Well... it seems spring might be here to stay! Our cows are out to pasture and things are beginning to dry up around here. Putting the cows out to pasture is something we look forward to so much around here. The cream on our milk has already turned yellow signalling the return of all those precious CLA and Omegas properties!
We finally completed the finishing touches on our milk room! We now are a Grade A dairy, licensed by the state of Nebraska!
One of the big perks of our new status is that our milk will be tested by the state monthly for both somatic cell counts and bacteria levels. Our initial tests came back with excellent numbers, which confirmed for us what we already knew... our milk is good! Seriously... it is nice to be see our numbers and know we are doing things right.
Andy tests the cows daily for somatic cell counts, anything that is even remotely positive, is milk that we never put in our tank, and Andy uses a separate milker to milk. This has kept us free from mastitis so far. We are able to catch any potential problems way ahead of the game, are able to address any issues with a cow before it turns into a problem, and we keep from spreading anything around the herd.
I know.. boring boring boring.... but there is another reason why we wanted to get to Grade A standards -- CHEESE!
We doubled our herd in March with the purchase of 20 grass-fed jersey girls from Iowa! This was such a scary decision.. I had to completely let go of it and let Andy have the final say-so. Milking 36 Cows! 26 caving in April! What was he thinking??? But then the answer came to us..... CHEESE!
We will have raw milk cheddar cheese available come early July. We have to age the raw milk cheeses for sixty days here in Nebraska so that is why it will have to wait for a little while longer. But I am so excited about this!
Its hard to believe but just a mere two and a half years ago we were starting over here in Nebraska. Milking four cows on a dirt floor in the barn... and now we have 36 cows and a functional real milking parlor and milk room! Its been a long journey to get here, and at times we have been so close to giving up. But here we are..... right where we want to be. God is good - and we are thankful. Yes, I am exhausted.. and yes at times overwhelmed. But thankful.
Ashely's senior prom was in April. Back in March she and I took a whole day just the two of us for prom dress shopping. What a treat! I had dreams of dresses all night, but we found just the right one! My friend Linda graciously offered to do Ashley's hair for prom and ended up doing both hers and her best friend, Cass's hair! She did an amazing job of recreating what each girl wanted. The both looked amazing! Thanks Linda!
Ashley also turned eighteen this month. WOW! I am screaming proud of that kid... it's hard to keep it in sometimes. She has really turned out to be an amazing young woman. Its exciting to watch her make plans for her life, to see her thinking things through and making adult decisions. Its also bittersweet; she is planning on moving out after graduation... to an apartment with friends. She will be starting college in the fall..her life is really taking off. I am incredibly thankful for the relationship she and I share. She is not only my daughter but my friend. I was a single parent from the time she was one until she was six. At times it felt like it was her and I against the world. Now, I get to watch her go out and take on the world.. it's wonderful!
There is one major downside to a TV-free life... I miss out on the daily news. I need to discipline myself to check the news app on my phone regularly. I only learned through Facebook of what happened back home last week. Here is a picture stolen from Ciara's Facebook page of the tornado in Ringgold, Georgia. I was relieved to see that my friend is fine. I am still waiting to hear from family that my Aunt in Alabama is well... I am guessing she is since bad news travels so fast. No news is good news... right?
Bartow County Georgia sustained a lot of damage, and that is where our farm was located. Looking at pictures of the ruins brought me right back to the tornado that hit our home back when Ashley was just a little one and it was just us. I don't ever remember being so scared, so helpless trying to keep her covered and under my body, feeling the walls move back and forth, knowing the tornado was at my house. We were lucky, very lucky. We lost our roof but were safe and sound. My heart goes out to all those that lost their homes or worse, their family members. They remain in my prayers.
On a positive note: Hannah, Jamie, and Alexander had their last week of Awana's this past week. Hannah and Jamie took second and third place respectively. Our neighbor Karen took them to Awanas this year and they really enjoyed it. It hit right at milking time so I never got to go and watch but I am pleased they had fun and did so well.
I will leave you with a shot of Michael collecting eggs on Easter. One would think my kids would tire of egg hunting - huh, But... treat-filled Easter eggs are hard to resist!
One of these days I will have to cut his hair.... not yet. I am so in love with his unruly curly unkemp locks! It took five kids to get curls...
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..