Monday, April 29, 2013

Podcast, producing, product

This weekend Kris and I were guests on Kerry Nobis' podcast - The Postmodern Farmer.  His brother Mitch is the producer.  Here we are in his professional sound studio!
They are funny guys and we had a good time.  I'll post the episode when it's online. 
Mitch, Carla, Kris, Kerry
Back on the farm ... two more calves born today.  One heifer, one bull.  I tried to see one being born, but I got there right after she had it.  I wasn't mad, since this is the first of very, very many.  I'll save my anger for later in the year when I'm marveling at how few I've seen.
And one last note - all five of us eat at least one yogurt a day.  Kris and I are not fans of the bulk size yogurt containers.  As a result, this is what our fridge looks like at all times, since I buy yogurt on every trip:
Good thing we have a farm.  We might be our own best customers.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Milking a pretend cow

It's hard bringing a real, live cow into schools.  So dairy people - in this case, Debbie Kubacki - have built these nifty pretend cows so that kids can get an idea of what milking one is like.
For this event, dairy farmers Heather Wing, Evelyn Minnis, and I went to the Health and Fitness Day at Hilton Elementary School in Brighton.  We taught them all about dairy - the health aspect, about dairy products, the journey from the cow to the store, and how to milk!
Alex Schnabelrauch, who works for MMPA, organized it all.  We had dairy cootie catchers, cow fact sewing, free milk and Gogurts, gift bags ... one kid said it was the best day of his life.  (To be fair, he has only lived six years.)
The entire school had a chance to milk the cow and ask questions.  It was so much fun talking to them, as few of them had ever milked a cow or even met a farmer.
An udder made of a water tank and calf bottle tips

I told them to pretend they were machines or it was the olden days, since modern farmers don't milk by hand.

She has a map of Michigan painted into her spots too.  She was wildly popular.

Questions I was asked:

- "Are all farmers fat?"

He explained that farmers are always fat in cartoons. That was good, because he asked that right after I explained that I was a farmer. This also made me laugh because a friend recently asked me, "Are all male farmers good looking?"

- "Aren't their gutters really in the middle of their stomachs?"

He meant udders - kids commonly make that switch - and he thought that because in some cartoon drawings the udders are in the center of the cow.

- "How does the milk get to be chocolate?"

The boy was staring at his drink and just really wanted to understand how it all worked. You could almost see the gears turning in his head.

- "Do other mammals give milk? Like ... people?"

Yes. Ask your parents.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

First heifer calf!

Our first heifer calf of the year was born today!

And she's apparently spirited, too!  Kris and I were in our yard playing baseball with the boys - it was a beautiful, warm day - when a woman stopped.  She told us she saw a calf in the field across from the cows.  Usually they stay closer to their mothers, so this was unusual.

The five of us piled into Kris' truck to go get the calf.  Right away our milker and neighbor Dave called and said he could see the calf from his house.  He and his sons picked her up and met us at the barn.

Dave said, "This isn't going on the internet, is it?" I assured him it was.

We fixed her up a bed of fresh straw and told her hello.

Headed in for a nap

Max said, "Hi cow!" in the same voice he uses to talk to babies.

The welcoming committee

She'd had a long walk.  She mooed very loudly, probably because she was hungry.  Kris found her mother, took her into the parlor to be milked, and fed her a bottle of her mother's colostrum.

Welcome to our farm!  Hopefully this year's calves are just as healthy ... and stay a little closer to home. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cooking with bloggers

United Dairy Industry of Michigan put on a great event yesterday!  They invited Michigan bloggers to take part in a dairy-centered cooking class at Ann Arbor Cooks. 
First while we enjoyed appetizers, the chefs demonstrated what we were going to do.  So funny - this was exactly what I was going to be preparing for dinner at home!  (Right.)

Notice the bloggers tweeting and taking pictures.  It's nice to be around people who don't mind!

Then we got our own materials and started in ... with much joking and laughing.  We were all assigned to different parts of the meal.
Spring chop salad with buttermilk ranch dressing ...

Cauliflower soup and four-cheese macaroni and cheese ...

Creamy garlic mashed potatoes and pork ...

My part involved cutting up potatoes (at which I have much practice) and preparing a pork loin (at which I have zero experience.)

We sliced off the pork loin's silver skin, which we had collectively never heard of, put bacon on it, and tied it up with string, so it would all stay together and cook evenly.  (Or so it wouldn't escape.)

We hung out and talked, and then it was time to eat our beautiful meal. 
And finished with a salted caramel pots de crème with whipped cream and sea salt, which was heavenly.
As we cooked and ate, we talked about dairy farming and issues in food today.  Like I was asked:
Do I drink raw milk?  No.
Are there antibiotics in milk?  No.
Are there artificial hormones in our milk?  No. 
Are people trying to sneak sweeteners in milk?  No.
Do you buy organic milk?  No.  I like to buy milk where ours is sold.     
Of course our conversations were longer and chattier than that, but that's just to give you an idea of the topics of the evening. 
Cooking with dairy was an enjoyable night, with interesting people, and good time overall!  Thank you so much to the bloggers who took the time to come.  It was fun talking shop with you! 

Want more?  There are lots of ways to stay connected with Michigan dairy news.  You know, besides just my site.

Creek over the banks

I thought it was a lot of rain the other day when we had a raging river ... now, the creeks are over their banks!  This is the first time I've ever seen this happen.  THAT'S a lot of rain.

Expect me to update this post with more 'highest ever' declarations when the water reaches the bottom of our house. Really, I'm glad my ancestors settled on high ground.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Young Farmers in Frankenmuth

Yesterday Kris and I went to the Young Cooperators Conference for Michigan Milk Producers Association in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Could be Germany, could be pseudo-Germany!
This is my fourth time going to the conference, but this year, we helped plan and execute it!  We had a great time listening to the speakers, going on the farm tour, and - best of all - socializing with all the other young farmers. 

On our farm tour, we went to Rainbow Creek Dairy, a farm with four robot milkers.  (For my previous post all about how robot milkers work, go here.)  Basically, the cows enter the robot, which cleans and milks them without any human interaction. 

They took off the side panels to show us all the inner workings of the robot.

Could be a robot milker, could be under my car's hood
The farm also uses waterbeds in their free stalls.  Some farms use sawdust, some mattresses, some sand ... there are many options for cow comfort.  Here they had a sample:

Kris had a waterbed when he was growing up.  He said this felt the same. 
And they also use automatic feed pushers.  Every day in barns people have to push the feed toward the cows.  (As they eat it they push it away a little.  So then farmers use a skid steer or shovel or broom or some tool to push it toward them until it's all eaten.)  The automatic feed pushers work like Roombas - they continually go along the feed rail and push the feed toward the cows.  When its battery needs charging, it goes back to its charger.

They also gave us milk and cookies at the end of the tour.  Great finish!

You can see the robot behind me through the viewing window ... and my cow-shaped cookie
After our great time at the conference, we returned home where ... it rained for the eighth day in a row.  Then it snowed.  Then, for about five minutes, it snowed while the wind blew 40 miles an hour.  It looked like a blizzard. 

Weather like this makes it a lot easier to be indoors at a meeting!  I'd go even if it weren't being held in a pretend castle.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Same creek, different seasons

The creek in summer:
The creek today:

It's still raining ...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


It's been raining for three days, all day long, and a lot of the night.

The creeks are spilling over their banks.  I can't normally see the creek from my window, but it's so high that I can now.  Fields all over the community look like ponds. 

After the drought, rain like this is really welcome.  The ground will be better prepared for the crops.  I think of my Uncle Al in New Mexico and how he'd be really happy about this rain.  I am grateful for it - I am!  It's hard being inside ... and for Kris and the guys, doing the work in the rain ... but it's going to be worth it.  (I keep telling myself this.)

It doesn't look like a barn-building forecast, but it does look like spring!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Farmer video

Last month, Farm Bureau asked Kris to play a farmer in a commercial. 

It was a natural fit. 

Seriously, he and I keep getting texts from friends saying things like, "Am I crazy, or did I just see Kris on TV?"