Farming

Become a better dairy shopper…here’s how…

Submitted by Susan Anglin – My first Guest Blogger!!!! I’m so excited…can you tell??

I’m delighted to introduce Susan Anglin of Anglin Farms and The Spotted Cow Review.  She is such an inspiration and motivator in the dairy industry.  These are trying times for dairy farmers and Susan works hard to keep everyone going.  My favorite quote from her blog:

“Faith, family, farm–my life is full of truth, treasures, and transitions.”  So true.  And without further ado…

Dairy Shopping Tips

American consumers are enjoying the safest and most available food supply in the world, but it does come with increasing cost. As a dairy farmer and a consumer, I am concerned with the rising price of oil and what it is costing us on the farm and at the grocery store. It would be logical to think when the price of milk goes up at the grocery store that dairy farmers are making more money. Unfortunately, the dairy farmers are not putting more money in their pockets. The final price that we pay at the grocery store includes the increased fuel costs in transportation, packaging, and distribution of the product. Here are a few tips to remember when stretching your food dollars and shopping for dairy foods:

  • All packaged milk is safe and antibiotic free
  • Generic or store brands are usually cheapest but have same nutritional value as name brands
  • Check the date when purchasing; the date on the package is the last date for the store to sell it; milk stays fresh 5-7 days after being opened
  • Store milk at 36-40 degrees
  • Buy milk by the gallon
  • Buy low-fat, plain yogurt by the quart, flavor it yourself and use it as an ingredient for healthier recipes
  • Buy cheese in block form and shred it yourself

You can find more information about dairy nutrition and the added value of dairy to your diet at http://www.dairymakessense.com/ and http://www.midwestdairy.com/.  Do you have any other dairy shopping tips to share?

Thank you very much Susan!!  Please follow Susan at her Blog “The Spotted Cow Review” at www.anglindairy.net.   I met Susan at the iBlog conference this past fall and had a ball sharing stories with her and the other gals.  I even overlooked the fact that she doesn’t milk Jerseys…the very best breed!!  That’s hard for me to do! ;0)

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Dirt Boy World

You might have read on our  Fall To-do list that one of our projects is running water and electricity down to our sheds.  Although we had hoped to do it two weekends ago the trencher we needed wasn’t available until last weekend.   It was like having a very expensive babysitter.  With the soft dirt and deep trenches, there were some great adventures to be had.  As you can see below, the boys had a blast with the dirt…

My hubby sat there like he was someone important or something...well, I guess he is...I sure as heck couldn't trench and pull the wire. I helped feed the wire but my wimpy little arms aren't strong enough for pulling wire!

Willis made himself a seat on the hill...reminded me of my childhood when my brother & I would try to dig to China.

"We're not eating the dirt mama....really, just the worms!"

Pickle is searching for more "treasures".

Happy Diggin’ Boys!!  And, I’m NOT frying any worms!! LOL!


The Great Grain Truck Incident of 2010

We are on a roll!  Literally!  Harvest is in full swing around Illinois.  Despite a minor break down this evening, my father-in-law anticipates being done with corn tomorrow.  He was one of the first to start in our area.  Since my husband’s uncle retired, Paw-Paw has had an extra hand.  Prior to that my hubby would always drive the combine while Paw-Paw or Granny drove the grain trucks to town.

We’ve also been on a roll when it comes to major incidents.  Two years ago, my hubby’s cousin was driving the combine.  He likes to drive and dump at the same time.  Not my cup of tea, but I’m not in charge.  Well, as he motioned Granny down with her grain truck he stopped and changed his mind…this led to a change in approach…which led to the combine backing up…which led to Granny needing to get out of the way.  The whole concept would have worked dandy.  If only his cousin knew that the grain truck had died and Granny was struggling with getting it re-started.  CRUNCH!!  He ran over the front end of the truck.  Luckily no one was hurt but the grain truck.  That was the Great Grain Truck Incident of 2008.

Then there was last year.  It was a record year.  There were several people in our area who never even harvested until spring.  The rain was awful.  Instead of planting in mid-April, we had a monsoon season which set back planting to the first week of Jun.  Even so, he had fantastic yields!  Except in one of the fields.  My hubby’s uncle was driving the combine and hadn’t noticed the smoke coming from below.  That was the least of his problems.  It was the fire that was dropping from below that had everyone’s attention.  For an entire round he was dropping corn stocks which had caught on fire.  Put two and two together and you have an 80 acre field a blaze.  The fire department was called and they were able to successfully put out the fire in the field and the fire under the combine.  Had there not been so much rain, the damage to the combine would have been much worse.  So there you have the Great Combine Incident of 2009.

It’s a new year, a new decade!  The pressure was on to top 2008 & 2009’s incidents.  I won’t forget the moment I received the text from my brother-n-law.  At first I was confused and couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing.  The scenery looked familiar but I just couldn’t place the location of the picture.  I called him for an explanation.  As my father-n-law approached town he goes down a slight slope which continues ever so gently until you reach the stop sign.  It was at the slope he realized he had a problem.  There were no brakes.  Luckily, the stop sign was a ‘T.’  Unfortunately, there was a house, telephone poles, chain linked fence, phone box, a car and a gravel driveway.  He was able to manuver between the telephone pole and car. 

Just missed the phone box and landed in the gravel and eventually into the chain linked fence.  Did I mention he was fully loaded and on his way to the elevator?  See the corn falling?

He’s thanking his lucky stars for that gravel.  The truck sunk in almost 3 feet.  The semi-tractor tow truck even had difficulty getting it out.  I’m very thankful he wasn’t hurt but even more thankful that one of the kids was riding with him.  Before the elevator closed my brother was able to drive over and fix the brake.  The rest of the load arrived safe & sound at the elevator.  It just needs a new headlight.  And, the homeowners need a new fence.

So, THAT was the Great Grain Truck incident of 2010.  I wonder what will happen next year?  Oh, and by the way, it was the same grain truck which was run over in 2008.  Poor thing, just can’t get a ‘break’!

The end.


Reality Strikes

For the benefit of my kids I try to keep track of the day and date.  Usually the day of the week more than the date.  The weekend is when Daddy is home so the days of the week are important.

Today reality hit like a lightening bolt.  This is the last week at home with my kids before school starts.  My mom called and asked if they could spend the night during the week before school starts.  I said “Sure!”  And, as any mom would, I brought out my calendar that I briefly look at once or twice a week (sorry FlyLady!)  That’s when it hit.  We leave for State Fair a week from tomorrow.  It’s our annual workcation at the Illinois State Fair where we show our beautiful Jerseys! The choices for a sleepover with Grandma were bleak but we’ve managed to set a date.

And, now I’m sitting here in shock, reviewing all of the goals I had set for our summer.  Where did the time go?  I wanted to paint the shed, finish painting the porch, paint the bathroom, sand and paint our welcome fence, sanding and re-staining a new/re-used dining room table, sew curtains for the kitchen, canning, taking the kids to the pool on a regular basis – I BOMBED on that one.

I managed to get the kids to swim lessons every morning for two weeks, we took a day trip to the St. Louis Zoo, Pickle went to Cub Scout camp & several weeks of baseball, Willis went to VBS.  But none of my other goals were accomplished.  I wonder why??  Oh, that’s right, I have three kids who are boys and Mount Washmore waiting at the steps of my mudroom.  That’s Life!

I need to plan something special for this week…off to look for ideas.

Happy Tuesday!


Our First Heat Related Fatality

Like much of the country, we’ve been under a heat advisory off and on for several weeks.  Yesterday, the heat index topped out at 108.    Around noon I drove the mower down to the sheds to check on water levels.  The chickens are panting and walking around with their wings open but everyone was alive and well.  I went around the fence checking for weeds that might be grounding out the electric fence.  I stopped once and pulled a few then headed to the house.  Just in that short amount of time, without any physical exertion, my clothes could have be wrung out and the sweat poured into a tall glass.

When I went down in the evening I started as usual by first feeding the steers their milk buckets.  While they slurp their supper I walk fast to get their feed ready.  As I started to get the feed out I noticed one of the chickens laying in front of the nesting boxes. When it’s hot they tend to dig themselves a little hole in the ground and sit with their breasts in the dirt in an effort to to cool off – although in front of the boxes was an unusual place.  Without a clear view I was uncertain of what was going on and had a bad feeling about things.  At that point, with all the milk devoured,  the calves were attacking me.  I got them under control so I could enter the chicken side of the shed.  Instead of laying breast down the chicken was on it’s side and dead.  I picked it up and managed to get myself out of the pen before being mugged.  It was one of my hubby’s grandma’s birds so it was probably fairly old.  I’m just glad it wasn’t a young one!

I brought it out of the shed and started to walk out of the pen when Willis saw it.  Here was the conversation…

Willis: What are you doing with that chicken mom?

Me: Well, honey, it died so I need to get it out of the shed.

Willis exclaims with joy:  Oh, good, can we eat it now??

Such a sensitive child…NOT.

Try to stay cool where ever you all are located & drink plenty of water!


A Revolving Door

If I could describe the last two weeks I would start by saying it’s been a roller coaster revolving door.  Almost two weeks ago Miss Terry and Lona left us and are now living happily on another Jersey farm in northwest Iowa.  My father-in-law decided that although they both have great potential as ‘milk cows,’ after the time they’ve spent here on our grass pasture, they weren’t shaping into the showgirls he desired.

Then my hubby’s grandmother – who at age 85 was still raising chickens 50+ and 3 ducks on the farm – passed out and fell on her bathroom floor.   Although there are neighbors and relatives who keep a watch on her, she laid on the floor for over 6 hrs before someone realized her paper had not been taken in.  Other than being severely dehydrated, she seemed to be fine.  Even so, it was decided that she needed to be moved to an assisted living facility where she could be checked on regularly.

We knew this day/period of time would come and have dreaded it for years.  She is a hoarder and that experience requires it’s own post.  The last two weekends have been spent camping on the farm and helping separate garbage from keepsakes.  In addition to the chickens and ducks she also has two dogs.  One of which is a keepsake to her and she asked if we could keep her – the other I’m contemplating asking my DH if we can keep her too.   We were also offered our choice of chickens.  At the end of our first, four day camping trip we arrived home with a new dog named Nicki (also a Rat Terrier) and six laying chickens.  (Our own chickens aren’t due to start laying until Oct.)

We started out on our 55 min. drive home when my FIL calls.  He has a buddy who’s selling two Jersey/Angus crossed bred calves.  Would we be interested?  At that point I was exhausted and said “sure whatever.”  I did express that they need to be bucket calves.  So we arrived home, dumped everything we’d packed in the truck and off went my hubby.  An hour later we increased our herd to three calves.

That night I had a Cub Scout Leader’s meeting in a neighboring town.  We were about half way through when I got the call.  It was my hubby…”Are you done yet? (in the background I hear ballowering calves)” “Well, no, why?”  “I can’t get these things to drink out of a bucket for anything!!”  Exit meeting.

So I drove 20 min. to the in-laws farm, picked up two bottles and we are now bottle feeding two mighty, strong calves morning and night.  At first it was a chore but I’m now enjoying our time together.  They are super cute!!

To re-cap…at the end of our first trip we added a dog, six chickens and two calves.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  After doing chores now for two weekends at Grandma’s, I was starting to notice three chickens who looked like good egg producers.  After a 10 min. fight we caught two of the three and gave up.  My hubby had been contemplating taking the three Call ducks.  So we brought home two more chickens and three ducks.  The ducks have since gone missing.  : (  I still have hope that they’ll show up.  The area outside of the pasture is pretty thick timber so there’s places to hide.  Time will tell.

We and all of the animals are slowing getting adjusted and I think the revolving door has stopped…at least for now!  The chickens even laid 3 eggs today!


Boys and mud

These are two words that go hand in hand around The Magic FarmHouse.  If there’s mud, my boys will find it.  Especially Willis.  When he was just about two we caught him preparing to eat an earthworm.  Ick!  Although he didn’t try to eat a worm, the other day he did find some mud.  It started out as a trip to the shed to show the new calf to their cousins.

Down to the shed...

Here’s a pic of the new calf.  He looks really cute but don’t let that fool you.  Although he is a bucket calf and has been weaned from the bottle, he has a strong desire to suck (not unusual).  Entering the pen without jeans is not recommended. The boys have started calling him Coo-Coo Brains.

Willis and "Coo-Coo brains"

Anyway, after introducing Coo-Coo Brains the boys wanted to chase the ducks up to the pool for a little swim.  This is where the mud comes into today’s story.  We got the ducks to the pool and Willis I guess became bored and decided to entertain himself.

Camo, Mac and BB going for a swim.

Camo, Mac and BB going for a swim.

Caught! Mud handed!

This was only the beginning and due to a commitment to my baby I was unable to catch anymore shots of the Mud Fest.   I was able to snap a portion of the cleanup.

Redneck washing machine...

Redneck washing machine.

All clean?!

Clothes off at the door boy!