Monday, June 10, 2013

Our garden is growing

I was looking through some pictures for the shots of the garden, when to my surprise I found this shot. Obviously my kid and my dog don't think my "no dogs on my furniture" rule applies if I'm not looking. I admit that this is a cute shot of the greatest dog we have ever owned, but that couch is over a hundred years old and has been in my family since it was new. The kid and the dog are lucky I love them so much.

Now on to my reason for this session, the garden.


A long row of red and green cabbage along side another long row of broccoli (or as little kids say "trees") and cauliflower.

Some of the plants I started in the house are already producing food for us! Here is our first and only little tomato!

And then there is the tiny little sweet pepper!

Then there is this patch of lettuce just because Saide loves salad more than any kid I ever met.

We have started collecting strawberries. Here is what happens when you don't bring in enough to make jam. What a yummy way to prevent waste.

Thank you Lord for all the gifts you do provide with a bit of labor from us.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The County Fair

The Milligan Dairy  Farm has never gone to the fair, till now! I have decided to take our cows on the road to Jackson County Fair Grounds this fall.

As a dairy class, open show, we will take calves of various age groups to show. We might try to take some of the milking cows. I say "might" for one good reason, these cows might let you pet them, but not one of them  grew up with a lead rope around her head, and for a cow, that could seem pretty scarey.

We will also be sure to take some very young calves so kids can help bottle feed babies. So please, weather you are a share holder, neighbor, or blog follower, come hang out with us and our lovely cows at the fair.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Another sign of Spring

Getting stuck behind a slow moving tractor isn't fun for anyone, not even another farmer. Just remember to be patient and know that we farmers have to get from one field to the next if you want to eat again this year.

From now till October, if you have to travel down a country road, you might want to leave a bit earlier. We will be working fields and planting through May, then we go into hay season, mowing every 30 days. For us, it takes about that long to get all our hay fields cut, so when we finish the last field of hay we restart the first one in just a few days, so we are on the road almost everyday in the summer. Just when we are about done with the hay, it's time to start harvesting soybeans and corn.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring is here!

Spring is that time of year when everything feels like a game of hurry up and wait.

Glenn and Garrett spent two days running around all the pastures checking that every inch of fence is up and working. We don't want to turn the girls out and watch them head down the road. But now we have to wait for the pasture to be growing before we put the girls out. Hurry up and wait!

Our big group of heifers are all calving. That is very exciting, but also nerve racking. There are 30 young cows having a calf for the first time. First time mom's of any sort are nervous Nellies, and the babies don't always just drop out. We are trying to stay out of the way so as not to upset the young mom, but still be there and ready should she need help. Hurry up and wait!

We are also trying to get all our equipment ready to do the fields, planning what crop will go where, and then we have to wait for the temperatures to be right so that our crops will grow. Hurry up and wait.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Say Cheese!

I used to make cheese all the time, but when we moved out of the old farm house I got rid of most of my supplies. I think your home can affect your mood. This house was not homey, or homestead material, and I hated the kitchen.

I finally pulled out the old (modern)kitchen a couple years ago and made it look like a very functional farm kitchen. I love working in my kitchen now. The next problem was that I had let someone buy my cheese equipment.

I finally ordered new equipment. So far I have a white cheddar drying and a gouda drying. I will wax the cheddar Wednesday and let it start it's six month aging process. The Gouda will get smoked before I wax it. I love smoked Gouda!

My sister in law, Cherie was here for the first batch of Mozzarella. It's so much fun making cheese, now she is hooked.

Now one of our employees wants me to make cheese for them for Christmas. I might be able to do something like that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

raw milk in perspective

Okay, just call me crazy for the way I think.

For some reason I decided to look up the raw milk laws in other countries. Why is it legal to sell raw milk in so many other countries if raw milk is so deadly? I'm not talking about third world countries, or undiscovered tribes in Africa here, I'm talking about Scotland, England, Italy. How about Prince Charles giving raw milk the credit for his grandmother living to be 100. Read for yourself.

In this next link I find some interesting points. If you read it you will see that there were 12 cases (involving only 435 people) of food borne illness in 2000 and 2008 tracked back to raw milk. If that's the case for making raw milk illegal, explain to me why it's legal to sell ground beef or raw vegetables. Here's a little quote about ground beef for you: In 1999 it was estimated that about 73,000 people in the U.S. got sick each year from E. coli. About 60 died. It’s believed that the number of illnesses and deaths has been dropping since then. Come again, and this food is not as dangerous as raw milk?

The next thing I find interesting is that there were 2 people who got sick from pasteurized milk in that same time frame, oh but wait, they figure that was milk contaminated post pasteurization. Fair enough, but who said the raw milk didn't become contaminated after it left the farm.

I will say that I  agree with having a high standard for raw milk farms. I don't think you would want to eat at a restaurant that couldn't pass an inspection, a dairy farm should be the same.

You see peanut butter factories killing people with contaminated food, and no one outlaws peanut butter or even goes in and arrests the owners. Nope, we are allowed to decide for ourselves if we ever want to trust that brand again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Milk, raw and pasteurized

As a dairy farmer I think there are things consumers should know.

Store bought, pasteurized milk does not contain antibiotics. Maybe it did years ago,but I don't know about that, I do know it does not now.
As a commercial dairy farm my milk is tested before it ever gets off the tanker. The hauler takes a sample of each farm with him to the lab, but then the processor takes a tanker sample to test for quality and antibiotics before they let him drop off his milk. If the tanker of milk  were found to be unacceptable, the farmer who contaminated the tanker would be buying a lot of milk. Each farm is regulated for these things daily, any farm not in compliance will be shut down if they can't fix their problems in a fair amount of time. Once the milk is pasteurized, all the bacteria, good or bad is killed making it safe for human consumption, because of this, there can be a bit more variables in the quality of the raw milk.

Raw milk on the other hand is a totally different creature. Raw milk contains living organisms and is not all equal. If you drink milk from a sick cow or milk that hasn't been cooled quickly as well as kept clean, you are setting yourself up for disappointment as well as the chance of getting sick. The quality of raw milk starts with the health of the cow and continues not just into the bulk tank, but the trip home and while it is at home. Like raw meat, you don't leave it in your hot car for 3 hours while you do your other shopping. You don't leave it on the counter the entire time you cook and eat breakfast. It needs special care because it has not been pasteurized.

My choice is to drink raw milk. I drink raw milk for several reasons, the first being that I know mine is clean and safe. The second reason is because I am just inclined to stay away from over processed foods of any sort. I don't make my biscuits from a can or a mix (not even if they are organic), I make them with flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, lard and my raw milk. I eat meat that I raised because it has never seen a growth hormone. I don't eat anything with extra preservatives, artificial flavors, or high fructose corn syrup (okay, I sneak a candy bar once in a great while). But my point is that I personally think eating what I raised or made from scratch just plain tastes better and I think it must be better for you.

What ever your choice is, make sure you are buying something safe and of high quality.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Going organic

Today Duane and I are headed to West Branch Michigan for a meeting with my friends at Bio Ag. I have worked with them a bit here and there after taking over the farm two years ago, but frankly I had way to much to learn all at once. So now that I have an award winning herd, my focus is going to the crops.

I did plant cover crops behind the corn last year, which is a small headstart into this years crop. I have also been planting conventional corn from the beginning. For those that aren't familiar with the term conventional, it just means plain corn, as in not altered by a chemical company to kill bugs that try to eat it, not resistant to the "killing all things green" round up.

So here's hoping I can master the art of crop management in a hury. Crops are not as simple as plant and harvest. First you need to know all the science that is going on between soil and plant and which plant uses which mineral.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

An update on Lauren and Janet

I know that family reads this blog, so I would like to update you all on how Lauren and Janet are doing.

Lauren has been on dialysis for quite some time now, I think about 2 years. He is doing pretty good, but he had some hard times recently. Two months ago he became so weak that he couldn't even cary on a conversation. This happened to him back in the summer, but that time it only lasted a day. This time it lasted for a couple weeks or more. We were concerned that he might not recover at all.

Thanks to the great care he got at Faith Haven, he did recover pretty good. He is still in a wheelchair because his legs remain weak, but at least his mind is back in order.  He can walk with the assistance of his walker for about 50 feet. He also likes to show off how good he can climb in any truck hauling him to good food!

Because of all this, Lauren decided to join Janet at Spring Arbor Assisted Living. He needs a bit more care than Duane and I can offer while running a farm. It was discussed that he should have 24 hour a day care.

Janet is doing great! She is glad to have her husband with her in her apartment. Granted, she is still of the mind set that she would rather go home. I certainly don't begrudge her that, but with that, she is happy to have her life companion with her again.

It's funny to see how two people who have bickered, loved, and who knows what, for 61 years can suddenly remind you of high school sweet hearts all over again. I love to see the twinkle in Lauren's eye when Janet makes plans to go home and take care of him. He still see's her as that girl he saw back in high school as he once told me "the prettiest girl he ever saw". I only hope that Duane looks at me like that when I am nearly 80 years old.

I'm sure even though I am also hard on Duane at times, I will want to take care of him in return for all the hard hours he has worked to take care of me and our children, just like his dad.

Their marriage hasn't always been a fairy tail, but it has lasted much longer than many. That says a lot to me.

A quality Trophy

We have spent the time that we have run the farm, perfecting it. That was my plan. Well I am proud to announce that for all the mistakes we have made, and we have made some, we are now producing the best quality milk in our 2 county area!

We were invited to a meeting by DHIA, they test each individual cow's milk production and quality for me once a month. Because I'm not all about high production, I didn't bother to go to the meeting. I didn't figure they cared about the quality I was trying to perfect. It was quite a surprise to me when a neighbor farmer called to congratulate me.

According to my farming neighbor, that I look up to as a great cattle man, I won a trophy for the highest quality in both counties and 6th place in production. What an honor that I missed out on. I guess my lesson is not to be so judgmental of those I think are judging me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

High quality milk

I just want to let people know how happy we are with our milk quality.

One day Duane gave me a magazine article to read. It was about 5 producers who regularly keep the SCC below 50,000. That is basically the cow wellness measurement in their milk. Of course he was shocked when I bought the CMT (California mastitis test) and the micro fiber wipes the following week. I tell him all the time, why read about it if you aren't going to do it? I printed and laminated a milk procedure for all of us milking our cows to follow. Low and behold, our milk started getting better.

Right now we are producing milk as good as I think it can get. Our SCC is down to a month average of 70,000. Our bacteria is 1,000, and our P.I. is at 2,000.

Things we did that I think matter:

implementing the milk house routine,

repairing the free stall barn,

keeping lots of clean sand in the stalls when the girls aren't on pasture,

and hiring a good hoof trimmer that comes on a regular basis.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Around the farm

I can't believe how long it has been, again!

So here is what I have been doing.

Watching my niece become a woman of our family. That means making the rock candy for the season.

Sadie is totaly doing the milking with me. She can handle the cows that don't reallly like being milked.

We now have a couple Gurnsey cows.

We also have dubbed this goofy cat our milk house mascot. She sits here every day the entire time we milk the cows.