Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring fever



I was with some of my city-living friends recently and I mentioned my 'neighbors'.  They laughed and made jokes because my 'neighbors' aren't really that close to my house.

But really, we have the best neighbors - they're also our friends.  I took this picture from our neighbor Ashley's front yard.  Her tree is so beautiful every year, and Ashley and her family love seeing the cattle in the pasture like we do.

Also today our friend and neighbor-down-the-road Sharon posted this on Facebook:

"Friendly Neighbors make for Happy Cows and Exceptionally Cute Calves ---- It's true... just ask me! It's that time of year again. Some of the pregnant moms have been moved right next door! Some of them came up to the fence to say hello, how's the family, etc. Soon I'll be posting pics of cute little calves making their way into the world. LOVE this time of year! Stay tuned."

It's nice that the excitement is all around us!

Today we moved the calves from last year into the pasture for the first time ever in their lives.  I couldn't be there, so my mom took lots of video of them mooing, sprinting, and kicking.  We spent the afternoon watching them, since they're right in my backyard.  They'd tired themselves out and were lying down or butting heads, trying to decide who's boss.




I don't know if you've ever seen cattle do that, but it's just like you see on nature shows with pretty much any animal butting heads.  They just kind of neck-wrestle, then both wander away.  It's hard for me to tell who won.

It'll be a busy day on the farm tomorrow.  We're scouring the calf barn to ready for new calves, hauling manure to the fields, and moving more cattle.

And our neighbors will be around for it all.  Interested?  If you like a real cow moo as an alarm clock, there are a few houses for sale around here.


If you want to know more, you can like my farm page on Facebookfollow @carlashelley on twitter, or get the posts sent to your email by filling out the form on the right. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! 





Saturday, May 9, 2015

World's longest ice cream sundae in Nashville, MI


432 gallons of Mooville vanilla ice cream, 56 gallons of strawberries, 28 gallons of chocolate syrup, 72 cans of whipped cream, and 3,600 cherries to beat the Guinness world record for the longest ice cream sundae at 1800-feet long? 

How could I not go?   

So we went today to Nashville, MI, right on Route 66!  


My friends Leslie and Kyle Booher (Leslie was a volunteer) were there with their family.  Leslie purchased the spoons yesterday for us when they were one dollar - today they two dollars.  We'd arranged to meet up, but I had zero cell service there.  My dad said, "You just have to do it the way people used to do it."  He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled, "Leslie!"  We kind of laughed.  A couple of minutes later, Leslie saw me across the street and yelled, "Carla!"  We laughed even more.  The old fashioned way works perfectly.  


The ice cream came from MOO-ville Creamery in Nashville, MI.  The Westendorp family milks 200 cows with robots.  They bottle their own milk, make their own ice cream, cheese, yogurt, and butter, all under the MOO-ville logo.  They have their own store and tours.  Kris has been, but I haven't ... and I've never eaten MOO-ville ice cream.  But today was the day.

The MOO-ville trucks delivered the ice cream down Route 66 to the 200 8-foot long tables:


The 192 volunteers scooped and topped:


We cheered them on (my dad and Max inadvertently dressed like volunteers):



We readied our special color-changing spoons:


The siren went off, and we all dug in!


In a surprise to no one, the ice cream was fantastic.  Creamy, with all the ingredients perfectly melted on ... and record-breaking.  They sold 7,000-some spoons, and it didn't take long for it to be all gone.


There was so much, that people even had a chance to go back for more, if they wanted.  My son Cole said, "This was the best day ever, because you didn't say we couldn't have seconds."

Thank you, Nashville!  It was a fantastic day, and apparently one my boys won't soon forget.


If you want to know more, you can like my farm page on Facebookfollow @carlashelley on twitter, or get the posts sent to your email by filling out the form on the right. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Such a beautiful sight

             

Ah...the cows were already out on pasture, and today we put out the heifers!  Today Kris, Mike, and Josh painstakingly, doing seven at a time in our trailer, transported the heifers from the barn to the pasture across from our house.  Now there are over 100 out there!  

When they let them off from the trailer, they both were ready with dewormer, which they put on their backs.  They had definitely perfected it - undo fence.  Drive through.  Connect fence.  Undo trailer. Put dewormer on cows as they exit.  Undo fence.  Drive through.  Put seven more heifers from barn into trailer. 

I love having them across the road.  It's one of my favorite sights.  

Here's from my parents' house ...





Even though they're all some sort of Holstein, they look very different.  We have all white ones -


We have Dalmatian-type ones -


We have a lot of black and white -


And we have the black/brown/whites!  Seriously, look at those colors.


I can't stop looking!  This is one of my favorite sights - from my yard.  It's finally pasture season.



I was just looking at these pictures with Kris and asked him, "Do you have a favorite kind of cow?" He said, "Yes!  The ones that milk a lot."


If you want to know more, you can like my farm page on Facebookfollow @carlashelley on twitter, or get the posts sent to your email by filling out the form on the right. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Preschool conversation reports

From a preschool mom ...

"Max's mom came to our class today.  She's a dairy farmer."

"Oh, how was it?"

"She showed us her udders."

"What?!"

(He meant milkers.)



****

From another preschool mom after the field trip ...

"My son wants to come live with you.  I was putting him to bed and he said, "I want to live at Max's farm."  I said, "Well, who will tuck you in?" thinking this would make him think about missing us. He said, "I'm sure Max's mom would do it."





If you want to know more, you can like my farm page on Facebookfollow @carlashelley on twitter, or get the posts sent to your email by filling out the form on the right. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The cows are out ... on pasture!



It's so exciting to let the cows out on pasture for the first time in the spring.  I called my mom ... the boys and I went over ... and the cows were super loud in the barn!  They knew.  They'd seen people in the field getting ready all day.  

Part of having the cows out on the field is making sure that they have a close water source.  They drink the equivalent of a bathtub full of water a day.  (Which sounds ridiculous and makes me thirsty.)

Our water tanks are made of cement, and like all cement, sometimes they crack and leak.  Kris was looking at the patching with Ty, and then the boys started trying to fix it right away.  They built rock and dirt dams.  It didn't staunch the flow much, but I liked their attempt.  We're going to look at plastic liners next.



Then it was time!  We opened the gates and the cows came running out!

Kris, do you hear something behind you?
They ran, ran, ran!  All of these are pregnant cows.  They're dried up, which means we're not milking them until they have calves - right out here in the pasture.  (For more on drying up, read here.)



 They stopped as soon as they came down the lane and started eating.


It's so nice to see the cows on pasture.  The green grass, the blue sky, the 70 degree weather - all perfect pasturing and spring weather.

We had another sign of spring, too!  Our team member Adam brought back out the U Mad Bro tank top!  He faithfully wore this shirt all last summer.  His dedication made my boys love that shirt and they all now have one.  I didn't get them - Santa did.



So, it's spring, the cows are out (in the only good way possible), and no one's mad - it's one of the happiest times of year on the farm.


If you want to know more, you can like my farm page on Facebookfollow @carlashelley on twitter, or get the posts sent to your email by filling out the form on the right. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Preschool tour, school trip, and planting!


Has a kid ever looked more excited (or fashionable) on a farm?  No!  This little darling is also a daughter of a dairy farmer, which is sometimes what you get when you go on field trips!

We hosted our son's preschool field trip.  I well remember taking a field trip to our farm when I was in school, and now my son got to do the same.  He was SO excited.

Having a dairy farm isn't the most rare thing around here ... two other kids in the class also have dairies (and others have farms)!  My friend Britney told me her son asked, "Well, are we going to our farm tomorrow?"  


But, just like farmers like to see other farms, even the farm kids were super excited to go see another one.

They pushed feed in the calf barn and let the calves lick them ...




We took a ride on a wagon full of straw bales and straw to the other barns.  I'd say 'hayride', but Max corrected me.  There was not hay on the wagon.  Hay is green, and generally alfalfa or grass that cows eat.  Straw is wheat that is yellow, that is generally soft and used as bedding.  But 'strawride' doesn't quite have the same ring to it!



We saw the big cows in the free stall barn ...


Wore appropriate hats ...




And learned how the milk parlor works.



At the end, they climbed around on the chopper, tractors, and the dirt pile.



There was even one cat around that provided endless entertainment.


They all left with a GoGurt and a goody bag filled with fun dairy-related items.  Bracelets, coloring books, stickers, clips - just to remind them of their day.


Later in the day we did the second class, and none of them were from a farm!  The kids and the parents had lots of questions, and it was fun as always.  Preschooler questions are my favorite.  I asked it anyone had any, and many kids raised their hands.  Their questions?

1. I like Dalmatians.

2. I like cats.

3. My grandpa has a farm and I went there and I got to go on the tractor.

YES!  Is there anything better than preschooler question/statements?  No!  Just like everyone, they want to share and talk about what interests them.  It was a great day, and I'm so glad they came!

***

If you can't all come to the farm, the farm will also come to you!  Last week the librarian at my other sons' school asked me to come and do a dairy lessons for all the classes.  Again, it's such a good time to talk to all of the different classes and see what their interests are.  


For instance, some of my favorite questions were ...

1. If a cow came out a different color than black and white, would you still keep it?

2. When milk comes out of the cow, is it warm?

3. Does anyone drink STRAIGHT from the cow?

4. When a cow brings up her cud again, does she actually throw up?

5.  How does the calf get into the cow ... is there a bull involved?




It's always a great time to talk with these fresh, young minds!  They're always so eager to discuss and so willing to listen.  I'm sure bringing along inflatables, cow models, and milkers doesn't hurt either. Thank you to the school for the opportunity!

***

Meanwhile, back to the farm - we started planting corn today!  Such an exciting time of the year!

Kris rode with our planter (we pay him to plant our corn) and he was marveling at the technology of the planter.

It's all run off of GPS, so you only have to steer on the turns.  He has an overlay of the field, so where the ground is lighter, it plants fewer seeds, so that the soil has enough nutrients to support the plant. Where the soil is better, it plants more seeds, because the soil has the capability to yield more.

The planter can also sense how deep the seed needs to go.  When there's light ground, it presses hard, and when there's heavy ground, it presses harder.  Kris and I talked about it for a long time - all of the amazing technological advances there are in planting compared to even when we were growing up.

Part of this is why we pay our planter.  He has all the latest and greatest and we're glad to be able to benefit from it!

So here's to technology, planting ... and all the kids who are going to be doing this someday!


If you want to know more, you can like my farm page on Facebookfollow @carlashelley on twitter, or get the posts sent to your email by filling out the form on the right. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

My son asked, 'Why is the cat all wet?" Mystery solved.


My son asked, "Why is the cat all wet?"  Mystery solved.

My son asked, "Why is the cat all wet?"
Posted by Truth or Dairy on Sunday, April 19, 2015