Category Archives: dairy farm

Images from the farm

This season my family and I are farm-sitting for my mother while she is working overseas. She has 10 dogs and 4 horses, plus a few cats and aquariums, so there’s always something exciting happening!

  

This spring is more exciting than most — a mare which she rescued from slaughter just in time for Christmas has turned out to be pregnant. She is due any day now according to the size of her baby and her udder development, and she’s looking very fit and happy.

 Amazingly, the horse came with papers and is of very good quality, something my mom never expected when she saved her from the feedlot. She’s a wonderful horse, who seems to have been a victim of the economy.

Yesterday, one of my mother’s breeding poodles surprised us, too. We had no idea she was in heat, none of the studs were acting nosy and she wasn’t bleeding or anything. Imagine our surprise when we let her out first thing in the morning, and two minutes later saw her doing this with one of the studs!

They stayed tied for about 10 minutes, but I didn’t think to grab the camera until the very last moment. The male is licking his nose, so much for dignity. No litter was planned for this summer, but it will be a beautiful pairing, and be a summer litter which is always easiest to care for.

Choosing and Buying Heirloom Seeds

My very first blogpost ever was about buying seeds, and I love to re-post that article around this time each year because it is so appropriate. What are you going to plant this year? 
 
I am going to focus on tomatoes and tomatillos, and I plan to put them in a sunny corner of my herb garden on some trellises against the house among the clematis. My son has developed a passion for Mild Verde Sauce, so I hope to can some this summer, and make a whole bunch more tomato sauce (we are almost out of what I canned, just one jar left!) I do still have a couple quarts of my dried tomatoes left which will last us until the local hot-house tomatoes begin to come in. They go in our pasta sauces, on our salads, in soups and stews, and are gobbled up plain for snacks.
 
This year I’ve decided to look into some new seed companies, I’ll let you know how that turns out! If any of you have any suggestions for great climbing, heritage tomato breeds or a favorite seed company, let me know.
This winter has been particluarly hard on most of the people in my region, with leaking roofs, collapsing barns and 12 foot snow drifts on everyone’s mind. So spring and seeds are a welcome focus! Enjoy the rest of my article, and have fun buying seeds.

“Having turned the corner through the dead of winter, our days are getting longer and everyone (at least here where I live) is dreaming about Spring and days that don’t begin with a stoking of the fireplace. Seed and plant catalogues are a great way to feed the mind and soul during winter, with beautiful images of flowers and vegetables, herbs and exotic grasses. I recently found a great article from Mother Earth News that had links to seed companies all over America. This is a fantastic resource, because when you buy seeds locally you are accomplishing two things: you are supporting local business communities and your plants are more likely to thrive in your soil, having been bred for generations in that spot of earth.

When you are reading about seeds, you will come across the terms Hybrid (F1), Open-Pollinated (OP) and Heirloom. Hybrid seeds produce specially bred varieties that are often disease and drought-resistant, or have special production properties. They are also usually designed to create more seed buying and protect the seed company’s economic interest in their stock, which means that they will not breed true: if you want the same plant next year, you’ll have to buy the seeds again. If you try and use seeds you collected from the plant, they will grow into a different plant, generally with different fruit production, or not even germinate at all.

Open-pollinated seeds breed true, and are often organic or grown without pesticides. You can save seeds from an open-pollinated plant and expect the exact same plants the next year. Environmentally, they present a better heritage for our children because these seeds are dependable and safe. Heirloom seeds are generally considered open-pollinated seeds which have been growing true for over 50 years or plant generations — these are the seeds of our grandmothers, and theirs. Some heirloom varieties are endangered, and I love knowing that I am preserving a little bit of istory by planting these varieties in my garden. Here in Connecticut, I often choose to order from two companies. The first is Comstock, Ferre, which had many OP seeds to choose from, does a lot of their own growing, and is the oldest seed company in the United States. How cool is that?? The other is a small company just a few towns aways from me, in a really tiny town, actually, called John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds. I also have some seeds from last year from Park’s and Seeds of Change that I will use up.”
 
Another great resource for those of you who are uber-serious about saving and using your seeds for next year is the fabulous book, Seed to Seed.

Guernsey – Gorgeous Island, Great Cows

I just finished reading a very good book called “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” The book makes one fall in love with the Channel Island, so afterwards I spent some time looking at Guernsey online. Along the way, I discovered that there are all sorts of benefits to Guernsey cows that I never knew of.

I already knew that milk from Jersey and Guernsey cows is naturally much lower in hormones than that of Holsteins. The raw milk we drink comes from Jersey cows. And I also knew that they were, in my opinion, the prettiest cows. What I did not know is this:

Guernsey milk contains 12% more protein, 30% more cream, 33% more vitamin D, 25% more vitamin A and 15% more calcium than average milk. Also, 96% of Guernsey cows produce only A2 Beta Casein protein milk, compared with most cows which make primarily A1 milk, and Jerseys whose milk contains about 40-50% A2 protein. The A2 protein has been touted in recent studies to benefit milk allergies, lactose intolerance, heart disease, and even autism. Guernsey milk produces a better curd for cheese making, converts more feed to milk than Holsteins, matures earlier but lives and produces milk longer.

And, of course, they are just very, very cute!

Raw Milk is Real Milk

This morning I found out that the Department of Agriculture is pressuring my beloved state of CT to put much stricter regulations on raw milk, including requiring all sales to be on-site. All the farmer’s are up in arms, and the consumers too. If we have to start buying our milk on site, we will have to drive 30 minutes each way to get it, which is just silly. The hearing is tomorrow, and I have written about 50 people on the committee about it, and signed a petition. I wish I’d known earlier, so I could have arranged to be at the hearing — and I am surprised we didn’t know, since my husband is a retail distributor of raw milk. He sells to about 6 people a week, but the farmer never told him. Ah well. Wish our farmers luck!

We love our raw milk, which we’ve been drinking going on 4 years now, and selling for 3. My husband doesn’t mark it up at all, nor do most of the grocery stores around here who carry it, they just like to offer it to their customers. For my husband, who runs a auto repair shop and convenience store, he had a dairy license and began carrying the milk so we wouldn’t have to drive so far to get it.

Raw milk is unpasteurized, and non-homogenized. This means it is whole milk with cream on the top. It tastes fantastic, like nothing you’ve ever had from a store. And its healthy too. Pasteurization began to protect children and adults from the very poor standards at city dairies in the early 1900’s. Raw dairies these days are extremely sanitary, and generally use milk cows like Jerseys or Guernseys who don’t add extra hormones to their milk like Holsteins do (all Holsteins pituitaries are naturally amped up so that they will give unnaturally high amounts of milk each day, so they put out large amounts of hormones in their milk, whether they are given rbgh or not.) And raw milk is loaded with good bacteria, aka probiotics, that strengthen your immunity and improve digestion. For more info about raw milk, go to realmilk.com