have any kitchen tips to share? Please add them to the comments, for all of us to enjoy.

Sara and I added 15 quarts of corn to the freezer this morning. Guess what Santa Bob brought this afternoon? It's yellow and tasty...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Only God Can Make a Tree

by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
      THINK that I shall never see
      A poem lovely as a tree.
      A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
      Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
      A tree that looks at God all day,
      And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
      A tree that may in Summer wear
      A nest of robins in her hair;
      Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
      Who intimately lives with rain.
      Poems are made by fools like me,
      But only God can make a tree. 
      1958 - Bremer Farms is in need of trees
      In 1958, when my in-laws, Roy and Karen returned from their honeymoon, one of their first accomplishments on the farm they now shared with each other, was to plant trees. Roy suggested getting trees from the woods of the farm where he grew up. Four cedar trees were brought from father Bremer's farm and planted at the newly established Bremer Farms.

      Today, after 54 years, lightning struck one of our 30 feet tall cedar trees. The tree went down in an over-night storm. Our electricity also went down. Farmers need to be prepared in all types of emergencies, so we dusted off our alternator (an electric generator for producing alternating current) to begin milking. Milking usually begins at 6:00 each morning, but today it was nearly 11:00. Our motto, "expect the unexpected."