Fair Time Again

The Minnesota State Fair is a wonder. I know I don’t have experience at other state fairs to personally compare, but I’m certain our fair is something special.

Between the barns and exhibits, endless and imaginative food choices, entertainment of all sorts, vendors for everything, and over 1 million visitors each year, the fair is a major highlight for many Minnesotans and beyond.

Maybe I just have extra fond memories and nostalgia because my parents always brought us to the fair growing up. I don’t know how my mom kept track of five little girls at the busy fairgrounds, but I’m grateful and in awe. Once I was old enough I looked forward to bringing my own dairy cow or heifer and also doing other projects like fashion revue. (Yes, I got to model clothes in the youth 4-H competition back in the day. :-) )

The fair always runs for twelve days ending Labor Day, and this year we went on day two. Rain kept putting off our efforts to cut hay, so JR and I decided we would go before hay while we had the chance. I secretly had hopes of returning sometime Labor Day weekend, but alas, it was not to be.

Because we both exhibited livestock for many years and also worked at the fair in various capacities during our college years, we usually see a lot of familiar faces. As we get older though, fewer of our friends are able to take extended time to work or be at the fair. We still had a great afternoon bumping into several friends, and we had more time to taste all the things!

We went with a lot of savory versus sweet, but we did top off the day with a milkshake.

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My friend Amanda is describing how to milk a cow!

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One thing I did miss this year was the 5K Milk Run. I was all signed up with a number, but schedules got nuts and I couldn’t get away from the farm Sunday morning. Even when I plan on something, sometimes I’ve just got to stay home and do what the farm and the animals need. I’m sure any farmer (or business owner) can relate. We actually started cutting hay that afternoon and were lucky to get it chopped and covered Wednesday in between rain showers.

Team Dairy still had a great showing in spite of the warm, humid conditions. (Though I don’t think it was as hot as last year’s sauna!) Congrats to all the runners!

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Now it’s Labor Day night, and many of you have back to school activities gearing up tomorrow. Whatever fall brings, I wish you a happy start. Don’t forget to include some protein (maybe milk or Greek yogurt??) in breakfast tomorrow for a great start to the year.

This little Labor Day baby agrees.

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Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Cooking and Foods, Cows, Family Fun | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Calf Gets a Name

Over the last three weeks I’ve watched “little Etta” grow and learn, but I still haven’t given her a name!

I got a great name suggestion by email earlier this week, and it reminded me it was time to decide. I shared a few new pictures via twitter and Instagram yesterday which yielded even more ideas, so now I’ve got way too many good choices!

I went with random number selection, so I’ll list all the ideas below by number submitted and then share the winner. Thanks to all for taking time to give me your ideas. I know things are busy as summer winds down, but the cows and I appreciate you reading!

1) Cinderella (Ella)

2) Bordeaux (Deaux)

3) Lucille (Lucy)

4) Greta

5) Corazon (Cora)

6) Nevada

7) Hillary

8) Heidi

9) Jetta (Etta’s Jetta)

10) Sugar

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The pick is lucky number 3. In honor of sharing Lucille Ball’s birthday, this is little Lucille.

Have a great day everyone, and check back soon for more tales from the farm and maybe some tales from the state fair!

Posted in Baby Calf Care, Henrietta (Etta for short!) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

It’s the Middle of August!

We can all read the calendar, but yesterday seeing “August 17th” really surprised me. September and fall are closing in on summer, and many of your households have already or will soon start the next school year.

The days keep moving by quickly at the farm, and JR and I finally realized we needed to make time for a few things we had on our summer agenda.

Several of those are yard cleaning, fence fixing, and stuff organizing
projects that may spill over into next year (gah!), but others are less work and more play.

Enter our bikes. You might remember when I introduced them last summer, and we definitely enjoyed some miles through the fall. It took us a long time to break out the bikes this year though — between a late wet spring, farming in general, marathon training, and busy weekends.

{One such weekend featured my nephew Adam’s baptism, which was a great time to celebrate his arrival and gather our whole family together.}

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I enjoy our bikes because it’s something we usually do together. I like solo exercise too, but it’s fun to know you have an “ally ” right in front or behind. We’ve talked about a small day trip, but the farthest we’ve gotten is 30 minutes or an hour in the evening after work. Daylight is shortening, and last week JR got us headlights and tail lights so we’re more visible coming home at dusk.

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I’m still a work in progress, but I’m happy to be a little more confident and strong on my bike than I was a month ago.

We also still have flowers blooming, and I thought I’d share the last colorful update of the summer. This is what August looks like.

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I realize I haven’t yet named Etta’s daughter, and I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll leave it open for a little while in case any of you with suggestions have been on hiatus from reading this summer. :-)

If you missed it, here’s the post on Etta’s new heifer calf. She was born August 6th.

You can leave your name suggestion directly on this post or over on the original. I will definitely pick a name by the end of the month! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of August.

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Posted in Gardening and Yard Stuff, Henrietta (Etta for short!) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

And Then We Can Pray

The world and the humanity in it are very mysterious to me sometimes. We are born, we live, and then we die. Some lives are full of happiness and abundance while other lives get more than their share of sorrow. Why is that? Life can be short or long, but in the realm of eternity all human life is basically a fleeting speck.

That doesn’t mean it’s not important. God cares about His creation, and we know he watches over the sparrow as well as every hair on our head.

Lately I’ve had a hard time reconciling God’s power over and love for the world with all the pain in it. My head knows free will and human sin create the tragedy we continually hear about across the globe, but my heart just wants it to stop.

I don’t watch a lot of television coverage, but I often turn on radio news or follow international headlines online. I think we need to understand who is hurting and what the challenges are so we can care more deeply. Being ignorant certainly won’t make a difference, so I see power in knowing. Sometimes I can directly donate time or money to a cause or call someone in power to express concern.

I can also worry and stew until I’m exhausted by the effort. Scripture has so many examples of pain, suffering, and war that they would be impossible to count. The commonality between them is the response we can turn to.

Cry out to God. Jonah. Joel. Mary and Joseph. Noah. David. Paul. Jesus himself.

Whether in prayer, gratitude, or desperation, God’s people can speak to Him. When we wonder what to do, we should pray. We can pray with others or pray alone, and either way, God always listens.

I don’t write a news blog or a political blog, but I do write a human blog. I hope to share insights – big or small – that matter, and sometimes that means issues beyond the farm fields and running paths I frequent. I pray that no matter what resolution you believe in on these issues, we can all agree they need our concern and our prayers. Maybe you’ll also include many of these when you next share your thoughts with God.

- Africa; for those dealing with Ebola and the fear and death it brings. I pray for the right resources, people, and strategy to help contain this deadly disease and heal the sick. I heard a 93-year-old man speak about Ebola last week, and he had spent decades of his life serving as a doctor and medical missionary in the now-affected region of Africa. He asked for our prayers, and now I ask for yours.

- Iraq; for the people hurting, starving, afraid, killed, and killing. I ask for God’s love, and I pray that somehow diplomacy and peaceful means can work to stop violence. I pray for all our military personnel in this dangerous situation and for all our servicemen and women elsewhere across the world too.

- Syria; another closely related conflict full of suffering and years of war. I pray for refuge, healing, and peace for this country. I pray for the young generation that is growing up only knowing war.

- Gaza, Israel, and Palestine; I pray for everyone experiencing loss and violence in this region. I know the dynamics are so challenging here, and I don’t know what the answer is. Still, I desperately hope a permanent ceasefire and lasting peace can come.

- Ukraine; I pray for stability in Ukraine and an honest, secure government. I pray for peace, and I pray for healing to all the families who lost loved ones on flight 17 shot down last month.

- Worldwide; I pray for those injustices that don’t make headlines. I pray for God’s love and healing to reach those living in poverty, for women and girls facing trafficking or abuse, for workers in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, for countries full of violence, and for those lacking basic necessities like enough clean water, food, and shelter.

- The United States Southern border; I pray for the immigrant crisis and all the lives impacted. I pray for enough resources to humanely care for people. I pray that Americans can remember our heritage as a nation of immigrants and empathize with those trying to make a fresh start away from corruption, violence, and poverty. I pray for greater peace, stability, and prosperity throughout Central America and Mexico as well. I know things are far from perfect in any country, but I believe strongly in loving thy neighbor and working to help those who want to be here in America.

- Ferguson, Missouri; I pray for healing in this community. I pray for the family that lost their son and a town that lost a promising teenager. For those trying to make sense of the situation and those trying to stabilize it. I hope that peaceful protest can bring positive change and no more sadness to this grieving community.

- A prayer of thanks; I pray my thanks to God for the beauty of creation and the blessings He provides. Whether I feel my worst or my best, He always gives wisdom and love. I ask to be fully thankful for what I have and to do my best to share it with those who do not have.

Wishing you peace and blessings from God and the desire to shine His light to others. Amen.

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* Lest you be wondering, I’m also a realist. I know that praying for the best doesn’t mean it will happen in this life. I know most world conflicts are way more complex than I can even understand, and the history of hurt and injustice can run deep. I imagine I have wider political views than you may think, and I know governments or organizations alone can’t and shouldn’t solve everything. This post is meant to be a simple call for better, and I hope you can see that as you read.

Posted in Christian Reflections | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Henrietta Plus Two

Before I went home last night I walked through pen five, just as I usually do. Pen five houses our close-up cows. “Close-up” meaning they are close to their due date to give birth. I didn’t see any new calves or cows in labor, but I did see that Etta, our blog cow, looked almost ready.

She is due August 7th, and I could tell her udder was starting to swell with milk. She was chewing her cud contentedly enough, so I patted her head and just wondered as I walked back up through the barn.

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When I got to the farm this morning, I saw “3337 – Heifer” written on the calf board. Once again, Etta managed to have her baby at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning so I missed the whole thing!

Baby looked sleek and happy when I went to double check that she was indeed a girl. (She was.)

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She looks very much like her mother with a black body, all black nose, and just a simple white triangle on her forehead.

Etta herself is doing well too. After calving, she got milked within an hour, and 1 gallon of fresh milk was fed to baby. We feed the calf instead of letting her nurse so we can make sure the milk is good quality and that the calf drinks enough.

Etta herself got two of these nice, green vitamin pills, plus calcium.

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Calcium is very important because a cow’s blood calcium gets lower after giving birth. There are many stressors and demands on the cow’s body, plus lots of calcium goes into the milk she is starting to produce. Supplemental calcium and monitoring can be especially needed for older cows.

You can give a large calcium pill (bolus), paste, or powdered mix. If a cow is critically low, than a calcium IV solution is given.

Now Etta will move into our fresh cow pen for the next 30 days or so, and then she will move to one of the larger main milking pens for the rest of her lactation. On a dairy farm the term “fresh cow” is used to describe a cow that has just given birth, and “freshening date” is another way of describing the day she had a calf.

Baby got her ear tags this afternoon, and she was also hungry for a full bottle. Usually calves are sluggish to drink the second feeding if they drink a full gallon at birth, but not this girl!

Now we just need a name. Today happens to be my parent’s anniversary and my oldest sister’s anniversary, so I thought I’d pick a lovey-dovey name. But I couldn’t really think of anything. Besides — it’s much more fun to let my readers name her.

Etta’s first baby last year is Sophia, and now I’d love to hear your suggestion for baby girl number two.

I’ll pick a name at random later this month from all names in the comments. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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Posted in Baby Calf Care, Cows, Henrietta (Etta for short!) | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments