OK OK... so enough times I have been haggled..... I apologize for taking so long between posts. I forget that people actually read this. Its been a crazy month... but then again when has it not been a crazy month? You would think by now I would not be surprised.
Let's see... where to start? For me, I have been consumed with launching our new pet food line "Nourishing Pets". From recipe adjustments to logo and label design, procuring ingredients, webpage design, oh and actual production... its been pet food all the time. I spend most evenings either portioning out and freezing meatballs or thinly slicing and dehydrating liver. Its funny how life takes you down directions you never envisioned. I never would have guessed that at age 43 I would be a pet food manufacturer certainly never thought our farm would go in that direction. But, I am happy we did. Its really a pretty cool project. Not only are we making some pretty awesome food for pets but we are also working with other sustainable farmers and helping them with overages. For instance, we all know its been a crazy hot spring.... not at all spring-like. With most days over 75 degrees and some in the 80's many farmers have products booming like crazy and no markets open at which to sell them. We were able to help Shadowbrook Farm by taking 200lbs of gorgeous spinach off their hands. It kept that spinach from being ruined and they offered us an amazing price on the spinach. We have gotten greens from Community Crops in Lincoln as well. We found a farmer in central NE with tons of pastured eggs on his hands and no market and we were able to get a bunch of ground beef from pasture raised cows from central NE as well. As the season progresses we will work with these and other sustainable farms to purchase their less than perfect or overstocks in produce to include in the pet meals as well. Our veggies will change according to the season and what is available. Our freezers are stocked with greens so we will have beautiful greens in the food all year long!
We have also been preparing for farmers market which means....... CHEESE! So far we have raw milk pepper jack and raw cheddar aging and fresh feta ready for market. Tomorrow will be cheese curds for the weekend... not a raw cheese but sure a yummy one!
The grass has come on, its been crazy hot for April and the cows have been out to pasture for a few weeks now. So, cream is nice and yellow and the butter.... WOW! We long all winter long for spring butter. Good stuff that!
Dianne came over a few weeks ago and took some amazing pictures. I swear she has an amazing gift with kids and animals... she captures the greatest expressions and moments. Will put here shots throughout this post... enjoy!
Farm flooded again. Not as bad as the first time here but certainly enough to be dangerous for some of our animals and to wash away more nutrients from the soils. We joked on Facebook about changing the farm name to "Soggy Bottom Farm".... but halfway considering it for real! I really wish we had been given more information up front before renting this farm.... the pasture was probably fine for beef cows but with dairy cows..... its a constant struggle to get this pasture to provide the nutrition needed by our cows. We supplement our cows with organic trace minerals, natural clay, and extra vitamins which is costly but so far seems our only solution since whatever we do on the grass never seems to get to hang around long enough to make any difference.
We have made the sad decision to limit the pigs' pasture. We are going to have to keep them up here in the winter area because its the only place that doesnt flood.... and pigs dont swim. While we will keep grass in our pig's diet we are going to change the description of our pork as "Pasture Raised, Milk-Fed " rather than just "Pastured" because they wont be out under the trees in the pasture this year. We have always given them a bunch of milk which is why (I think) our pork is so yummy! We have also decided not to move the mobile hen house out to pasture either....it belongs to a good friend and we don't want it to become damaged... so our hens will still wander out in the pasture but their roosts will be closer to home.
The other "fun" side affect of farm flooding is fence damage. We have spent the last two weeks chasing our cows from down the road as they are finding all the weak spots in the fence line. Hannah and I spent an evening bringing them back from a mile down the road one evening when Andy wasnt home. Here are shots I snapped as Hannah chased them out of our neighbor's barn.... fun. Growing up around horses and horse shows I used to think the most beautiful sight was a young woman riding a big horse... such a powerful animal under her command. Watching Hannah round up 30 cows ( as I followed in the car to keep the road clear and blocked for her) I was struck by the same awesome sight. This little girl in control of this herd of cows so much bigger and stronger than her. She is not at all afraid of them, even the bulls... she had that whole herd at her command. With just minutes before nightfall... she brought them all in. Definitely a proud Mama moment!
Well, I guess that's about all for now, I will leave you with some great shots taken by Dianne...... "Ya'll come back now.. ya hear!"
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..