Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dairy Discovery Day Camp 2016

This is the only the second year of Dairy Discovery Day Camp and we are hooked! The kids come for 3 days for 3 hours and this year we offered a June and a July session. Here's a very brief description of each day's highlights:
Pick out a calf with your partner
Visit the Cow and Milking Barn
Learn how to milk a cow by hand and test the milk quality
Walk your calf
Do farm chores

Take a hayride
Learn about and make a day's worth of food for one cow
Wash and Walk your calf
Do farm chores

Taste and Make dairy products
Tour the Robotic Milking farm
Do Chores
Calf Show Day!

It is so amazing to see how far these kids come in just a few short days! My favorite thing about the camp is getting to know the kids and seeing their love for farming and animals- it's great to know that we'll be in good hands with this generation taking over someday. I will also never forget asking the kids for feedback- what can we do different next time? Almost all of them picked doing more chores! These are some real go-get'ers!
Be sure to check out the pictures below and also the website around the first of the year for 2017 dates.
Here's some of the feedback we've received:
"Braylen said he missed camp already on the drive home yesterday.The boys had another great experience at your farm. You are such a great, knowledgeable teacher! You always make us feel so welcome.The boys suggested making the camp longer and doing more chores.Thank you for the BEST week of their summer again :)"

"Kendall loves her time at the farm!"

"My kids absolutely LOVED everything about camp. They would also love another visit later this summer or fall too."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Over the weekend...

Every Monday my kids report to their class about what they did "Over the Weekend."  Here is a Farm Mom's report after a busy weekend...

Friday, March 22, 2013
4:00PM:  Get the kids off the bus.  Finish packing up a few last items and head into Lowell to setup our first-ever Expo booth!
6:00PM:  Head to the St. Mary's for the Fish Fry  (Yay!  I don't have to cook!)
7:00PM:  Hubby drops me and my daughter off at my friend's house.  She did a presentation on her mission trip to Kenya.
9:00PM:  Answer phone calls, texts, gather a few more items for the booth, get kids to bed
10:00PM:  Bedtime

Saturday, March 23, 2013
3:57AM:  My alarm goes off (but I don't get up because I like to push Snooze 2 times)
4:11AM:  Eat a bowl of cereal and put on 3 layers of clothes- Spring has not sprung here yet. BRRR!
4:20AM:  Arrive at the farm.  (I have a 1 mile commute.)  Mostly, I feed grain/milk/hay and care for new or sick babies.  A few highlights from Saturday morning chores:

A few days ago our vet put a cast on this calf because her momma stepped on her  right after she was born.  He is giving her a painkiller and perscribed me to do it for 3 days.  So, I had to tend to her.
I got to see Pepper giving birth to a new litter of kitties!

She had them in the rooster's hideout!  He was so freaked out he didn't even crow once  all morning!

This guy here was born around 5AM.  After his momma licked him clean , I fed him colostrum, gave him his vaccinations, and tucked him into his pen. (That's just the flash from the phone camera. His eyes really aren't scary at all.)
7:51AM:  Speed home to take a light-speed shower and grab a few more items for the booth

8:30AM:  The Dairy Discovery/SwissLane Farms booth at the Lowell EXPO!  We had 500 cartons of TruMoo (donated by DFA- Thank you!), SwissLane Specialty Cheese samples, and Farm Fresh Maple Syrup.  It was a great day!  We sold out of 2 kinds of cheese and all of our Quarts of syrup and gave away all the milk!
1:10PM:  Do a radio interview about Dairy Discovery/SwissLane Farms being a first-time vendor at the EXPO

3:00PM:  Tear down EXPO booth
4:30PM:  Head to the mall with Mom, Sis and the girls for our annual Easter dress shopping trip!
8:00PM:  Home.  Throw some left-overs and frozen goods together for a Not-So-Impressivve dinner
8:30PM:  Head to the gas station for a Red Box movie.  We watched Brave.  (Pretty cute movie but I will not be accepting any "peace- offering" baked goods from any of my children.)
10:00PM:  Bedtime

Sunday, March 24, 2013
5:37AM:   My alarm goes off (but I don't get up because I like to push Snooze 2 times)
5:50AM:  Wake up my daughter(the farm kids will work 1 or 2 mornings a month feeding calves).  She can't drive so that means I get to help too
6:12AM:  Arrive (fashionably late) to feed the bull calves

8:30AM:  Come home to a Pancake Breakfast!  Dad and the boys even made us some bacon to go along with :)  Get the kids/me/hubby in our Easter-best for the Sunday School program at church

10:30AM:  Church. (Got all teary-eyed as I listened to my kids sing At the Cross and He Arose.  PTL!)
12:00PM:  Me and daughter leave straight from church with my Mom and Dad to go to my niece's graduation from Michigan State in Lansing (its about an hour drive).  I am a proud "Auntie."  (I did hesitate to post this pic- I couldn't for the life of me, find an Easter dress for me.  Just look at my beautiful niece and daughter OK?)
3:30PM:  Grab a snack at Old Chicago to celebrate!  Me and daughter leave the party early to go to another party
5:45PM:  Arrive at my God-daughter's 9th birthday celebration
8:50PM:  Home.  Put kids to bed.  Crash on the couch.
9:15PM:  Blog post on a busy weekend.
11:59PM:  Bedtime *Please note this is only an estimate as I am deeply upset at the format of this post!!  I will probably try for way too long to fix the margins.  I added all the pics through the Blogger App on my phone because I thought it would be easier.  I know...TMI.  But sometimes a rant can make a lady feel better.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Dairy Healthy Heart

Hearts, flowers, chocolate, and...cheese!
My kids school does Valentine's a little different.
They celebrate Healthy Heart Day instead of the traditional Valentine exchange party.  The entire day is devoted to healthy living education and activities.  The kids rotate through 9 different stations during the day.  They hit a little of everything- a hygienist came to talk about dental health, they learned a little Zumba, and even a lesson on CPR.
I was asked to bring in String Cheese as part of the healthy snack.  (As you can see from the picture, it was accompanied by a fruit cabob and a piece of dark chocolate.).
Luckily, I live and farm in the great state of Michigan so I was able to apply for a grant through the UDIM.  The program is designed to provide dairy farmers with funds to promote dairy products in their communities. 
Have a big community event coming up that needs a little dairy touch?  Well there's an app (as in application) for that!  Any dairy farmer in Michigan can apply.
The best part of the boys told me they didn't have to ANYthing at school today.  Love it when learning is disguised as fun:)
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sweet! Potatoes

Hot, baked, sweet? No. Just regular white potatoes are coming into SwissLane by the truck load.  And the cows are loving it!  They are sorting through their Total Mixed Ration just to find the potato to nibble on, much the way I would eat an apple.  We are loving them too!  They are bringing our feed costs down. 
We made it through the physical heat of the 2012 Drought.  But the ramifications of this summer are going to make an impact for many months to come. 
Corn is an important part of a cow's diet because it provides energy.  The drought has brought the cost of corn from $4.50 to $7.50 or more.  And the price we are being paid for our milk is staying the same.  That means we need to be very creative if we want to stay in business.
 So bring on the potatoes!
Apparently, hot and dry conditions are primo for potato farmers and they are experiencing a bumper crop.  They have already fulfilled all of their contracts so the leftovers are going for a great price.  These are some pretty good quality veggies here- we actually ate some in our Breakfast Burritos this morning too!!

Cottonseed, Gluten, distillers- are among some of the other commodities that we have added to try to reduce costs too.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Say Cheese!

It's official...SwissLane Farms is now a place to buy cheese! 
A friend of the family is an award winning Cheese-maker from Wisconsin.  Our family is what you would call Cheese Snobs and big fans of Decatur Cheese.  For years, we have been talking with him about making/selling cheese and one day he showed up with a whole cooler full of cheese- and that settled it. 
No more talking its time to start doing.  
So its not "our" cheese made with our milk- but its a start!  
We've got big plans and one small step at a time we will get there.
Stop in to get your Specialty Cheese- no shipping and lots of flavor!

(The New sign)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Don't Mess With Milk

I love Sunday's.  The Lord's Day.  A day of Rest.  The beginning of a new week.  And the only day you can take a Sunday afternoon nap.  I love Sunday's.
Just to give you some background...
  We have been a little lighter on the labor force this week(end) due to some much needed vacations.  It was our(Jerry and I) weekend "on"  (we are dairy farmers so really almost all weekends- unless we are on vacation- we are working.... but just not- well.... lets just say it's complicated and pretty much if you're a dairy farmer you don't get a day-off very often.  Even when it's not your "weekend-on")  So anyway, busy weekend.  But it went very well.  Even though it was the hottest, record breaking, sweltering heat I have ever endured- my calves all look great!  Very satisfying.  I have been looking forward to my Sunday nap since 4:30am Saturday. 
After church, I decided to check Twitter "real quick" before I snuggled up, and came across this article:
Got-milk? You Don't Need It

And that is what killed my Sunday nap:(
Here is the comment I posted (that took me way to long to write):

I am not too familiar with your work but reading your bio above it says you wrote “Food Matters,” which explored the crucial connections among food, health and the environment."
Food, health and the environment are some values very important to me too. That is why I find satisfaction in being a dairy farmer.
I am a mom of 3 and listening to my kids pour and mix chocolate milk for their snack as I type. I am glad they don't have an allergy so it is very easy for them to get 9 essential nutrients from 1 little glass.
I have been a runner for about 20 years and completed a couple of marathons. I have found my recovery to be much quicker when I started using chocolate milk as a post-run drink.
I love, love being outside with my animals and am so humbled to be responsible for the land that my great-grandfather passed on to other generations. I know that my job is to leave it in better condition for my kids.
As you were posting this article, my family was working 10-16 hour days during the hottest week in history trying to care for our animals. I am on my way back to the farm now trying "to make a living producing and selling milk." This article makes that just a little more challenging today.

Yes, and then I can't just leave it at that- I go and take even more of my precious Sunday-Afternoon-Nap-Time to tell all you fine folks about my frustrations.  Post/Rant Completed:) 
And now, back to the barn!  Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Maple Syrup Making 2012

Maple Syrup Season is something we always look forward to every year around the farm.

The steam coming off the evaporating sap smells so so good! Its my favorite.

This year was a good year for those of us who are impatient because the season started about 2 weeks earlier than normal due to the warm temperatures.
For 3 weeks, our family and friends tapped, gathered, boiled, and canned almost 300 gallons of Maple Syrup!

Some of the future Syrup makers in front of the Shanty!

A friend of mine, who is a great blogger, came out to visit the end of February and documented her experience at the Sugar Shack. Click here to see photos, video and lots of details about the Syrup Making process.

Some older posts on Maple Syrup making at SwissLane:
Family Bonding...So Sappy!
The Sugar Shanty (behind the scenes)

Dinner in the Shanty! We cook on Old Cookstoves with wood(no gas/electric and believe me it's tricky!) and there's nothing like it! This is Blueberry Pancakes with syrup straight from the pan and to top it all off...a glass of MILK.