Resharing a post from last year

I was looking for something in an old post recently. Remember, this blog is my record book. What cow was born when, did we process number 23, how much hay did we buy last year? That kind of stuff. While scrolling back through the archives, I came across a post about the girls and what they do on a slow day in the store.

Kathy Bates with knife
This isn’t actually my darling Mrs. But….

I giggled reading the post, remembering that day. The girls are crazy, and they were kind enough to document their craziness for me this time. Maybe it is funnier to me because I get to see them when customers aren’t around but I thought it was worth reposting for those of you who don’t get to see them off duty.

Here is the original post. 

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Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

The end of winter feeding

We have two seasons here on the farm. Grazing season, and winter feeding. The goal on a cattle farm is to make grazing season last as long as possible, thereby shortening winter feeding to be as short as possible. Winter feeding involves purchased hay, which is a large expense on a cattle farm.

Part of achieving that goal is completely counterintuitive though. Step one is to keep the cows off of our pastures as long as possible in the spring. This lets our grass get a good jump on growth, establish plenty of leaf material, and be more than ready to graze. That means grass that is at least 12″ tall before we turn the cows on it. The cows then graze off about 4-5″ of grass in their one day grazing rotation, leaving 7-8″ of grass soaking up the sun and steady making new grass to eat. By leaving grass behind, we actually grow more grass long term because the grass is a much more efficient solar collector when we leave some leaf material. Basically we have more grass on the second grazing than if we turned them in early and/or let them eat more of the grass.

before grazing, with grazing marker in view.
Before grazing, the grass is full and lush. 100% ground coverage and averaging 12″ tall.

Back in February, when it was 80 degrees and it seemed that summer was nearly here, we had grass that was already 6″ tall and looking great. I had a wall of hay left and we were discussing how long till our momma cows went to our leased farm, and what we were going to do with all the leftover hay.

Enter March. Which was colder than February on the East coast. Argh! March is supposed to be when spring has sprung. Instead it snowed, it has frozen all the buds off of my fruit trees, and as I sit here on April 10th, typing away, I’m still wearing long pants, shoes, an overshirt, a vest, and I’m cold. Basically my winter apparel. I should be in shorts and flip flops in April, in NC.

Yesterday we fed our last bale of hay. We ran out. Today our cows go onto grass that is basically the same height as it was in February. The sun hasn’t been out, except on cold clear days, and I cannot recall an 80 degree day although we are supposed to finally get to 80 degrees by Friday. Instead of being well ahead of the curve, this cold weather has us behind. No hay, not enough grass, and cows that need some fattening up asap. We’ll be fine, once the heat shows up the grass will explode and we’ll be playing catchup. We have so much organic matter in our soil that the grass really responds once it has some spring weather to work with. But I don’t like running up against the edge of things.

The good news is we’ll be able to start our tours going back out to the herd in their daily paddocks. And the sacrificial paddock will finally be able to start recovering. I flew over the farm a few weeks ago with a cadet while on an O flight. It looked green, except for where the grass hasn’t recovered yet, which was a fairly large area. It kinds looked like the farm had been bombed. I’m looking forward to my next flight and seeing everything green everywhere!

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Pieces & Parts & Goats Milk

Boston butt pork steaks

Dog, cats, ferrets &  Soap Crafters, what do they all have in common?

Pork!!!

Dan surprised Jeanette & I today with our special request for

Tails,  Fat Back( what you use for lard), Liver, Heart , & Feet are now all in stock in .

Prices

Tails- $4.50 per pound- Not only a great for pets but also great for stews and veggies.

Fat Back  $4 per pound if you want lard or to make your own soap this fat is gold.

Liver-$4  per pound liverwurst, Scrapple or liver pudding you know you want to make your own this summer to go with all those fresh garden veggies. We have a few books in the store to steal some recipes out of for these dishes

Heart- $2.99  per pound great for adventurous eaters (slice and cook like a steak) or for pets

Feet- $2.50 per pound.  These are my secret ingredient to so many dishes. I smoke them then add them to beans, collards and pork bone broth. Oh yes, pork broth should be its own magical food group.

Ears-$4 per pound. Not just a great dog treat, these are also my favorite bar food.  I braise these till tender (280 F in a dutch oven for 2 hours) then slice and fry.

Neck Bone-$4 per pound try a new flavor of  bone broth. If you love beans this will add an extra depth of flavor to them.

Finally Raw Goats Milk ($5 per 1/2 gallon) is back in the store on Fridays and Saturdays. The supply will be limited. Please let Lucy know by Monday if you need an order. Several of the area veterinarians in the area have suggested this for orphaned pets or pets going through medical issues such as Chemo or on raw food diets. Please check with your own veterinarians to see if this is right for you.

,

Store Manager and resident chef at Ninja Cow Farm LLC
Lucy lives and works on Ninja Cow Farm. Most days you'll find her tending to the garden or working in the store. She's cooked in restaurants and as a Personal Chef.

Our CSA has started!

Jen delivering her first load of produce for our CSA program
Jen delivering her first load of produce for our CSA program

I had a surprise visit on Wednesday from our CSA farmer. She’d apparently lost her phone and couldn’t text me she was coming, but that was ok. I was just glad I saw her and all her fresh produce!

With this never ending winter, even a few warm days didn’t have me feeling like spring yet. Isn’t there still snow in the forecast for Saturday night?!

But seeing boxes of fresh produce unloading from the car, and seeing all the customers come swarming in to pick them up, made me feel like for just a few hours it was indeed spring.

We are super excited to finally have a produce CSA. Thank you to the customers who stepped up and committed for this spring season. We’ll have signups for more CSA positions later in the year for those who missed out this time.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

The CFSA farm tour is coming this month

Lynn and daughters from Lee's produce
Lynn and her daughters at our event.

When we first decided to be part of the farm tour, we wanted to be part of the spring tour because that was the big one. However they had implemented a fall tour and we ended up on that one instead. We enjoy the fall tour, and we’ve had good weather, but I always wanted to be on the spring tour to kick off our warm season rather than winding it up with the fall tour. Plus the spring tour is the original one, it is where all the cool kids hang out.

Guess who is on the spring tour this year?! Actually, everyone is. They have consolidated the fall tour into the spring tour making for one gigantic tour this April 28th-29th. You can see all about the tour  and purchase tickets here.

We’ll have brochures showing up this week so you can grab one when you are in the store but mark your calendars. This will be the biggest farm tour I’ve ever seen with many, many farms that you can go and visit. The cost is per carload, not per person, so designate a driver and grab some friends for a fun weekend. And make sure you come and visit us. We’ll have on our Sunday best.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

A tractor trailer load of cantaloupes

Miguel sorta casually mentioned there was a truck coming. Not too unusual. Normally we go get the produce but sometimes we get a delivery. We like deliveries. They save us time, fuel, tires, brakes, etc.

Then he slipped in it was an 18 wheeler. Oh, now that is a little different. We usually get one or two of those a year. What are we getting this time?

Cantaloupes. Oh goody, those are almost as good as watermelons. Everyone on the farm eats cantaloupe and they are easy to unpack and get ready for the animals.

Food bank truck full of produce
Food bank truck full of produce

The truck was late, of course. The downside to deliveries is they are never on time. Apparently the driver had had a flat tire so that is understandable. Often it is just they didn’t come when they promised so at least this time it was legitimate.

Bringing the pallets to the edge so we can offload them
Bringing the pallets to the edge so we can offload them

The problem with something like a tractor trailer of produce is that we don’t normally have the setup for offloading them. Miguel borrowed this pallet jack so we could move the pallets from the front of the truck to the back where we could reach them with the tractor. We certainly aren’t complaining about all this goodness showing up, but it is different from what we are normally setup for. It just takes a bit of a different approach.

Pallets of cantaloupes
This isn’t even all of them

Everyone on the farm is munching on cantaloupes for the next few weeks, which is a God send. We have been doing well this winter on produce, but having something like this gives us a ton more flexibility. Almost as much as the truck driver needed to get out of the farm. He was too tall to get under our power lines so we had to back him up onto a side road. While good natured, it was obvious he was frustrated with our tight quarters. I felt bad for the guy, but he did a great job getting out.

Now if I could just talk Duke Power into raising out power lines up to where they are supposed to be. I’ve tried in the past. No luck.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

Why am I getting up so early?

This past week we have been back to milking around here. No, not we as a farm, we as in Spork and myself, and Lucy. Erin and Mark have about 1.5 weeks off from milking so everyone else has jumped in to cover their job.

I milked every day when we first started milking cows. It is fun and it turns into a routine after a week or so, so that you don’t even mind it. It actually is a nice start to the day. We only milk once per day anyway so it really is just an adjustment to your morning. Erin and Mark have taken over milking so 99% of the time they take care of it now, which is awesome. But then Lucy moved onto the farm and she was eager to learn how to milk. Good. That takes care of the other 1%

So when Erin wasn’t available, Lucy would tag in and milk. But that usually meant Lucy and her husband Jason. Either way, it didn’t mean that I had to get back into it, for which I was thankful.

I usually wake up bright and early, and I’m already well behind. There are always posts to write, bills to pay, accounting to do, etc, etc. Basically, I can never leave the office all day, and still never be truly caught up. If I do leave the office, there is no shortage of things to do on the farm. Not needing to go milk too is a blessing and lets me start my day doing something that I really need to get done.

But then Jason hurt his shoulder, as in you’re having surgery tomorrow hurt. So he was out of commission. Everyone else was already doing all they could, so Spork and I had to tag back in on milking. No worries, I’ve done this before. I let Lucy take lead since she was doing the actual milking and more importantly managing Jason, and all the milking gear.

“What time do you want to milk?”

“5:00am. I’m up anyway with Jason.”

Calf nursing Betsy
After milking, the calves are eager to get any milk that is left. The immediately nurse to get every drop that we missed

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You see, I usually get up between 4-5am anyway. 3am isn’t uncommon. I really enjoy getting up early, having that alone time first thing in the morning to get writing done, office work knocked out, etc. It is the way my dad was (3:30am every day) and it really works for me. However SWMBO HATES mornings. As in, there is nothing more important in the world than her getting to stay in bed till the last minute. If she is forced to get up, she gets up, grumps around till she does whatever she has been forced to do, then goes back to bed. No matter if it is daytime, no matter if everyone else is already up. It is a matter of principle that she stays in bed till her self determined time to get up.

SWMBO has expressed that maybe, just maybe, I could not get up so God awful early and start stomping around the house. And on the flip side,  I could therefore actually stay awake through the movie/dinner/board game/whatever that only lasts till 8:30 but I fall asleep through it anyway. And I, through great personal effort, had accomplished this goal. I was staying awake till 9-10pm, and getting up at, gasp! 6:30 or so, sometimes even 7! I felt dirty and lazy, but I was actually seeing  my family a bit which is nice.

“Did you say milk at 5 am? Um, ok, yeah, we’ll meet you then.”

The first morning, Lucy was ragged having been up with Jason. Spork was his normal stoic self. I was putting on airs of being normally functional but I was a combination of exceedingly, head achingly tired, and a wee bit hungover. Which is a lot like day 2 at a Deere meeting so really nothing new for me. We carried on a few days like that, nobody complaining, until Lucy announced that maybe 6:30 was a better time to milk.

Characteristically. Spork and I just nodded and said ok. No big deal either way, Lucy. Inside we both sighed with relief. At 6:30 it is light instead of doing this in the dark. It also went from “God I hate winter, why is it still cold in late March!” weather to shorts and flip-flops weather. So milking has become much more pleasant for everyone this later part of the week.

Calf nursing Hedy
Hedy and her calf, also nursing immediately after mom gets back into the pasture

I think that we’ll have this down to a science just about the time that Erin takes back over. Unfortunately, I’m getting up at 4-5am again with no effort. Looks like I’m going to have to work on being lazy again.

Dan Moore on EmailDan Moore on FacebookDan Moore on GoogleDan Moore on Twitter
Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.