Saturday, July 26, 2014

Farm fashion: 6 classic styles for the barn!

It was hopping today on the farm!  Lots of giant equipment was here.  We were harvesting the wheat, chopping a field of grass, and fertilizing pastures all at the same time.  Max, watching all the huge machines roll by, was in heaven.

Seeing all the guys in their work clothes made me think about farm fashion.  When I wrote the 5 Myths About Farmers, some friends told me they did know an uncle or someone (old) who actually did wear overalls.  This was foreign to me.  I honestly have never seen someone in overalls on a real, working farm.  (I've seen coveralls, but to me that's different.)

So I started looking around at what people were wearing on farms.  So here it is!  Farm fashion.

1. Sleeves cut off t-shirts, jeans, and work boots.

When the Peterson Brothers' videos became popular, I saw they were wearing sleeves cut off t-shirts, hats, jeans, and work boots ... and I noticed that our young guys wore the exact same outfit.  Until then, I hadn't noticed - it was a uniform!  This was the official farming young guys' clothing!  (This cuts down on the farmer's tan, too.)  Though I was just in Lake Michigan with two farmers, and they had feet that glowed white.  You just can't get away with flip flops to go along with the sleeveless shirts.

2.  Ripped jeans.

Oh, I think back to the days when people didn't have denim to work in.  How many more injuries they must have gotten!

The jeans don't rip from just wear.  They rip for a variety of reasons - a drill, catching on your jeans, and saving your skin ...

(Look how excited Ty is to see Kris' ripped open jeans!)

... or getting caught on a fence while on the 4-wheeler!

Kris washes and wears just a few pairs of jeans.  After the latest rip, he asked me to go and buy some for him at Tractor Supply Company.  He wrote down what kind he wears.  I bought them, but they were a different 'fit.'  I took them back.  They didn't have the size of the kind he wanted.  He said they rarely do - they're always out.  All the other farmers apparently wear the same size, brand, and fit!

3.  Rubber boots

Rubber boots, with tennis shoes worn inside them, are what my dad and Kris have always worn.  I associate rubber boots with dairy farms.  They're so practical, and the only way to keep your feet dry on a farm.  They last a long time, but not forever.  They eventually rip - just like the jeans.

4. Old shirts and hats

Kris here is sporting a hat and a shirt from Caterpillar - the company he worked for seven years ago!  But you're not going to wear nice shirts to work ... seven year old ones are all soft, the hats fit right ... great for a day on the farm.  With his t-shirt, jeans, rubber boots, and hat, Kris is a perfect example of farm wear.

In fact, I was teaching swimming lessons last week and I looked up, startled that Kris was home at an unusual time.  No - it wasn't him!  It was a swimming lesson father, dressed in this exact outfit.  He also works on a dairy farm - surprise!

5.  Boots, shorts, and a tank top that makes you think

Summer is hot.  It's nicer to wear shorts than jeans, and that's what some of the guys wear.  (Some never do.  Kris said he could never wear shorts at work.)  But what we all love about Adam's summer wear is the eternal question, "U MAD BRO?"

Again, there's no point in wearing good work clothes, so Adam has been sporting this tank top on the hot days.  We all LOVE it.  My boys say it all the time.  It's turned into a catchphrase in our home.  We're all going to be sad when summer is over for a lot of reasons ... the pool is closed, we have schedules ... and we're not going to be able to ask the question of the season.  (Let's hope he brings out something as philosophical for the fall line.)

6.  No shirt, no service

Now we know what the workers are wearing, but what about the people who are there all the time - doing little work?

For them, it's no shirts.  I was flipping through some pictures from the summer and trying to pick out a nice family picture of us.  In every single picture, my kids aren't wearing shirts.  None of them have voluntarily worn a shirt in their entire lives.  In fact, they have been wearing a uniform of swimsuits and no shirts since mid-May.  Sometimes they throw the boots in too.


So next time you're on a farm, see what the people are wearing.  Boots?  Hats?  Jeans with rips in them?

What will our boys be wearing by the time they're really working on the farm?  I'm not great at predicting trends, but this one seems easy.

They'll be wearing overalls with no shirts underneath.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Farm tours

Every summer, we have a ton of visitors.  Granddaughters of friends, neighbors, friends, friends of friends, and family.  We love showing people the farm!

Our cousins came to visit and my cousin's boyfriend made this great video.  He has a little GoPro camera (which even takes video underwater) and made this of our day on the farm.  It captures a lot of the cute little scenes you get to see on a farm with kids, cows, and calves.

As for us ... Kris has been putting in some serious hours!  He leaves the house at 5:45 a.m. and gets home around 10:30 p.m. where he can enjoy a fresh, gourmet meal prepared by his chef-like wife.  Or, really, he warms up whatever I made the boys five hours previously for their dinner.

What is he doing, you may ask?  Well, he's helping cows have calves, taking care of calves, feeding, pushing up feed, and recently, they also harvested the alfalfa for the second time this summer.  Besides that, there's the regular herd care of giving them vaccinations, taking care of any that need special attention, and working with the rest of the team (milking, calf care, feeding) to make sure everything goes smoothly.  Plus, my family has been visiting, so he's been making time to hang out with them!

We do get away for things like golfing, or spending an afternoon with the boys, and we got to spend a lot of time with our families on July 4th.  Again, this is thanks to great employees and my dad!

Probably our best night out was when we spent two hours at AT&T trying to switch to them from Verizon.  (We can't complete a call in our home or on our farm any longer.)  Two hours later ... they still hadn't switched us over, due to the longest process in the entire world.  We gave up.  Let me tell you - when you get a night out that's exactly how you want to spend it.

So, that's our July here.  Calves, alfalfa, family, and fun.  Enjoy the video and your summer days!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Twin calves born!

She was watching her first twin, and right as I walked up, she laid down to deliver twin number two.

The calf was born so quickly!

She looked at her newest calf ...

Started cleaning the calf off ...

But her first twin kept trying to stand up, and she couldn't stay away from her, either!

I never get tired of watching cows have calves.  We've been averaging 12 a day, so there are lots of chances!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A nice little Saturday

I took the boys to the Family Fun at the Farm event in Clinton County - and it was great!  Not only could you tour two farms - a calf raising operation and a dairy farm - but there were a variety of activities. To name a few ...

Feeding a calf
Cow bouncy house
Put your hand in the box and guess what crop you're feeling
Movies about both of the farms
A veterinarian and her truck for ask-a-vet
Signs explaining everything
Farm equipment like combines to climb on
A pretend cow to milk
Free food and ice cream
A book barn with ag-related books 
Corn box to play in
Tractor rides

There were also tons of volunteers that were available to direct you and answer all questions. It was so fun at Sonrise Farm and Cook Dairy Farm.  If you didn't get to go ... here's your virtual tour!  

As well as having people there, there were signs at all the stations explaining about the operations.

Have a seat on a bale to watch interviews with the farmers about their businesses.

Tractor-pulled trolleys for transporting people from the parking lot:

The calf raising operation uses automatic calf feeders for their calves.  Cool technology.

 Whenever I see a truck like this, I know it's a vet.  But I didn't know that before I moved here!

Put your hand in and guess ... soybeans, alfalfa ...

Cute calves!

The volunteer told the boys, "Perfect form!"  I felt forced to tell him this wasn't their first time.

Book barn:

Corn box:

Off to see Kris in the parlor!

They only milked on one side of the parlor so visitors could stand and watch from the other side.  Eating ice cream in a parlor?  Totally makes sense.

Huge equipment to climb on!  Max never wanted to leave this part.

Milking the pretend cow ... I think I'm going to take this to schools.  It's so memorable.

Just a few of the sponsors on the t-shirt.

Another great event, another way to expose people to agriculture.  Thank you, Family Fun at the Farm committee!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Butterscotch bread pudding

My butterscotch bread pudding recipe was featured on the 'Go Bold with Butter' page.

Making food in general?  For me, it's sometimes okay, most of the time tedious.  But baking?  It has a whole different feel to it.  Baked goods are pretty, fun to make, and people love to eat them.

Here's the recipe and my post on their page:  Go Bold with Butter.


I just sat down at the computer to post when I saw heifers out my window, running down the road.  I sprinted outside while calling Kris to help - he and my dad were already on the way.

We quickly got them back in, but it took some fast running on my part to keep up with them and get them back in the right place.

The fence wasn't working, so my dad went to check on it while Kris and I stood by the fence, looking at the heifers and talking.

"Regular running down the road is fine," I told Kris, since I'm recovering from a knee injury and already ran a couple miles today.  "But sprinting after cattle?  That hurts."

"But only one of those is practical!" Kris said, laughing.

I'm icing my knee right now after my cattle sprint.  I've got to be hefiers-are-out recovered!

Monday, May 26, 2014

How do you take care of a new calf?

Calves on our farm are born out in the pasture.  We calve seasonally, which means all of them give birth in the spring and summer.  That way, they can have them outdoors while the weather is still nice for little calves.

Our second calf was born today!  After Kris picked her up, he took her to the calf barn to bed her down with lots of straw.  Then he got iodine to clean off her belly button.  

He then got colostrum from the mother in the milk parlor and poured it into a calf bottle.

Look at that foam!

While he warmed up the milk ...

He cleaned her belly button.

Then it was time to feed the sleepy calf.

After she was full, the boys helped take everything back into the milk room to wash up.

There are lots of bottles to wash when you have tons of calves ... the dishwasher is ready!  (I know people who enjoy washing dishes.  I'm not that person.  We're a big fan of the dishwasher.)

 Kris gets lots of help from our team and our boys ...

See the background?  All of them are pregnant!  We're ramping up for a busy calving season!  

 Quiz questions!  For extra fun, ask these of the person next to you who didn't just read this.

1. True or False.  When calves are born, farmers bed them down with hay.

2. What do farmers commonly use to clean calves' belly buttons?

3. In mammals, what is a mother's first milk called?

Scroll down for answers ...





If you answered 1. False (straw), 2. Iodine, and 3. Colostrum - congrats!  Come on over and help with some calves!  That dishwasher is nice, but everything around here isn't near as automatic.