Where I Have Been

Our little cowgirl

I thought I would do a little catch up blogging this afternoon since the thunder just started and has chased me inside for a while. And, since some of you have asked where I have been lately, I thought I would take this time to journal about what has been going on here on the farm and what the weeks ahead hold.

First, the reason I have not been blogging many cheese recipes as of late is because I sold my cow.  

All three bovines together

Now don't panic, I haven't jumped ship and given up milking and cheese making.  I actually had been planning on selling my older cow for a while because her daughter, Siri, is due to calf today (although she may be a week late like her mama always was since she is not looking quite there yet)This decision to sell our cow Lena was one I had been thinking and praying about a lot earlier this spring because we just didn't have the grass in our pasture to feed two cows along with our steer.  


So, when the opportunity came up to sell Lena to a wonderful family who fell head over heels in love with her, I had to let her go.  I do have a post I will be putting up late today on the batch of Brie cheese I made with the last of the milk we had from Lena so all cheese making as you can see has not halted around here (there is another washed rind cheese I am babysitting too that I am not quite ready to post on, but more about that later), but until Siri starts producing you will need to hang on for more cheese recipes.

That then leads me into the next thing which has been keeping me busy, preparing for a new calf and a new cow to milk.  

Just getting ready for a calf from a seasoned mama cow is enough work (or adding in a bought one on years we don't have a bull calf to raise for meat), but training a new heifer to come into the barn and stand in the stanchion with the noise of the milking machine going is a feat in itself.  
Lena in the milking stanchion

Also, since my heifer in the past has proven to be a kicker (she has even tried kicking me at her side when I had to administer her a shot once) I have purchased a Kow Kant Kick device to have on hand just in case she gets any ideas about kicking the milking machine off once that element is introduced to her stanchion regimen.  
Kow Kant Kick device

Added to all those things, the barn once again needed its spring cleaning done and a new space needed to be set up for the calf since the electric fence in the pasture is not enough to hold the calf in with mama.  (It may sound cruel to separate mom and baby, but baby calves are notorious for running off through fences and causing their moms and owners lots of grief, thus giving the calf a bottle twice a day with its moms milk and providing it with a nice safe spot to be works best all around.)

Oh, and speaking of baby animals, we also have new chicks that arrived a few weeks ago.  

The caring for the chicks is the easy part though.  What makes adding new chicks to the farm each spring tough is the day of the year my kids dread the most:  coop cleaning day.  Yes, all the wood shavings and everything else that is mixed into the shavings needs to be scooped out of the coop and put into the gardens and compost pile so the coop is ready for another year and for the new chicks on their way.  

Fortunately this year the chicks are much easier to care for than most years since we decided with chickens still in the freezer from last year, and some older layers that need to be thinned out in the fall as stew chickens, we only ordered 35 new layers for replacements instead of the 150+ we usually order and raise.

Added to all of that, the growing season here in Minnesota started really late this year and so I have been up to my ankles and wrists in mud.  

Each year I grow 4 large organic (my label not official by any means) heirloom seed gardens each year to supply our family and animals with food for our long winters.  Needless to say, the gardens have taken a lot of tending and today finally marked the point where I feel like I am more on top of the weeds than they are on top of my plants.  Our gardens in a very short period of time have gone from looking like this...

still snow

indoor seedlings

garden plans

...to looking like this.

front herb and vegetable garden

Another view of the same garden (three more elsewhere on the property)

And, you would think all of that would be enough to keep me busy, but if you saw a tweet I made on Twitter yesterday, I am also working diligently on a recipe I have been creating for the Bob's Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle III contest.  

I hope to have the recipe finished in the next few weeks and then make a video with my recipe to submit to the contest page.  So, keep your eyes out for that too.  I am pleased my family has loved the recipe as much as they have because we are up to our ears in Bob's steel cut oats (which is not a bad thing mind you).  With each tweak and modification I make to the recipe, more oats need to be made and therefore there is then more for us to eat! (I have to admit though, the chickens have had to help too.)

Well, that's about all from here on the Ployhar family farm.  If you are still interested in my upcoming healthy cooking or cheese making classes, there are still openings.  Also, feel free to stop by the Dennison, MN farmer's market on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8pm where I will be selling fresh produce, eggs, and healthy baked goods each week.


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