Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Farm Memories #5...Dairy Farming in the 1950's...

Once again, I have the privilege to share with you a story from a guest blogger...my father-in-law Lloyd!

He writes about what it was like to milk cows in the 1950's...in particular how the milk was stored and transported to the dairy.  Enjoy!

DAIRY FARMING IN THE 1950's

My father remodeled our barn in the early 50's, taking out the old wooden stalls and replacing them with metal stalls and all new concrete.  We had four short rows, with nine stalls in each row. (which we still have today)


Milking was done with Surge milkers...



These milkers had vacuum pulsators.  We could run three milkers.  When the electricity would go off, we would run the milkers with the tractor. (just like now, when the power goes off, we run our generator with a tractor)  This sure beat milking by hand!  My Mother was far better at hand milking than I was!

From the Surge milker, the milk was dumped into a bucket.  We then dumped the milk through a strainer, which sat on top of a milk can...



When finished, we would roll the cans to the milk house.  We cooled the milk by hoisting the cans into a cooler tank that was filled with water at 38 degrees.  Sometimes Dad would drop a couple of watermelons in too...a good summertime treat!  Those cans full of milk were heavy, so Dad rigged up a system where we could maneuver them into the tank ourselves, if he wasn't around to lift them for us.

After the morning milking was finished, we would load all the cans into our pickup truck and head for Lancaster city, where the Penn Dairy receiving plant was located.  

Dad would back the truck up to a conveyor.  The cans all had our farm identification number painted on them.  As the cans went up the conveyor, there was a gentleman who would knock the lid off each can and smell the milk.  It the milk didn't smell right, he would reject it and send it back to us. It was then fed to the calves, cats or chickens, or thrown away.  This didn't happen often!

After the milk was approved, it was dumped into a big tank, our milk cans were washed and loaded back up onto our truck, and home we went.  I always enjoyed this trip to the dairy.

Some years later, we put in a bulk tank on our farm.  This was quite a change!  We then put in a dumping station.  This is where the milk was dumped from each milker into a holding tank in the cow stable, and then pumped from there into the bulk tank by a glass line.  Our first tank was a 400 gallon Mojonnier Brothers bulk tank.  The milk truck came every day to the farm to pick up the milk.  

Eventually we put in a pipeline milking system, and the milk now goes directly from the cow to the milk tank without us having to lift the weight of the milk.  Who knows what changes are next?


I've included a few pictures of the bulk tank.  The first picture is of the original 400 gallon Mojonnier tank that Lloyd wrote about...



In 1995, Jim and I decided to put in a larger tank, to save on hauling charges. We are charged each time the milk truck picks up our milk, and by putting in this 900 gallon Mueller tank, we were able to have the milk truck come every other day, cutting our hauling charges in half.  The "new" tank soon paid for itself.

We bulk headed the tank, which means that rather than building a larger milk house, part of the tank remains outside, with the wall built around it.  The tank is well insulated, and the milk inside remains at a safe temperature, regardless of the weather.  The old tank was removed and the new one put in place between morning and evening milkings...


Project complete...


I hope you enjoyed the farm memories.  I love it when someone else does the writing for me!

Thanks Lloyd!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cheeseburger Roll Recipe...

Hmmm...two posts in a row about food?  Must be on my mind a lot lately. Oh well...

When browsing my cookbooks for recipes to use in the food co-op, I came across this one that I thought my family might like.  I made it last Saturday for lunch, using a tube of prepared pizza dough because of time constraints. Today I had more time, so I made "the real thing"...using the dough in the recipe.

CHEESEBURGER ROLL...


Dough:
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. yeast
3 cups flour


Filling:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup prepared mustard
1/4 cup dill pickles, diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sesame seeds

1.  To prepare dough, mix together water, oil, salt, sugar and yeast.  Mix until yeast is dissolved.  Stir in flour.  Work into a smooth ball.  Leave in bowl and cover to rise.  (I left it rise about 45+ minutes)

2.  Fry ground beef and onions together.  Remove from heat and drain all excess fat.  Mix in ketchup, mustard, pickles and cheese, stirring well.  Set aside.

3.  On a floured surface, roll dough out into a 12" x 18" rectangle.  Spread filling over dough.  Roll up like a jelly roll.

4.  Place seam side down on a greased jelly roll pan.  Brush with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (I didn't use sesame seeds...just baked it as is, and sprayed with a  little oil on top to make it brown)

5.  Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes.  Serve.  (We had ketchup, etc. available as condiments)


I think this just might be a new family favorite!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Food Co-op...

Are you in a rut with your cooking...can't think of new recipes?  Do you get tired of making the same things, week after week?  Do you simply just want a break sometimes?  I was...I did...and I do!

Last fall I got an email from a friend, asking if I wanted to be part of a food co-op with her and another friend.  I have been part of this group for the past four months, and it has been wonderful!  Did I mention that I love it?

Here's how it works for us:

Three of us take turns cooking the main dish for all three of our families, once a week.  I take Tuesdays, the other two take Wednesdays and Thursdays.

We get together and plan ahead several months at a time.  We bring a list of recipes and fill in our calendars, alternating with a "chicken", "other" and "beef" recipe each week.  Here's a sample...


We prepare the main dish and deliver it on our assigned day, either hot and ready to eat at mealtime, or more often, we put it in the fridge with basic baking instructions.  Sometimes we send along a side...for example if we make soup, we might send along some crusty bread.  We have keys to each other's houses, and if no one is home, we can drop it off at our convenience.

Today was my day to cook...


I made spaghetti pie, tripled the recipe and had an assembly line on my kitchen table.  Then I covered it with foil, added the critical info, and viola, I was done!


There are some things to consider when forming a group like this...

*It's convenient if you live close to each other
*If you have picky eaters, or food allergies, it might be tough to make it work
*It's helpful if your families are similar in size, or at least eat similar amounts of food  :)
*You've got to be honest with each other.  If there was a recipe your family really didn't like, just say so.

So...if you want something new to try that just might make your life simpler and mealtime more exciting, I encourage you to give it a try!  My kids ask frequently..."Who's cooking today?"  or "What are we getting for supper tonight?"  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking, but this has been so much fun!

It's 11:00 am, I'm off to deliver my meals and I'm finished cooking until Friday.  Then it's back home to break ice on water buckets.

Woohoo!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Birth-Day...

Well...winter appears to be back!  When we woke up this morning, the temperature was 25 degrees...but it didn't feel too bad, really, since there was very little wind.

It was a good day...although a cold one...to be born, for this little one.  She's just a few hours old in the video, and Jim has just brought her into the box pen with her new friends.  Her mama is in a stall nearby, eating some hay.  It's almost lunch time, and the other cows know it...they're getting restless, waiting for their lunch.

video

(sorry the camera went sideways near the end...oops!)

She was born while we were eating breakfast this morning, and Jim told Jenna that since today is her birthday (14!) that if the calf was a heifer, we'd name her Jenna.

And here are some pictures of the other birthday girl...being goofy with her friend Anna...


...and a nice one :) ...


I can't believe our "baby" is fourteen today.

Happy Birthday Jenna (s)!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Caught In the Act...

Almost without fail, every morning, I find this chicken on the outside of the pen.

She wanders around the calf hutches, searching for dropped grain...she wanders around the garden and the meadow, looking for bugs...and when she sees me coming, she crouches down and waits for me to pick her up and deposit her back inside the pen with her friends.



I was never sure how she escaped, but now I know.  She's been caught in the act...and is starting to take a few of her friends along on her adventures.

**On a side note...since I switched pens, the chickens are actually laying a few more eggs.  Still not setting any records, for sure, but I think they like the warm weather and the extra food they're finding in their new home

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Moving Day...

It's finally moving day...

Not for us...for our small flock of remaining chickens!

Last winter, I noticed that the chicken pen was looking horrific. Those girls scratch and peck...and scratch and peck...looking for every last morsel of food they can find.  They leave behind ground that looks like this...


There is no green anywhere to be found.  I was afraid last year, that the grass was totally destroyed, but to my relief, when spring came, the grass (and weeds) turned green again.  The weed/grass ratio was a little high, but at least it was green!

This winter, I've decided to be proactive. We have the goat pen, which is fenced in with the kind of wire that keeps chickens in, and is full of rich, green grass, so why not switch pens for a little while?

So...I opened the gate this morning, hoping that the chickens would get the idea...


They did...kind of.  They headed out of the pen, and straight for the compost bins.  I was hoping I could either catch them, or corral them into that pen on the far side of the picture, with the big tree and the calf hutch.

Ha!

No chance!

It soon became a zoo.  Those barred rock chickens aren't used to being handled, and were impossible  to catch when outside.  So...Daniel (our neighbor) and I chased them back into their old pen, into their shed and shut the door.  Then we proceeded to catch them and carry them in pairs over to their new jail pen...


If only they could've understood what we were trying to do...now they have lots of lush, green grass, shelter, feed, water, and several roosting and hiding places.

But you know what?  I probably won't get any eggs today as punishment! As of 1:00 pm...egg count "0"!

**We're in the midst of a warm trend right now, but when it gets colder again, or windy, I'll have to move them back to their regular shed!  This is just to give them a chance to have some lush grass, and give the other ground a break from all the scratching.

Monday, January 7, 2013

This Morning...

I've heard this question on numerous occasions..."What do you do all day?"  So...here goes...


Dark thirty am...the alarm rings.  We hit snooze.  Or rather, Jim does...I don't even hear it.

Repeat...

I am not a morning person, typically.  Not at all...just ask Jim!  But this morning, it's working for me.

Maybe, because I actually went to bed at a reasonable hour, I'm awake and able to head downstairs in good time.  Jim's already had his coffee, and is getting ready to head out to the barn.

Maybe because I feel guilty that there's no breakfast food in the house, I head downstairs and put some baked oatmeal in the oven.  The kids leave early for school, and need something wholesome to eat before they start their day!

I throw a load of towels in the washer so they will be ready to hang out when I'm done in the barn.  I used to try to have my wash hanging out before the Amish neighbors, (why??) but gave up on that a long time ago.  Although... I did notice that hers were not hanging out very early this morning!  :)

When I wander into the barn, Jim is already halfway finished milking down the first two rows...


As is our normal routine, he milks while I start feeding.  I put the feed cart underneath the hay hole, and throw balage down for the heifers first, then the cows.  They dig in...


They're much more cooperative when they've had some food.  Kind of like some people with their morning coffee!

The cats hang out next to the heifer pen every morning...



After the cows are fed balage, I feed corn, then help move the last few milkers.  As we are finishing up, and hang the milkers up on the end of the pipeline, the cats begin to head towards the milk house.  Fritz loudly lets me know that he wants some fresh, warm milk from the jar...


After milking, Jim feeds silage, and I take care of the calves.  We have two new ones on bottles.  We'll keep the heifer, and the bull will go to market later this morning.  Their bottles are warming...


The calves in the hutches get their buckets of milk.  Miss greedy over there on the left, inhales her milk and tries to eat the bucket.  She has feed, hay and water, but her favorite is milk.  She won't like it when she's weaned in a week or two...


It's a beautiful day, so the towels will dry quickly.  I love to watch wash flapping in the breeze...



After breakfast, I pick up our neighbor, Daniel, who helps us a couple of mornings a week.  Usually when he's here, I stay in the house and get other things done, but this morning, Jim wants to fork out some box pens, so I help Daniel with the morning work. We put the cows out in the barn yard, and I watch for heats and keep them from getting into trouble take recess duty while Daniel gives them fresh bedding in their stalls. Then we head over to the other farm to feed the heifers and dry cows.

Jim forks out two heifer pens, and beds them up with fresh straw when he's finished...


This is the second load that he forked out by hand this morning...


It's late morning by the time we're all finished, but there are still a few more things that happen before lunch.  The cattle truck comes for the little bull calf...



The milk truck comes...


We discover a crack in the tank washer hose, and temporarily repair it using black tape...whatever would we do without black tape and duct tape?!


A load of sawdust is delivered...



Now we'll be set for a while with fresh bedding for the cows, and a warm, soft place for the dogs to sleep!


So...this is what we did this morning!

Mornings are usually busy year round...it's the afternoons this time of year that are a little less busy, and we sometimes have some free time to do things that we want.

One thing is for certain, however...not too many days are alike.  There's always something to do, and we will never be bored!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Bit of History and a Book Review...

As things aren't too exciting this time of year on the farm...other than some new calves and some issues that come up with cows or equipment...you might get to read about some things other than farm life.  :)

This was an exciting happening in our "family" this past year!

It began three years ago, when Jim's cousin, Lynette Leaman Brenneman, decided to write a children's book about the Hans Herr House...the oldest homestead in Lancaster County, which dates back to the early 1700's. Lynette is a descendant of Hans Herr...as am I...and of course our kids are as well.

Lynette began her project three years ago, when Jenna was 10 years old.  She (Lynette) was a third grade teacher, and when teaching about local history, couldn't find information about the Hans Herr House that was geared towards children, so she decided to write a book herself!

Jenna had volunteered at the Hans Herr House for two summers, demonstrating how food was preserved in the basement of the old house.  She and another girl who volunteered there...and is also a descendant...were chosen to portray the characters in Lynette's book.  They spent many hours in costume as Lynette took their pictures for her book. You can read a book review that was in our local paper recently here  .

The book cover...


We were excited when Lynette's book was published this summer!  It's a great "fictional story about a real girl"...a bit of local history that is fun to look at and read!

It can be found locally to purchase at several locations listed in the book review.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

As I've been reflecting over the past year...and life in general...and reading  Facebook posts about New Years resolutions...and blog posts about the same...I've done some thinking about what is important to me...or more importantly what I want to focus on...



After losing a good friend this summer to a bicycle accident...and more recently watching friends lose loved ones, my thoughts have turned more contemplative.

I want to spend more quality time with family...with friends...and spend time building relationships with the people that I rub shoulders with.

Maybe it's taking time to play a game with the kids in the evening, even though I'm tired...(and always get beat soundly in ping pong)   :)...

Maybe it's learning to know the "new" neighbors who moved in a week or so ago better...the potential is there for our families to become good friends...

Maybe I need to finally have that neighborhood ladies' brunch that's been on my mind for only about 10 years...

Maybe I need to spend more time building my good friendships even deeper....not assuming that they'll always be there...

Maybe...

I'm looking forward to the challenge!