Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wrangler Wednesday

Over a year and a half ago I began a spot on the blog called Wrangler Wednesday.  If you would like to know more about this spot check out the first post.  

This weeks pictures were stolen off my husband, William's iphone.  First yes William has an iphone.  If you know William personally you are probably thinking I lost my mind but honestly he's done a decent job keeping this one safe.  For those of you who don't know the last time we upgraded William's phone he went through 3 in about 2 weeks...somehow they kept dropping into milk buckets, falling off tractors and/or grain bins.  

Here are a few of the photos he has taken:

Wyatt helping clean up in the milk room...well honestly the child is just in love with a water hose

Getting up milk cows...Sunrise at the dairy

Come and Get it...feeding beef cows

Sunset at the dairy

One of his favorite new calves...I love the markings

Frost covered hay...

William and Rachel during milking time


Uh oh someone fell in the mud

Just a glimpse at what William finds interesting going on around the farm.  

Until Next time- 


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teach Me Tuesday: Dairy Farms..our Cows

A couple of weeks ago I told you a little bit about our farm and where our milk goes.  Today we are going to talk a little more about our cows.  We have mostly Holstein and Holstein-cross dairy cows but we do have other breeds mixed in.  The reason we have this breed of cattle is because they produce the most milk but they are also the largest of the breeds which means they often require more feed.  We use crossbreeds to help improve the amount of butter fat in the milk and to make our cows more efficient.  A farmer gets paid based on the amount of milk and the amount of butterfat in the milk.  

This is Skittles...she is a Holstein X Jersey cow.  She happens to be one of my favorites.  Now just so you know not every cow at our farm has a name but everyone of them does have a number like you see on the red ear tag.  Many of our cows do have names but only on their registration papers.  When we discuss cows around the farm we use their numbers this helps eliminate any possible confusion as there is only one number 49 on the farm.  The number is how they are tracked in the computer programs and in the record books.  Our white board at the barn list cow numbers, calving dates, sex of calf, and calf # (if a heifer).  

Every day twice a day the cows health is evaluated in the milk line however we also check cows outside of the milk line to see how they are doing as well.  My husband and father-in-law do most of the herd checks with our little boy Wyatt tagging along as much as possible.  They check for many things, like is the cow eating and drinking enough, is she grazing or just laying around, what does her udder look like, her feet, her she in her normal spot in the milk line.  All of these things tell us a little bit about how she is doing.  So its important that someone checks them daily.  In addition its essential for cow health to be evaluated by others routinely.  Each month the cows are visited by a veterinarian and a milk tester.  The vet visits the farm to check on herd health.  The milk tester visits the farm to see how a cow is doing in the milk line.  

Our vet checks to see how cows are recovering after birth, if they are pregnant, does she have any illness and a multitude of other things.  Think of this as kinda like a check up.  Most of the time cows don't see the vet every month.  They get their check up based on how they are doing and what stage of production they are in.  Fresh cows, these are cows that have calved since the last visit are always checked on by the vet.  Any cow that might have been fresh at the last check that need a follow up are check, and any cow or calf that isn't performing well will be checked.  Also the vet will check all of our cows that should have been bred since his last 2 visits to confirm if the cow is pregnant or not.  We work closely with our veterinarian and spend a good deal of time working to ensure that our cattle are healthy.

The milk tester however is looking for something completely different.  Our milk tester does just that he test the milk.  He visits one milking once a month to get samples of the milk and weigh the milk for each and every cow that goes through our milk line.  This helps us to know which cows are producing the most milk but it also helps us with quality control of our milk.  Each sample of milk is tested to determine what a cows somatic cell count is or white blood cell count.  The higher a somatic cell count is the more likely that cow is to have milk of undesirable quality.  Cows like people always have cell counts however they are higher when bacteria is present.  By having this information readily available we are able to make important decisions on if a cow needs to receive treatment or be removed from the milk line all together.  One of the bonuses to knowing this information is that our co-op rewards farms that have low somatic cell count for the year, through an incentive program.  So it all boils down to healthy cows = a better bottom line.   To learn more about somatic cell count check out this link.  

This is what it looks like when the cows are getting milked.

 Another important part of the farm are the calves.  Our calves are fed milk from our bucket cows.  These are cows that their milk does not go into the tank for one reason or another.  We withhold cow's milk from the tank for various reasons...the cow has recently calved, the cow needed to have medication, or the cow's somatic cell count is higher than we would like. Our calves are kept in hutches where they have access to shelter, feed and water at all times.  They are fed milk twice a day.  The calves have rock bedding outside their hutches to improve the cleanliness.  Inside of the hutches are bedded in straw to help keep the calves warm and clean, this requires someone having to clean hutches on a regular schedule. Because we live in the Southeast during the summer calves are not given as much bedding and many times sleep outside.  Hutches and rock are cleaned between calves to ensure herd health.  

The last thing I am going to tell you about today is what our cows eat!  

This is feed that is purchased from a feed company.  We work closely with a nutritionist to determine what our cows need to do their best.  Feed is delivered multiple times a month to ensure it's fresh.   

Here are some of the girls waiting for feed early one morning...they look about as excited as I do at that time of morning!  

Our cows are fed twice a day and always have access to plenty of water and hay.   In addition to hay our cows are able to graze between milkings.  Some cows prefer to graze at night and others during the day.  Some of the cows prefer to eat more hay than they do grass.  So we offer both options.  The cows moving that much does mean that we get let milk because they are using more energy walking around than cows that are in a free stall barn but for us this is the best option at the time.  

Here is an info-graphic with a little information about cows that you might not know.  

So do you have questions about how we care for our cattle or what they eat?  Or about dairy farms in general? If so ask away I will be happy to answer them for you!

Until next time-


Monday, January 21, 2013

Mommy Monday: an update on baby Waylon

As some of you may know we are expecting baby #2 in March. We have started visiting the doctor every 2 weeks.

Today was our 32 week check up and all is going well! Wyatt was able to tag along and hear Waylon's heartbeat (160 bpm). We are still discussing our options on a VBAC or a repeat c-section. Our current plan is to not scheduled a repeat c-section until at least the 22 but probably more like the 27th ( since Wyatt was 5 days late).

We have ordered the crib set but haven't put up the crib yet or even made room for it! Needless to say we have lots left to do.

But I have worked on a few projects for the lil man. Wyatt and I cut out and made 4 one size pocket diapers. Yes we cloth diaper our children(more on that later)...not necessarily to save the planet but to save $$$. I also made some outfits for the hospital with his monogram.

We have about 8 weeks until we meet Waylon so I suppose I should get busy!!

Until next time...


Friday, January 11, 2013

Faithful Friday: How are those new goals going?

Faithful Fridays are a new addition to the blog this year!  I thought it might be great once a week to post on how I am trying to remain faithful to God.  This post keeps me accountable for my daily time with God.  It also gives me a chance at least once a week to focus on the blessings God has bestowed upon our family.  Some weeks that is much harder than others!!

So how have my faith based goals gone the first 11 days in the new year??

Goal 1: was to memorize 24 verses of scripture.  I am still working on my 1st verse of the year but will be adding number 2 next week!  I do have the basics of the verse hidden in my heart and will continue to work on it.  I have found myself turning to my index card binder often over the past 11 days to remind myself of the verse and to go before the Lord in prayer.  

Goal 2: was to spend more time in prayer and allow God to guide me.  I feel that I haven't spent nearly as much time in prayer  as I would have liked.  I need to be more dedicated and purposeful with my prayer time.  I catch myself praying throughout the day about little things but I feel that I also need to set aside some quiet time morning, noon, and night to do some focused prayer time.  As far as letting God guide me...well there are many times when I am not sure if I am doing my will or God's.  I try to make sure that what I am doing is pleasing to the Lord and that I am looking to him in all aspects of life not just in the big stuff.  I want to make sure that I am living my life for him all the time not just when it's easy.  I think my biggest struggle here is deals with finances.  It's hard to give up control to God and know that he will provide for our needs.  

Goal 3: was to read through the entire Bible in a year.  This one has been a little difficult as it requires you to set aside time each day to read between 4-5 chapters of the Bible.  I have gotten behind a couple of times but I am happy to say that currently I am caught up and have completely read the book of Ezra!  1 book down and 65 to go!  The weekends seem to be the hardest for me as we don't have a structured day on the weekends.  

In addition to these goals I also spend other times with the Lord.  I was blessed this week to get together with my WIC group on Wednesday night for a good girls night.  We enjoy a meal together, pray together, and study God's word.  We are working through Beth Moore's "David, Seeking a Heart Like His."  I have really enjoyed this study.  God has used this study to guide me in many ways!  I also really enjoy just spending time with the ladies in my group.  The majority of us are all in the same stage in life...we are 30ish, married, with kids and have full time jobs.  We do have ladies in our group who don't fit that description and I think that it's great!  Those ladies offer us a different insight into how God's word works in their life.  Many times we are so caught up in ours we forget that the same scripture may work differently in one life than the other...but the idea is the same...God is working in their life!  

Next week my Good Morning Girls group starts their study in Luke!  I am very excited for this study.  It's an 8 week study.  I am leading a Facebook group through the study.  I have tried this before and it worked out ok but I lost motivation because other's in the group weren't interacting.  I pray that the new group helps to keep up my motivation!  

I also try to work a little each day on vacation Bible school (VBS).  I do this so that I don't feel overwhelmed later in the year, which this year is even more important as we are expecting baby #2 in March.  I am happy to say we have dates set, starting to line up volunteers, and working on set design already!

So right now my typical day includes multiple small burst of time with the Lord.  I am thankful for the time I can spend with him alone but I also enjoy the time I spend with him and my family and friends.  Each type of interaction with the Lord blesses us greatly.  

Oh and by the way...I have to say HAPPY NATIONAL MILK DAY

So take a moment and let me know how are your faith based new year's goal going?  


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wrangler Wednesday

He's super fast on his new bike! 
Sunset at the homeplace

Puppy chasing the lil man

One very happy little boy!

Cuddle time

Wyatt's favorite Christmas Present!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Teach Me Tuesday: Dairy Farms

William checking cows
Many times people are confused when I talk about our dairy farm.  They want to know what type of farm are we? Where do we sell our milk?  How are our cows treated?  Well over the next couple of weeks I am going to take the time to answer those questions. 

Early mornings in the milking's a family affair

 Our farm is a family owned operation.  Meaning that our family does the work.  We do have a couple of high school and college students that help out on nights and weekends however the majority of the work is done by family members.   To give we an idea we milk roughly 100 cows.   We have Holsteins (Black & White Cows),  Jersey (Smaller brown cows) , Brown Swiss (larger brown cows everything from gray to chocolate colored), Ayrshire (smaller sized red and white cows)  and Guernsey (larger sized Red & White cows) all represented but we mainly have Holsteins and Holstein/Jersey crosses.  

Feeding heifers after church
The cows are milked twice a day.  We milk in a double 8 which means we milk 8 cows on each side at one time, so if both lines are full we are milking 16 cows.  I will explain more about the milking process at another time.  Today we are focusing on what we produce...that is the product that you purchase...MILK!
The milk from our cows is shipped to a local processing plant and pasteurized to be used in all types of dairy products (mainly fluid milk products).  You can check out where your milk came from here: Where is My Milk From?
An udder view
You can go to the grocery store and purchase our milk usually found under the Pet or Dean's food brand.  My son loves to go to McDonald's and get milk with his Happy Meals because our McD's uses Dean food milk (at least in our area).  

Now to say we drink a lot of milk is probably the understatement of the year!  We go through a ton of milk a week.  Below is an info-graphic on milk that does a great job of sharing how milk is cared for, nutrition facts and more!  

So there you have it...a little about our farm and about Milk.  Next week we will talk more about the cows and how they are cared for!  

Until then...


Monday, January 7, 2013

Mommy Monday: Routines

Today is our first week back to a regular schedule since before Thanksgiving.  It's hard to get that routine established and get everyone in gear, well I should say to get Wyatt & I in gear because William has the same schedule 365 days a year (cows get milked twice a matter what day it is).

In the last few years we haven't had a formal routine for Wyatt to follow.  It's just been left up in the air, needless to say mornings at our house sometimes fell in to the crazy catergory.  Since he has gotten older and I am on an organizational kick I thought it would be a good idea for him and I to both have a more structured morning...this will help us get out the door faster and with less confusion (hopefully).  So I scoured Pinterest and blogs for ideas that I liked.  I found my favorite at IHeart Organizing

Here is what the routine looks like


I love that the routine has pictures to go with the words which is great for my 4 year old who can't read yet.  Now we don't necessarily do all these things in order but I have laminated the sheet and he checks them off as he does them...knowing that he can't check off the bus until everything else is done!  I was amazed at how quickly he got things done this morning even though we didn't get up on time!  Thanks to Jen for giving away this printable... I have to mention that she has many many more great ones on the freebies page as well and if you prefer she can always custom make something for you in her Etsy Shop!

Now how do I stay on task in the mornings?  Well that is a little different!  I am a list girl and I need list...there is just something extra satisfying about the visual reminder of checking something off the list.  And for me as tech savvy as I am I must hand write this list for it to be effective...reminders in my phone or alerts from my calender just get dismissed but list get looked at and reviewed multiple times throughout the day!  I found a wonderful freebie (through Pinterest of course) over at Money Saving Mom.  The site gives you 2 options of a download call a Daily Docket.  One is filled in for you and the other is customizable.  I actually chose to go with the one that is filled in and just white out the items I didn't need.  It has worked great for me because this form gives me a place to write my To-Do list in a categorized way.  With a general to-do, blogging, daily chores, shopping list, dinner, ministry, and much more I am able to jot down everything on one sheet instead of a thousand sticky notes!  I love this printable!  So that is how we are starting out our year to gain control of our morning chaos...what about you?  How ware you attempting to organize and simplify your life? 

Until Next Time...


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 A New Year with New Goals

I can't believe that 2012 is over.  It was a year full of ups and downs, unmentioned struggles and some of God's greatest blessings.  I am sure 2013 will be no different.  I have learned over the years that it really doesn't matter what the calendar says each year will have it's own struggles and triumphs but if we focus on God's plan for our life (as little as we know about it) we will be better off with each passing year.  Now this is a hard one to swallow for those of you who might have started out 2012 employed but ended the year unemployed or lost a friend/family member, or witnessed devastation I can only imagine, however I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that many times the reason is to show us who/what we should focus on in life.

My goals in 2013 are much more focused on the things I feel that God has led me too instead of what I want.  In the past year some things have become very apparent to me.  I want to take the time to ensure I am working on his plan.

So what are my goals for 2013?  Well here they are...

1. Memorize 24 verses of scripture.  I will be doing this along with my sister.  We are both participating in Living Proof Ministries Siesta Scripture Memory Team

My first verse is one of my favorites: Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  Not only is this the first verse of the year I want to have hidden in my heart it is also the verse I have chosen to focus on living out this year.  Which takes me to goal number 2.

2. Let go of the fear and anxiety that consumes parts of my day.  Pray more often and let God guide me.  This goes for everything from parenting to financial planning.  Too many times I am concerned with other's opinions about myself, my family, even my finances.  I want to let that go.

3. Read through the ENTIRE Bible in one year.  I am not sure that I have ever read every single chapter and verse in the Bible.  Therefore this year I have decided to follow a plan.  I am going to do my best to stick with it.  If you would like to join in I am using the plan from Rachel 

4. Spend more time focusing on my family.  This has especially come to the fore front of my mind since we will be adding baby boy #2 in March.  I have realized that many times I have taken both my husband and son for granted.  I want to be an intentional wife and mother, taking time each day to appreciate each person in my home.  This means putting down a project, not watching a television show, or going outside in the cold mist to spend time with one of them then that is what I plan to do.  

5. Finally get my house, office, and life organized.  I worked on this challenge last year.  I did improve but still have a ways to go.  I keep hoping the declutter fairy (my sister) will come declutter and clean my house but to no avail :(.  This includes everything from better financial planning and monthly menus (that we stick to) to finding time to exercise more & rediscover the floor in my office(at work) along with finally getting rid of clothes I haven't worn since I got married! 

6. To use my blog more effectively.  For me this means one posting more often.  Last year I posted 37 new post and gained followers however this year I want to do more.  I have a goal of 500 followers by 12/31/13, but to reach this goal I must give my followers content.  My content will still focus on my life and it's ever changing activities.  
and last but definitely not least...

7. To advocate for agriculture more often and to be more vocal about issues affecting agriculture in our community.   I want to be the person that my non-ag friends look to for answers concerning agriculture...not some special interest lobbyist group who thinks that modern production agriculture is going to be the end of the world.  I would like to see more visitors to our farm and perhaps expand some of our education efforts in our area.  

So all in all my list isn't long but it's a commitment.  I did not include anything on my list that was a luxury.  I like visible targets and I feel that this list is just that!  So to close out this post please enjoy some photos from Christmas around our home.  

Wyatt & Star his Christmas puppy...which came just in time!  As we finished out 2012 his beloved Molly passed away.

Wyatt sporting his personalized PJ's thanks to Monkey Hunters.  

Our homegrown Christmas tree.  As much as I would love a "pretty" tree I love our tradition of chopping down a tree from our farm each year.  It's always fun to search for "just the right one".

Another picture of Star and her cuteness

A very happy boy on Christmas morning!

Until next time....