More about the future.

I am going to strive to post three blogs every week. They will focus on our farm, its history & future, our family, and the state of agriculture we find ourselves in. I hope you enjoy reading them. I really desire your feed back.

We are doing a survey of all of our herd share members and regular customers. We are hoping to get an idea of just what you folks are interested in us producing and about how much you my be consuming. I keep bringing up money but it really does come down to that. It's fine that we enjoy the work, that we think it a wonderful way to raise a family, that you enjoy the products, that our animals are humanly cared for, that we are building our soil better and better each year, and that, as far as we know, we are not offending our neighbors. This is all really good stuff, but if we can't pay the light bill and our mortgage then it means very little! We have to figure a way to pay all our over head, our mortgage, our taxes, upkeep of our facilities, our living expenses, and leave something that we can put in saving for the future. So far we are not there, but we believe we can get there. This survey will really help. If you are not a customer or you know someone else who might like our products please use our contact information.

FIGURING OUT OUR FUTURE.

I have mentioned our financial woes, perhaps too often! We just aren't grossing enough to cover all our overhead. No business can survive long term with this being a description of its condition. Something has too give. We have to be careful about expenses but excess spending is not our problem. Plain and simple, we are not making enough money!!! Currently our cows are just not producing enough milk. Lack of milk production in mammals is an indication of something. In our case it is a lack of energy. Cattle diets are complex but basically they need protein and energy. Salt, vitamin, minerals, fiber, etc. are very important but you have to meet the big two first to get the others to work. We are getting all but the energy. This is always a problem on grass. As our pastures improve the sugar content of the plants will increase, and this will help a lot. It is also probable that our cattle, through selection, will become better converters of forages to milk. However, it is likely  we will have to feed supplemental high energy grasses for some time while we try to make improvements in the other areas.

Aftermath of my speaking opportunity

Had a nice time at the Weston Price meeting last night. It was held in Medina at a health food store/ Chiropractors office NE of town on rt. 3/ Weymouth rd. They talked about the benefits of raw milk and Kefir. I have grown to like Kefir, but didn’t know it’s history and many benefits. If you have digestive issues I strongly recommend it. Pretty neat stuff and you can make it at home. After the Dr. spoke he had me come up and tell about our farm and herd share. It went well and there were a good amount of questions. Ben had assembled a slide show of cows and pigs pics so I had that to show. Most folks seemed to want to look at the pics as appose to listen to any thing I had to say. If any of you were wondering I got through it with out fainting or having to run to the bathroom!

Livestock moving adventure.

Saturday Ben & I had to move a cow and calf with the trailer. We’ve done this lots of times and feel we know how to calmly handle cattle. Ben backed the trailer up to the gate of the paddock and I opened the swinging trailer door. Usually we set a tread in post beside it to keep it from swinging into the electric fence. That morning the post had been left out of the truck. I thought it would be okay. Confident the door would not swing and we would have the cow loaded in minutes, I got the calf and set it in the front to the trailer. Ben brought the cow right behind. All went as planned until the cow investigated with her nose. She smelled the steel trailer door, causing it to move over a few inches and make contact with the electric fence. She got well fried and took off running to the far side of the paddock. Ben and I tried until we were mostly worn out, but no matter what we did she wasn’t going near the “Red trailer of death!” I called Darcy to bring halters, one for the calf the other for the cow. After about 2 hours I basically dove and grabbed around her neck with one arm using the other to put on the halter while Darcy and Ben were being knocked in all directions by our now possessed cow. I held on tight to the halter making  her go in circles. Keeping Grandpa Sheffield's cattle leading instructions ringing in my ears, “Be the post, kids, be the post!!” I guess it worked as she didn’t get away and no one was hurt. We got her loaded and moved to the new paddock where she seems completely happy. We had to move a 600+ lb. sow for butchering and another to the farrowing pen later in the day. Both of those were easy comparatively!

 

Struggles of all Grass fed milk and meat.

We started raising our cattle on forages only a couple years ago. We were not milking but a few cows at the time. This milk went to our family and extended family. In June of last year we started shipping milk to Horizon  Organic Dairy. We stayed committed to being all grass. (Forages only) The problem  with a forages only diet is you have a lot less options if you do not have the highest quality forages. With conventional dairying you can add corn, corn silage, and soybean meal to balance the ration and challenge the cattle to produce more milk or meat depending. We can’t do that other than with the forages. Getting hay alone to meet a bovines energy needs is almost impossible. The past year we produced a decent amount of good dry cow and heifer hay. They aren't milking so don’t need the same high feed value as the milkers. We produced some good milking cow feed and hoped for a mild winter and early spring. Well the winter was brutal and it was 32 degree this morning on May 14th! We tried to buy good organic hay but have been unable to. It will be available over the summer but we didn't find it when we needed it. All this is part of the start up learning curve but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable or put any more money in our checking account. On the plus side our dry cows, heifers and calves look fantastic. That is our future if we can survive! Milk cows have a 3-10 year life so we have to always be raising new ones to replace the existing ones. I am really hoping the cows will milk more as the spring and summer progress and they are grazing better pasture. If people knew it was this easy and this much fun I imagine everyone would want to start an organic grass fed dairy farm!

Butchering Dates Approaching!!!

 

 

We have scheduled butchering from now through August. We have beef calves raised on the mom's milk and pasture, real tender and a good value. There are a number of pigs still not spoken for. These too are on pasture and have been well received. Folks say the meat is real flavorful! We have one lone steer left at the moment. He'll go in, in about a month. He's a Jersey cross so it should be real good grass fed beef. We will have a fresh supply of several styles of pork sausage, ground beef, beef Brats, and cuts of all of the above for any of you that would prefer to purchase smaller amounts than a 1/4 or 1/2. Let us know. You can order on our website or message us on Facebook.

Yogurt Making

Today, after finishing milking I did a batch of yogurt.  It really isn't difficult and I took a few pictures and will try to explain how I do it.  

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I save a half cup of yogurt when I make a batch as the starter for the next batch.  I freeze it if is going to be a while before I make another batch.  I took this out of the freezer last night and while I am prepping for the yogurt, I set the starter in a dish of warm water to take the chill off it. The first time I purchase store bought plain yogurt. I used Chobani plain greek yogurt  this time. i have also used Dannon regular plain yogurt. It does not turn out quite as thick.  

I Pour a half gallon of whole cream raw milk into a saucepan and put is on medium heat.  I stir it occasionally with a metal spoon to avoid having it burn on the bottom of the pan.  I use a dairy thermometer to monitor the temperature.  I heat it to 140 degrees.  A lot of recipes say you have to heat it to 180 degrees and others say not over 120 degrees. 140 degrees works well for me.  Once it reaches 140 degrees, I turn off my electric burner and leave it for 10 minutes.  It usually holds the temperature for that long with the heat left in the burner.  

After the 10 minutes I set the pan in a sink with very cold water.  I continue to stir it. With my dairy thermometer I watch the temperature.  I want to get it to 112-115 degrees.

While waiting on the milk I put my starter yogurt in a half gallon mason jar.

And I half fill my 2 gallon cooler with 115 degree water.

When the milk has cooled to 115 degrees I pour about a cup of milk into my jar with the starter and wisk it together. I then add the rest of the milk and wisk that.

I put on the lid and immerse the jar in the warm water in the cooler. It should completely surround the jar but not be up to the lid.  You may have to remove or add water to get it to the right level.  Work quickly through these step to maintain the 115 degree temperature. Cover the cooler. I then wrap two heavy bath towels around the cooler and place in a warm spot.  This is by a register in my laundry room.  In warm weather it can be left anywhere were it won't be disturbed. Then the hardest part for me is remembering to come back in 6 hours to check it.  

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I always set a note on the kitchen table as a reminder. You could also set an timer on your stove or an alarm on your phone. After 6 hours I take the jar out of the cooler and place it in the refrigerator overnight. 

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And this is my end product.  I put it into two containers and use them one at a time.  I also save out my 1/2 cup of starter for my next batch so I don't forget.  We really like the taste and texture of our yogurt. We eat it plain, or add fruit and maybe some vanilla, maple syrup or honey, or use it in a fruit smoothie.  All are delicious.  I know if you search for methods online you find all different temperatures, lengths of time and additions to add. I have tried adding some dry milk and a tablespoon of sugar to my milk but I don't see a big difference.  I have not tried making it without heating the milk above 112 degrees first.  Some recipes say to get the milk only to 110-112 degrees and no more to save all the benefits of raw milk.  I have not tried it that way, but I don't do the 180 degrees and it is still working well.  I have also heard if your yogurt is too thin you can strain it through cheese cloth and drain off some of the liquid. i have not done that either.

Welcome from the Kliers!

Well the first thing for those of you who don't know us. Klier in a Czech name from Jim's dad. Both of the grand parents on dads side came from the Czech republic. They pronounced Klier "Clear". The rest of our heritage on both sides is pretty typical English, Scotch, Irish Both Darcy and my families came over to the United States early and migrated to Ohio early in the 1800's. My family farmed in SE Ohio, Harrison County.  When their farms were taken to build Tappan Lake they moved to Lorain to run their furniture moving business. Darcy's family on both mom and dad's side came to the Lorain county area to farm. In fact the farm Darcy dad and brother operate is now a century farm that is in the 4th generation, with the 5th and now 6th generation being primed to continue on the farming tradition. We are a ways behind but hope to be instilling a love of the land and livestock in our 2nd and 3rd generations as we speak!