Interesting Tidbit on Winter Feeding…

Feeding methods cost:

A three year wintering investigation was conducted at Dickinson Research Extension Center in North Dakota to determine the effect of hay feeding methods on cow wintering cost. The average amount of hay wasted needs to be calculated when determining how much hay to provide to cows every day or when making forage purchases. A conventional method of rolling round bales out on the grounds was compared to either shredding rounds hay bales on the ground with a bale processor or feeding hay in a tapered-cone round bale feeder. The cows used in the study were in the third trimester of pregnancy and were fed for an average of 59 days during the test period. This study compared cow wintering performance, hay consumption necessary to maintain cow body condition, labor inputs, wintering cost, and hay waste, when hay was either rolled out on the ground, shredded with a bale processor on the ground, or fed in a tapered-cone round bale feeder.

Cow growth, body condition, hay intake, fat depth, and waste data were collected for three years. Cows were weighed, visually condition scored, and measured for rib fat depth using real-time ultrasound at the beginning, middle, and end of the 59-day study between the 12th and 13th rib. Hay waste was estimated manually and with GPS special mapping. Cows were fed to maintain or improve their starting body condition prior to calving.

Cows fed using the conventional method in which bales are rolled out on the ground gained less than when cows were fed with either the bale processor or tapered-cone feeder. Starting, ending and condition score change differed between years, but there were no differences due to method of feeding hay. During the first two years of the study, cows fed using the tapered-cone feeder had greater rib fat depth increase than either the roll out or bale processor methods. There was no difference among feeding methods in the third year. Hay intake to maintain body condition was greatest for the cows fed with the bale processor and lowest for the tapered-cone bale feeder. On average, when compared to the tapered-cone feeder, 5.0 and 15.3% more hay was fed per cow using the roll out and bale processor methods, respectively.

Waste contributed to the increased amount of hay required among the roll out and bale processor cow groups to maintain body condition and subsequent production. This study indicates that if you are feeding hay on the ground, add at least 15 percent to the total amount fed or purchased to compensate for waste. For example, if you normally feed 28-30 lbs per head per day, increase that amount to 33-35 pounds of hay to ensure that adequate nutrition is provided to the cow on a daily basis. If you are feeding on mud, then doubling the amount will help compensate for waste. When calculating the amount of hay needed to feed the cow herd during the winter, remember to compensate for waste.

Source: Landblom, D.G., G.P. Lardy, R. Fast, D.J. Wachenheim, and T.A. Petry. 2006. Effect of hay feeding methods on cow performance, hay waste and wintering cost. Dickinson Research Extension Center North Dakota State University 2006 Annual Report.

Barbacoa

Servings: 8 Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 3-4 Hours


INSTRUCTIONS

2 guajillo chiles

2 ancho chiles

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1-1/2 teaspoons piloncillo or brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water, or more as necessary

2-3 pounds boneless leg of American Lamb, trimmed of most fat visible

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Rip open the chiles and remove the seeds, veins and stems. Heat a large skillet over medium-low, add the chiles and toast them in the dry pan, turning them over until they are fragrant, about one minute. Transfer chiles to a saucepan with enough water to cover chiles and bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and let rest for 10 minutes or until the chiles are soft. Drain the chiles and discard the water.

Combine the drained chiles, garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, honey, apple cider and water in a blender and puree until the mixture is thick but smooth.

Pour some of the chile sauce into a large Dutch oven or ovenproof casserole with a lid and top with the meat. Rub the lamb with enough chile sauce to generously coat it. Close the lid and transfer to the oven immediately. Bake the lamb for 3-4 hours or until the meat is very tender. Alternatively, you can marinate overnight in the refrigerator and back the next day.

Remove the casserole from the oven and let the meat cool. Coarsely shred the meat with forks, discarding any visible fat. Serve with corn tortillas, avocado and salsa, or any remaining chile sauce.

When Is It Safe To Graze Alfalfa Fields?

Grazing alfalfa in the late fall can be a great economical feed source. However, with these warmer fall temperatures (or lack of hard frosts) and high cattle and lamb prices can create a situation where bloat could be very costly. There are no “for sure” rules to determine when alfalfa is “safe” to graze, however below are some things produces should consider when turning out on alfalfa fields: 

1. Use caution when alfalfa plants are just beginning to show frost damage, this is when alfalfa grazing can be the most dangerous for bloats. Hard frost/freeze ruptures alfalfa cell wells, resulting in more soluble protein being immediately available for consumption by the animal. The increase in the soluble protein increases the rate of rumen fermentation, thus increasing the risk of bloat. Alfalfa generally becomes “safer” to graze after several consecutive frost in the 20’s that cause visible plant damage and drydown. 

2. Fill calves or lambs up with good quality hay prior to moving onto alfalfa fields. Not only will this help reduce animals from gorging themselves, but is also important to allow the ruminal microbial population to adapt to higher quality feeds. This is especially important if animals are coming off low quality forage (corn stalks, dry grass/range pastures). Animals should be turned out in the late morning or early afternoon, rather than early morning.  

3. Provide bloat blocks or bloat preventing additives in the water for several days before and after the start of grazing alfalfa fields. Monitor cattle several times per day when animals are turned into a new pasture.

Submitted by Sarah M. Smith

Cheese Adventures

The Aged Cheese Journey …

What do you do when you have a lovely Jersey Milk Cow who gives you 3 gallons of creamy milk every time she is milked?  When we were younger and had 4 growing children I was lucky to have extra milk to make ice cream. As the years passed we added Nubian Milk goats to the farm so I could make soft cheeses (which in this house is a staple) like Feta and Paneer.  Now that we have we have grandchildren (not yet teenagers) I am finally getting to experiment with making Aged Cheese.

The process is pretty straight forward as long as you are precise in following a recipe. The hardest part for me is having the patience to age the cheese. My favorite beginner cheese making book is “A Cheese Maker’s Journey” by Mary Jane Toth.

The difficult part for me has been accumulating the equipment including a Cheese Press and weights. As you can see in the pictures I am using the grain weights from my antique grain scale. I have since found and ordered a nice 10 lb weight from www. Sausage Maker.com but until it arrives these old iron weights are working just fine.

Any advice from you more experienced cheese makers is much appreciated.

Now the adventure begins as we move up from Cheddar to Stilton….I will keep you advised on the journey. 

  • Jersey Cow
  • Cheddar pre waxed
  • Cheese WAX
  • Cheese Press

Mindful Living on the Farm

I bought John Seymour’s “Self Sufficient Life and how to live it”. I have been wanting it for years and finally bought it for our Farm Library. I have only gotten to page 23 and already have learned much. Seymour states “There should be no need for a garbage man on the self-sufficient farm.” I have for years fed or composted everything I could but this simple statement made me evaluate what else I could recycle to benefit my farm (without becoming a Hoarder of Junk). We only make “dump runs” once every eight weeks but I think fully 20% of that load would easily be burnable in my stove in the garage or compostable as well. I have lamented that I never have enough ash for the garden….yet I have been happily paying to let the county burn it. Do you ever have those “Duh” moments? Living simply really means Living Mindfully. Sometimes I just go into auto pilot until something triggers the ‘change your perspective’ button.

Dreaming of Farming?

How much land do you need? How many and what kind of animals? Start where you are and take small steps toward your goals…you will get there. The important thing is to start.

For years we talked of farming, being self-sufficient and someday; then one day we realized that was what we had been doing all along. You don’t need a large homestead to farm – hundreds of acres and just as many animals. All you need is to make the most of what you do have. If you are a good steward of what you have it will grow and before you know it you will be asking yourself if you want to take on more or be content with what you are busy doing now.

Fig- Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds boneless leg of American lamb
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup mixed herbs combined (parsley, mint, thyme)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 7 Orchard Valley Choice Mission Figs
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Start by making the marinade.

In a food processor you’ll add the garlic, lemon juice, herbs, olive oil, seasoning and a dash of nutmeg (optional).

Remove the marinade and leave about two tablespoons of it in your food processor, to which you will add the filing ingredients. 

Add the feta cheese, pistachios and the figs. 

Process the filling in the food processor until it’s chunky.

Take your boneless leg of lamb and place it on a piece of parchment paper.

Spread the marinade all over the outer part of the lamb, and then flip the lamb to the other side. 

Spread the filling evenly all over the other side (the inside). 

Use the parchment paper as a guide and roll the lamb like a cylinder, tucking it well as you roll using the parchment paper.

Use kitchen twines cut into 6 inch ropes to tie the lamb very well about half an inch apart.

Place the lamb in the oven and right away drop the temperature to 350 degrees F.

Roast the lamb uncovered for about 50-60 minutes. Use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temperature is 145 degrees F for medium rare, then let the lamb rest for at least 3 minutes before slicing.

Serve the lamb with an extra side of rice, some dried figs and a sprinkle of pistachios.

Shepherd’s Pie

INGREDIENTS

FILLING

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground American lamb
  • 1- 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn

TOPPING

  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium low heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.

Add the carrots to the onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate or just push off to one side of the pan.

In the same pan, add the ground lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Season with the salt and pepper, then mix the lamb with the vegetables and cook, stirring and continuing to break up the chunks of meat frequently, until the lamb is browned, about 10 minutes.

To the lamb and vegetable mixture, add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Sprinkle with the flour, then stir in to the meat mixture until evenly dispersed, cooking for 1-2 minutes.

Add the beef broth and cook for 3-5 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Then stir in the frozen peas and corn. Remove from heat and let cool while working on the mashed potatoes. Either leave in the cast iron pan, if it is oven safe, or transfer to a square baking dish.

Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover them by about an inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. Drain well.

Add the warmed cream, butter, and salt to the potatoes and mash using a potato masher or ricer, then use to top the shepherd’s pie filling in either the cast iron pan or a square baking dish, spreading to the edges and leaving craggy swirls on top instead of smoothing out.

Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F until hot all the way through and the mashed potatoes on top have nicely browned spots in a few places. You may want to place a pan under it in case any filling drips out. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

March Madness

March is the month when January planning and February preparing begins to pay off. The lambs and kids have begun to arrive by now as have the piglets. The seeds I ordered, after pouring over the seed catalogs, have also arrived and will soon all be nestled in the soil germinating. The chickens have begun to lay, so now the routine of checking on and turning eggs in the incubator has been added to the day.

     The renewing of life as spring fast approaches is a delightful time and a hectic time. The first fleeces are off the sheep. I always try to shear before the ewes lamb for two reasons. First, it makes it easier to watch over their progress toward lambing and secondly, it makes for a premium, clean fleece to work with. Now the dilemma is over which fleeces to sell raw, which to make into batts or roving and which go into my private treasury.

     March is also the month for marketing to be kicked into high gear. The annual farm letter goes out to alert our loyal customers that they need to place their orders for meat animals for this year. Web and print advertising go full scale as we are weekly adding Breeding Stock available for sale and soon the spring’s first crops of fleece and seedlings as well. It is wonderful to have the explosion of production and now is the time to share this with our customers.

      Amidst all this activity there is the list of preparations for spring planting as well as fence repairs on all the paddocks. I swear there are gremlins riding the deer who delight in breaking wires and pushing posts over in the spring thaw.

     This is the time of year when I often allow the excitement of renewal to turn into worry over all that needs to get done and finding the time to do it. This is when the planning and preparing of January and February becomes the ever growing “to do” list of spring. Having a Check List on the fridge helps me track my progress, keeping me feeling like I am gaining on the tasks at hand.

     I often remind myself that Christ said, “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Keeping my focus on the tasks of today leads to enjoying the delights of spring from the first returning robin to the first tomato sprouts. This is the way to relish a farmer’s life in the midst of all the activity that spring brings.

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