The Work of Worry

Worry is such a bother! Maybe that’s too clearly stating the obvious for the beginning of a post, but I will say it anyway.

I know certain amounts of stress or ‘worry’ are valuable physiologically because they help us react in important or dangerous situations and motivate us in others. Too much worry, though, is counterproductive. Usually I come down in a healthy spot between these two places, but I still question the future and other unknowns more than I should.

Farming and harvest can do that to you — even with all the goodness they bring –but sometimes I even worry about silly things like the mess in my laundry room and the stains I still need to scrub out of the basement sink or the carpet. 

When I pray I know deeply that God wants me to trust and follow instead of cling to my worries. He will take care of our farm and our family, and He might even have other things in His plan that I can’t even imagine yet. 

I’m human and I will continue to make mistakes my entire life, so maybe I should take a small comfort in those imperfections? I can’t worry about everything turning out ‘perfect and right’ according to my plan because it won’t, but I can feel secure that the larger plan is better. 

This post isn’t meant to be melancholy, just honest. I haven’t written a lot this fall, so it seems fitting to end by showing you some of the goodness and beauty I can and should be focusing on this season.


Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Baby Calf Care, Christian Reflections | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Wisconsin and back

Hello readers, and greetings from Wisconsin! Actually I’m back in Minnesota as I write this, but I was in Wisconsin when I was thinking about writing it.

We spent several days this week in Madison taking in the sights, cattle, and giant trade show of World  Dairy Expo. It is astounding the array of machinery, milking equipment, calf care products, building innovations, veterinary supplies, and other dairy industry stuff you can find to explore. You can also find beautiful rural art, notecards, and farm signs in addition to plenty of food and snacks. You end up wanting things you didn’t even know you needed! Kind of like a race expo. 

We also picked up our new-to-us calf milk pasteurizer in southern Wisconsin and returned home with a very full pickup truck. (That black box in the way back is a dishwasher from my sister who lives near Madison. I’m pretty much thrilled with the prospect of less time doing dishes.)


Southwest Wisconsin is rolling and beautiful dairy country with roads that keep you guessing around every bend. The farmers and milk truck drivers of the area must have nerves of steel during icy winters. 

Any dairy event means we run into friends and fellow farmers — even when we cross state lines. It’s great to talk and catch up, and usually we always get a new idea or learn something we can bring back and try on our own farm. We also have friends who bring cattle out to the show, and it’s fun to see their beautiful bovines. 

In case you’re intetested, I didn’t run a single step in Wisconsin. That’s mostly because we did so much walking everyday, but I also wasn’t excited about running in our busy hotel area in the dark. Normally I love running in new places when I’m out of town, so I was a little disappointed in myself. I suppose Madison isn’t really new to me though, and I’ve run here several times before during expo. I’ll just have to work a little bit harder to take advantage of the perfect October weather now that I’m back home. 

Speaking of October, I think it snuck up extra quickly this year. Happy fall, and I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into World Dairy Expo. 

Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Cows, Running | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Silage is like Sauerkraut

Silage is like sauerkraut. And around here we’re making both this fall!

In case you aren’t familiar, here’s an earlier post of mine about silage. If you don’t feel like clicking through, I’ll just tell you corn silage is made by chopping up the whole corn plant, packing it down into a silo or pile, and letting it ferment. This creates an easily digestible and nutritious animal feed.

Sauerkraut isn’t that much different. When making traditional fermented sauerkraut, you finely slice or grate the cabbage, pack and smash it tightly in a crock, and leave it to ferment. And you need to add the proper portion of salt as you pack it. The literal translation from German means ‘sour cabbage,’ and I’d say that is a pretty accurate description.

Merriam Webster online tells me that silage is “Fodder converted into succulent feed for livestock through processes of anaerobic acid fermentation (as in a silo). Short for  ensilage, first use 1884.”

When I ask Webster about sauerkraut I get “Cabbage cut fine and fermented in a brine made of its own juice with salt. German, from sauer sour + kraut greens, first use 1617.”

Maybe that is more language education than you wanted on a weekday, but I still think it’s interesting. We finished our corn silage one week ago today, and we made the last crock (of two) of sauerkraut on Saturday. This is the second time we’ve grown lots of cabbage and attempted sauerkraut, but it’s the first time we have had real fermenting crocks. Last time it was definitely edible but a little salty and we had to scrape off a lot of spoilage. I’m hoping this time things are smoother. I’ll know in another month or two. 
I wasn’t kidding about lots of cabbage. If you think this was a smooth process where we knew what we were doing, well, it wasn’t. The process isn’t too hard, but between grating and smashing your arms eventually go limp and your kitchen gets messier and messier. And everything has a pungent aroma for a few days.

Almost 90 pounds of cabbage later sauerkraut 2015 is complete. If you have specific questions about making it let me know. Otherwise I’ll keep you posted on the results. 


Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Cooking and Foods, Crops | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Five Years

Happy five years — to me! Yes, five years ago I created a wordpress site and wrote my first post here on Cow Spots and Tales. 

My blogiversary also means it’s the birthday of our blog cow, Henrietta. She turns four today, and she’s busy enjoying the mild autumn weather.

She’s also busy growing a baby who is due in November! It’s hard to believe how quickly she grew from a tiny calf herself to cow about to have her third baby. 

It has been a busy September so far on the farm as we finished making grass meadow hay, chopped our corn silage, and continued on with all the daily work of the dairy. We’ve also been trying to make use of the abundance our garden is still producing.

School has started again so I’m back to teaching my Wednesday afternoon class at church too. I have several blog posts about harvest and fall in the works, and I hope to get them up soon now that the craziness of silage is finished.

In the meantime, I had to stop in today and acknowledge five years. I’m so grateful for all the support, comments, and time readers have spent here over this half decade. I wish you a lovely September weekend, and thanks for stopping in.


Posted in Henrietta (Etta for short!), This and That | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Last of Summer

You wouldn’t know it by the warm, breezy sunshine covering our farm, but I think the last right of summer has passed. What does that mean exactly?

Well, to me it means September is here, school has started again, and that last right of summer for Minnesota — state fair — is done for another year. 

I do love fall, and I’m ready for harvest, pumpkins, sweatshirts, and autumn leaves etc. But before I jump into fall I’ve got to recap our day at the state fair. We managed to spend over twelve hours last Wednesday soaking in the fair, and we hung out with my parents who came to see the open class dairy cattle show. 

I started the day with French toast and berries covered in fresh whipped cream and then got my real breakfast fix with a Turkey to Go breakfast sandwich filled with delicious shredded meat, eggs, and cheese. 

As you might suspect, the eating continued most of the day. We had fun exploring both traditional and new exhibits, and we decided to ride the Ye Old Mill for its 100th anniversary at the fair. 


I always need to get dairy at the dairy goodness bar! 

We spent much of the afternoon and evening watching the glamorous dairy show cows, browsing the barns, and catching up with many friends. The state fair is a big place, but I love how we always see familiar faces when we get close to the livestock barns!


Mom and I enjoying a handy state fair bench. 

Every year I wonder how many miles we walk at the fair, and I keep forgetting to do something about my curiosity. Sometime I’ll remember a fully charged GPS watch so I can finally get an answer.

Until next year, stay cool #mnstatefair! 

Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Cows, Family Fun | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment