Kimberly's Adventures

Food, Farms, Fields, Forests, Friends, Family, and Feelings
Broken grain cart. Makes life interesting…. (at Hawthorne Valley Farm)

Broken grain cart. Makes life interesting…. (at Hawthorne Valley Farm)

Sitting on the Lake Shore Limited Amtrak in route home from a Midwestern holiday vacation, I watch departing passengers unveil their cars from the thick layers of snow fallen in their absence. (at William F Walsh Regional Transportation Center)

Sitting on the Lake Shore Limited Amtrak in route home from a Midwestern holiday vacation, I watch departing passengers unveil their cars from the thick layers of snow fallen in their absence. (at William F Walsh Regional Transportation Center)

First significant snow of the season calls for a walk to the falls. (at High Falls Conservation Area)

First significant snow of the season calls for a walk to the falls. (at High Falls Conservation Area)

Selling lamb and heritage way fed pork for @ravenandboar at the Williamstown Holiday #farmers market. #farm, #pork, #lamb, #tshirt, #certified humane, #sausage (at Williamstown Holiday Market)

Selling lamb and heritage way fed pork for @ravenandboar at the Williamstown Holiday #farmers market. #farm, #pork, #lamb, #tshirt, #certified humane, #sausage (at Williamstown Holiday Market)

Letting the cows out for possibly the last time.

Letting the cows out for possibly the last time.

National Farm Bill Day of Action

An Urgent Message Message from the National Young Farmers Coalition!

….

Today, let’s make sure Congress gets to work!

Take just five minutes today – that’s right, just five! – for a National Day of Action for a better farm bill. Yesterday, we handed Congress over 20,000 signatures from farmers and advocates across the country demanding an equitable, sustainable 2012 Farm Bill. Today, we’ll make sure they hear the message loud and clear! While you’re on your lunch break, out in the field, on your way to a meeting, or headed to class, join us in making a unified statement to Congress: Get a farm bill done, and get it done right!

Will you join us?

Step 1: Dial the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Representative.
Step 2: Share a message like one of the three below with the person who answers the phone.
Step 3: Help us spread the word - and then give yourself a hand! You’re done!

What should the 2012 Farm Bill look like, anyway?


It should INVEST IN THE FUTURE OF HEALTHY FARMS, FOOD & PEOPLE

Harness the economic power of local and organic food and small businesses to strengthen rural and urban communities and create jobs
Grow the next generation of American farmers by providing the tools, training, and access to capital that beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers need to succeed
Ensure access to fresh, healthy food for all – including those in need and in our schools

It should PROTECT OUR PRECIOUS AIR, SOIL & WATER

Reward farmers for their environmental stewardship by fully funding farm conservation programs
Do not raid long-term conservation efforts to pay for short-term disaster fixes
Link federal crop insurance support to conservation of wetlands and fragile soils

It should REFORM FARM SUBSIDIES & LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD

Eliminate wasteful direct payments
Target support to working farm families by closing loopholes that benefit mega-farms and millionaire investors
Cap farm and crop insurance subsidies to improve fiscal responsibility

Cheddar Cheese Make (and other creamery info)

Another one from the “Drafts” folder. I never finished describing how cheddar is made (perhaps I’ll invite my friend Emily who works in the creamery to write a guest post about it, as I can not complete my description over six months later). The beginning of the unfinished post provides a nice description of the creamery, above which I have lived for the past year.

Monday morning, April 23rd, I woke at 4:20am, ate breakfast with my housemate, then walked downstairs to the creamery to assist the Head Cheesemaker in a cheddar make, while my housemate journeyed just a few yards further to the dairy barn and through to the cow yard and loafing barn to bring in the cows for morning milking.

Over the past five months, I have personally taken my housemate’s journey to the barn and morning milking many times and have come to look forward to the crisp air, clear starry skies, chirping birds, warm cows and the soothing rhythm of the milk machines. During those same months I have only made the early morning journey to the creamery on two other occasions to learn about yogurt production and bottling the raw milk and buttermilk. I have been waiting this whole time for the cows to start producing enough milk for a Monday morning cheddar make and for that to coincide with my milking weekend allowing me to participate on my day off. And that finally happened. 

Creamery staff starts work Monday through Friday at 4:30am and by the time I arrived at 5am they had already pumped the weekend’s milk from the bulk tank into two pasteurizing vats for culturing: the larger for yogurt and smaller for bianca. 

The bulk tank must be emptied of the previous night’s milk and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before the vacuum pump starts bringing in the milk Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings so that the raw milk for bottling only comes from that one milking. The copper vat in the raw milk room, which is only used for hard cheese production, was filled with milk from Thursday and Friday’s milkings that had been pulled from the bulk tank those mornings into a very large bag in a plastic crate and stored in the cooler over the weekend. For yogurt production the farm will purchase additional milk from other local, organically certified farms to meet demand, but all the raw milk hard cheese on the farm is made from milk from the Hawthorne Valley herd. 

I can not pretend to be an expert on cheddar production or cheese making in general, but Monday I was shadowing an expert in the trade and I have taken a few cheese making classes at Kookoolan Farm in Yamhill, Oregon, so I hope to articulate the basic how and why of cheddar making in an intelligible way with the help of photos.

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Nimbus and calves in the loafing barn. (at Hawthorne Valley Farm)

Nimbus and calves in the loafing barn. (at Hawthorne Valley Farm)

I discovered the post below in my “Drafts” folder. I must have typed it toward the end of January and felt it was never finished. Here it is as I found it, because the photos are still just as wonderful. Just as a side note, the lone calf in the photo, Lucy, is now dark brown or even black, and the calf born just after I arrived, Nettle, had a terrible cough all winter and died sometime over the summer from parasites. Many more calves have been born in the days since and Noodle, Nettle’s mother, has freshened again, truly bringing light to the fact I have been at the farm for nearly a year. Cows have a nine month gestation period like humans and she had these calves about 11 months apart.

The original post:

Baby Cows! Calves, you might say…

As you may know, these little ones are the wellspring of their mother’s milk production and therefore new births are very exciting and essential events in dairy farming. 

During my time at Hawthorne Valley, four cows have freshened, meaning gave birth and came into their milk, and that four new calves have joined the herd as well. The first of these was Nettle, a heifer (girl) born to Noodle on Saturday December 3rd, within 24 hours of my arrival.

Then, although Moon spent an entire month requesting to stay in the maternity pen rather than her stall during milking, her bull calf, Montana, did not arrive until January 12th. Although last spring I helped deliver two misrepresented Nigerian Dwarf/Alpine kids when I just happened to be in the barn as a series of three goats decided to freshen in the same day, Montana was the first calf birth I ever witnessed (and it was also a difficult one). After walking back from dinner at the Creek House, across the creek and pasture, I went in to check on Moon in the barn and there were about eight people in there and Moon with a little head and two hooves protruding from her vulva with some very large ears. She had stopped having contractions and was given something I can’t recall to induce the contractions. Then as she started contracting again they had to twist his body and pull on his front legs to get him out. She has a small hip cavity and he was a large calf. After birthing, Moon wouldn’t stand up to feed her calf. It turns out she had an imbalance of calcium and magnesium in her blood or milk fever (see below from Treating Dairy Cows Naturally by Hubert J. Karreman) so she was given supplements first in her mouth then under her skin. Once they kicked in she stood up and took on her role as new mom. Her calve was called “Moo” for the first few days of his life, because male calves that we plan to castrate and keep as steers only receive the first three letters of their mom’s name. Moo learned his first name quickly, but Andrew, the herdsman took a liking to him and decided to keep him as Montana.

Next in line was Lucy, the solo calve pictured above. Lucy belongs to Leek and was named such because she was born while Lucy and Lucy were milking with Andrew in the afternoon of January 25th. If you haven’t noticed the trend yet, each calf is given a name beginning with the same letter as its mother so that it is easier to follow family lineages. 

The last of the calves born since my arrival (unless Hyssop gave birth overnight) was Liquorice, born to Logan. 

Time for Reflection: One Year of Adventures.

 The leaves have changed and fallen, the ground was coated in snow for half a day this week and the temperatures have inspired me to pull out the insulated overalls, rabbit fur hat, and take a trip to the Tractor Supply to purchase a new pair of insulated gloves. The sun drops rapidly behind the hills around four in the afternoon and by the time we call it a day dusk is moving quickly toward nightfall. This is a time for hunkering down near a well stoked wood stove (which I’m dearly missing this year) or just with a warm cup of tea or cocoa for contemplation. A set of knitting needles or a crochet hook may help with the reflection, but a pen and paper or the keys currently resting beneath my finger tips tend to provide a stronger pull on my memory.

It has been a very long time since I sat with this computer rested on my lap and provided text to describe the happenings of my life. Occasionally, I have posted a call to action on legislation, a song I enjoy, or another’s writing that draws me, but the majority of my own stories are stored in the archives of January and December. As a farmer I’ve noticed that my hobbies tend to ebb and flow with the seasons in a counter balance to the summer’s workload. I enjoy writing and hope that this season will provide you with more written encounters with my life rather than solely images. 

As I open this space for reflection I have realized that today marks the one year anniversary of this blog. I began it at a time of transition: from Oregon to New York. And now my one year commitment to Hawthorne Valley Farm is coming to a close as well. I’m preparing for a transition again, but I’m not yet certain what that transition will entail. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to ascertain the next leg of my journey through life, but in the meantime I invite you to look back at through the archive view of this record of the past year in my life. 

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