Some of you may have seen my live video of Allan planting our pasture a few days ago. If not, you can find it at the end of this post ;)
Long story short: I AM SO EXCITED to finally have seed in the ground! AND these rains couldn’t have come at a better time! I can't thank Allan enough for taking the time to help us out on such a beautiful day.
On Saturday we seeded 10 acres of pasture. Once this pasture is established, it will be the bulk of the feed for Abby & the steers from here on out.
In addition to the excitement of getting the seed planted, I also geeked out over the planter itself. Our neighbor did the planting for us with his no till drill. I’d never seen one up close before and I thought it was pretty neat to see how it worked!
In the pictures you can see, NP and Allan filling the seed hoppers. Did you know that there are TWO compartments? The compartments can be set to 2 different seeding rates. One compartment drills the seeds into the ground and the other broadcasts the seeds over top. This turned out to be particularly useful because we had thought that we would have to broadcast seed the ladino clover by hand after the main grass mixture was planted. As it turned out, the planter took care of both types of seeds at the same time! Talk about slick!
The whole 'no till' thing was pretty cool too. Basically the planter has discs that cut open the ground, the seed travels from the hopper down the little black tubes and gets deposited into the furrow. Finally, another disc located a little further back, turns the soil over which then covers the seed. And Voila! 400lbs of seed planted over 10 acres in a matter of a couple of hours.
Honestly, I could go on for quite a while about things like what all is in the seed mix & why & what we will do in the future to further establish a good stand. But I think each of those topics deserves their own post so watch for more on that later!
Brun Ko Farm
You guys! Short ribs make THE BEST beef and noodles! Seriously. I mean it. These were the best beef and noodles I've ever had. Comfort food at it's finest!
Annnndd they were easy to make too!! Short ribs were a cut I never bought before we began raising our own beef but I'm in love!
Begin by preparing the short ribs. I seared the ribs in a skillet before unceremoniously tossing them in the crock pot. Add one cup of water and leave the ribs plus water in the crock pot for 8 hours on low. No seasoning required! About 15 minutes before we were ready to eat, I removed the ribs and set them aside. Then poured the broth through a strainer and into a large sauce pan. I had about a quart of broth and I added a quart of water to it. Add a pinch of salt and bring the broth to a boil over medium heat and add about 4 servings of egg noodles (home made are my favorite :D). Simmer for 6-7 minutes and then remove from heat. Do NOT drain - you don't want to lose all that delicious goodness of the broth!
While the noodles are cooking, separate the meat from the ribs - the little bit that hasn't already fallen off that is :) Add meat to the noodles and serve!
Brun Ko Farm
Email me at: email@example.com to order Brun Ko Farm's own beef short ribs!
I have finally delved into the world of bone broth! I was having guests over for lunch this past weekend and so I took that as an opportunity to test my new skills ;) I planned to make barley beef soup but didn't have barley *facepalm* sooo, I ended up making a 'non-traditional' vegetable beef soup that turned out to be a crowd pleaser. But that's another story!
Back to the bone broth.
There are plenty of recipes out there for bone broth. I don't claim to have much new to add in that category but it can seem intimidating so I'm hoping that by sharing my experiences, I will inspire YOU to give something new a try too :)
Making bone broth was honestly super simple! I started by roasting my soup bones in the oven because I read that doing so would enhance the flavor. I can't give you a comparison since this is the only way I've ever done it but it sure didn't hurt anything! I just put 4 pounds of thawed soup bones on a cookie sheet, sprinkled salt and pepper on all sides, and roasted them at 425F for 30 minutes. After I roasted the soup bones, I tossed them in the crock pot along with 8 cups of water (enough to cover the bones), 4 or 5 cloves of garlic and a couple of carrots. Some recipes get pretty involved but this was simple and it worked for me! Basically, I think you can toss about anything you want in as far as vegetables or vegetable scraps go.
I cooked all of this on low for 10 hours and then strained it. I just used a colander. You might want to line the colander with cheesecloth if you are using smaller vegetable scraps. This is also when I removed the meat from the bones. To be honest, the meat fell right off and I just used a fork to break it up into smaller pieces for the stew. The amount of meat on soup bones seems to vary quite a bit. The bones themselves make excellent broth. And that's all that most people are looking for. If you end up with particularly meaty bones, it's a nice bonus though. Especially if you're making soup!
Brun Ko Farm
P.S. skip on over to our Beef Products page to check out our sale running 4/8/18-4/13/18 :)
Sometimes farming is like riding a roller coaster. And this weekend was certainly an emotional rollercoaster. We had a not so good thing happen. One of the hardest things to face on a farm actually. We had to put down one of our steers.
One evening, NP noticed that one of the steers had scours. Nothing too concerning given the weather and recent pen change. However, definitely something to keep an eye on. The next evening at chore time, we were shocked to see one of the steers laying flat out with a distended belly. We couldn't convince him to get up and based on that and several other factors, I made the decision to put him down. However, when we went back to do so, he was up and eating. Although still terrible looking, I was encouraged by the fact that he was eating. I decided to give him a chance and called the vet first thing the next morning. The vet quickly determined that the steer had developed water belly, aka a blockage caused by bladder stones. There is a surgery that can sometimes help (not cure but temporarily help) this problem, our steer wasn't a candidate due to age and advanced state of the problem so in the end we still had to put him down.
While this outcome was hard to deal with, it was a relief to know that this calf did not have something contagious and after talking to the vet and doing some further research, it seems that this was a fluke thing and largely out of our control. However, we are now armed with knowledge of early signs and will be adjusting some of our management practices just in case.
Having a good vet that you can trust is so important and we are grateful for the knowledgeable vets at AMVC in Audubon. I appreciate that they not only care for our animals but also take the time to answer my (sometimes extensive) questions.
I'm not about to tell anyone to 'enjoy every moment' because some things just stink. The ups and downs of farm life can be hard BUT we learn from the bad days and they make the good days that much sweeter. I think the good days are still worth it.
Brun Ko Farm
I suppose I could just put her in a stroller but strollers are difficult in things like snow and mud. Also, carrying her this way adds a degree of warmth and protection.
3. Maternity Sweatershirt
Don't put those maternity clothes away TOO fast! That zip up maternity sweatshirt is perfect for going on over the carrier and zipping around baby to add an extra layer of warm. For you AND baby :)
4. Snowsuit + Blanket
A warm base layer, (onsie, pants, sweater, socks) followed by a snowsuit, and topped off with a hat (velcro closure recommended ;) ) and baby is ready to go in carrier! I also like to take a blanket along when we go out side for extra warmth and/or to block wind IF you turn a corner and a breeze surprises you :)
And we're off to play! I mean .... check livestock :D
Emily & Nathan
My next blog post is supposed to be about Rotational Grazing since that is the next step in our steers’ lives here at Brun Ko Farm. However, I just can’t bring myself to write about grazing without current pictures of green grass and sunshine here at our new farm. SO, I’m going to go a different direction for a while. Today, I think I shall write about winter chores. Because we are in the thick of it right now.
That’s winter chores.
BUT it’s also warmth, playfulness, and ingenuity. It’s appreciation & beauty.
In the winter everything is frozen. The hydrant, the hose, the milk that hits the sides of the bucket, the feed in the bulk bin, the water that I spilled on the stairs, the steers’ bedding, the stock tanks, my ears.
It’s gloves that stick to metal bulk bins and bucket handles. It’s seeing your breath in the air. It’s undeniably fresh air in your lungs. It’s the heat of exertion and the cold of the wind, felt in the exact same moment.
Milking is the most time consuming and cold making part of winter chores. Can you say bare hands in -20F? The thought will send a shiver right through ya! It’s bearable only because the barn door breaks the wind and Abby’s teats are a cozy 98ish degrees. Slip those gloves back on quickly though when milking time is done! And keep them dry!
Next comes feeding and watering the hutch calves. Don’t let the full bucket of water slosh around! Nobody wants wet pants in the cold! Arrived at the hutches dry. Doing good!! But hold your breath because the door snaps are frozen. Pull off that warm glove and wrap your hand around the cold metal clip! The few seconds that it takes to thaw the clip feel like minutes. Now do it 4 more times!
Although we milked Abby through the deep cold we experienced earlier this winter (negative temps for days!), we are happy that she is dry now and that the calves are weaned!
With Abby dry & calves weaned, chores are mostly filled with carrying buckets of feed, moving hay, & filling/breaking open/thawing water tanks.
Winter chores generally happen in the dark. Headlamps are a MUST! Make sure your batteries are charged ‘cause you’re gonna need them! This is also where Piper dog tends to earn her keep. Having company and something to blame for all those noises you here when tromping around in the dark is oh so comforting.
Winter chores requires dressing in layers. And customizing the layers for the particular temperature and weather conditions of the day. Too many layers and you’ll be a sweaty mess. Too few layers and you’ll be cold & sorry! The weight of the layers adds to the work out!
And that’s where the warmth comes in. Winter chores is the warmth of exertion. The exertion that comes with carrying buckets of feed, hay bales, and buckets of water through snow while wearing many clothes. It’s the appreciation of a warm house waiting for you when chores are done. And it strengthens our appreciation of the warm summer days to come!
There’s ingenuity in devising new ways to keep waterers thawed and full and in keeping the tractor running, in staying warm and in managing snow.
There’s beauty in the snow covered hills and trees. And in the dusting of snow on calves’ backs. There’s beauty in icicles hanging from roof lines and in the stark contrast of animals against a snowy white background.
There’s joy in kicking up snow during a tug of war battle with the dog and in seeing the winter through the eyes of a small child.
While winter chores will probably never be our favorite, there is value in the challenge and beauty in the contrast.
Emily & Nathan
As you may know, we recently weaned the calves from milk. We also just recently moved them to a group weaning pen.
With the calves off milk and no pigs over the winter, we really don't have a use for all of the milk that Abby makes. Soo, that (along with a few other factors) means it's time to dry her off!
What do I mean,'dry her off?’ Well, the term 'dry off’ basically just means to quit milking. And a 'dry cow’ is a dairy cow that is not currently lactating (making milk).
Like with many other topics we’ve shared on this blog, different farms do different things but dry off time is pretty simple around here.
We simply stop milking. Several factors affect milk production but the most important is stimulation and the regular removal of milk. If the teats are no longer stimulated and milk is no longer removed from the udder it sends a signal to the brain to stop making milk.
At the same time, we also decrease the amount of grain that Abby gets. While the steers live almost exclusively on hay and grass from four months of age on, Abby eats a fair amount of grain every day to support milk production. So decreasing her grain is a good way to slow down/stop her from making milk. She still gets as much free choice hay or grass as she can eat, depending on the season but no more grain.
Abby is usually uncomfortable for 2 or 3 days after we stop milking her but once milk production stops and the body reabsorbs whatever milk was left in her udder, it's vacation time for her!
And it's a nice break for us too!
Brun Ko Farm
Cook stew meat, carrots, and broth in crockpot on low for 6-7 hours. Preheat oven to 375F. Spoon meat and carrots into a deep dish pie plate. Add peas (frozen or fresh). Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, garlic, and salt to taste. Add flour to juices in the crockpot, whisk together and pour over top of meat and vegetables. Spread mashed potatoes over top of everything. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and dot top of potatoes with pats of butter (optional).
*If you are using hamburger, simply brown the hamburger in a skillet and add broth and carrots and simmer until soft. Add hamburger and carrots to pie plate and then continue with the recipe as written.
Brun Ko Farm
**1/23/18 - edited to add video of calves' first moments in weaning pen**
Lately, we’ve been talking about the life cycle of steers on our farm. So far, we’ve talked about picking up bottle calves and about their first couple of months of life. The steers’ next stop on the farm is in the weaning pen.
Like I mentioned in our first ever live video, wehaven’t 100% decided where the weaning pen will be at the new place but we’d better get it figured out because the calves will be weaned and getting too big for their hutches in a couple of weeks!
So, what is a weaning pen anyway?? A weaning pen is a small, well secured paddock where the calves learn about things like fences, friends, and sharing food at a common feed trough.
Let’s start with fences. You’d think (or at least I did) that fences are a fairly self explanatory thing. You see an object in your path, you pause, and then you turn a different direction and continue to calmly explore your new home. NOPE. Not the boys and girls we have around here! Some of them are more intuitive than others but at least 1 or 2 out of each group seems to be the ‘fence tester’. You know, the chosen one who runs FULL speed into the fence several times before they learn where the new boundaries are in their life. For this reason, we usually make the weaning pen out of cattle panels and wait for a week or two to introduce electric wire. Also, newly weaned calves can slip out under (and through!) a typical barbed wire or electric fence. So the cattle panels serve several purposes, they provide the most visible boundary that we can offer and also the most secure and kindest option. It might not feel good to run into a cattle panel but I’d say it beats getting wrapped up in barbed wire or electric fence anyday!
Next comes friends. While the calves are investigating the fences, they also begin to investigate each other! This provides some good entertainment as they sniff, head butt, and kick up their heels! Although they’ve lived next to each other and been able to see and vocalize with each other, this is the first time that they’ve been able to touch each other or otherwise enter each other's space. While they are in the weaning pen, the calves learn how to interact and work together. This is an exciting time for them as cattle are naturally herd animals and they tend to move and graze as a group.
Next comes sharing space at the feed trough. Even though cattle have a herd mentality, they can sure be ornery about their food! We always make sure to allow plenty of space for all of the calves to eat at the same time but it's a learning process for them. They've never had to share and/or compete for food before. Some of the calves are shy about coming to eat with the group while others act a little bit like hogs. In these early days, the group establishes a pecking order that tends to last for as long as the group stays the same. Luckily this doesn't take long and within a couple of days everybody knows their place and the whole group eats happily together :)
We also introduce grass and/or hay in the weaning pen. Whether it's grass or hay just depends on the season. Calves typically LOVE this!
We move calves from the weaning pen to pastures as a group, once they have learned to respect the electric fence and when we are confident that they are all eating well and everybody is getting along.
And with that, I better get busy preparing a prn for the calves we are about to wean!!
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!
Brun Ko Farm
First Moments in the Weaning Pen!
Just a girl with a passion for the animals, the land, and feeding people!