Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I LOVE Ham Balls!

The name of this blog is "My Cows AND Pigs", and some of you may be wondering, what about the pigs!?!  Anyone who knows me knows that pigs are my passion.  Unfortunately, there isn't enough room for them on our current farm location, so I must live vicariously through the producers for whom I work at Bethany Animal Hospital, where I get to work with wonderful family farmers that raise pork for your table. 
Tonite, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite recipes - Ham Balls!  They do take a little bit of work, but boy, is it worth it! 
This isn't a family recipe, but one that I hodge-podged from the church cookbook.  Try them out, and use the coupon available at http://www.ilpork.com/ for $1 off any pork product through 1/31/11.

Halfway done......My mouth is watering! :-)
Ham Balls
1 1/2 lb. ground pork
1 1/2 lb. ground ham (try a local butcher shop, or take a ham & run it thru the food processor)
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
3 eggs
2 sleeves (or a little less - use to desired texture) crackers, crushed
1/3 c. brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients.  Form into balls (makes 24, ~2, 9x13 pans).  Bake at 325 for 1 hour, basting with sauce after 15 minutes & every 15 minutes during cooking.

Sauce: (I triple the sauce recipe b/c the sauce is the best part!)
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pineapple juice
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Enjoy some of the fruits of our labor - pork recipes from our table to yours!  Thanks to Karen Fredrickson & Linda Dutton of Little Cedar church in Little York, IL for allowing me to hodge-podge their recipes together!

Monday, January 24, 2011

All bedded in for the night...

Well Calf #102, another heifer was born last week in the frigid temperatures.  Today (~20-30 degrees) is what I would define as "cold".  Cold are the temperatures at which you can handle working outside for 2-3 hours with enough layers, and if you work hard enough (as in creating the wonderful bedding layer seen in the picture below), you'll actually sweat through the bottom layer or two of clothes.  However, last Friday reached frigid cold.  The high didn't hit double digits, it is hard to breathe outside, and washing milking machines is a dreaded task.  It was one of those days where you question why you went to college to spend your time working outside with animals. (I'm also thankful that I had lots of computer work to do for work, so could stay inside most of the day)!
It takes lots of work & bedding to keep cows and calves warm and dry in temperatures like this.  We take extra care to keep our maternity pen bedded so that when a new calf is born, it is born into a clean, dry environment.

Daisy Mae is due to be our next new mother on the dairy

 I'm especially happy that Calf #102 (we're still working on a name) is here, as it is a sign of hard work and a little bit of luck.  Her mother, Ribbon, was born a month premature, nearly 4 years ago!  That is just as big of a deal in cows as it is in people.  Through some good babying (thanks to Brent's mom), Ribbon not only survived, but she also lived to have 3 calves on our farm, and she shows no signs of slowing down.  We'll be testing milk in the next week or two, and so we should see how well Ribbon is milking by that time, as well as the rest of our cows.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Million Dollar Reward!

Calving Season 2011 has begun!  In fact, in began on Friday, when we were greeted (a couple days early) by our first calf, and happily, also a heifer calf.  You may wonder why we get more excited about heifer (girl) calves versus bull (boy) calves.  Well, to some it is obvious - to others not so much, but we produce milk on our farm.  In order to produce milk, one must first have a baby, like all mammals, and in order to have a baby, one must be female!  We sell the bull calves, and they are raised on other farms for beef.  Heifers are the future of our herd, and we get excited each and every time one is born. 

One of our barn cats thought they would help keep our new calf warm & toasty! :-)

One of the fun aspects of a new heifer calf is getting to name them.  Now, not all farmers name their calves, but many do.  While this calf will be #101 (first calf born in 2011), she will also have the name, Po-Cop Million Dollar Reward.  This may seem like an odd name, but naming on Holstein farms has an established theory.  All calves originating from our farm start with our prefix, "Po-Cop" (a combination of Pollard & Coppernoll - Brent's mom's maiden name).  That is followed by the bull's name (in this case "Million"), and then a name, which starts with the same letter as her dam's name (in this case, Dam/Mom is Radichio), and it is always enjoyable to come up with interesting names that we will remember.  Examples:  Christmas born on Christmas, Turducken born on Thanksgiving.  I remember before we were married that Brent would show me around the farm, and I still remember certain names of cows (Kennebunkport & Twink).  You have to be careful to not use names that are too close together.  It isn't any fun to try to sort cows & distinguish Karoline from Carolyn by the person on the other end of the barn. 

Here's hoping that we will see Calf #102 born happy & healthy.  Hopefully, they will wait to be born, as it sounds like next week will bring a blast of cold winter weather that will have us working hard to keep everything warm, dry & comfortable.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Thank you to all of the family & friends who asked about this blog over the holidays!  You have prompted me to make a New Year's Resolution to blog on a regular basis. 

As always, the Christmas season is a busy one for everyone, but even more so when there are animals to care for.  For us, Christmas planning begins in March & April, which means it is nearly time to begin planning for Christmas 2011!  While I am an early shopper, that is not the type of planning I am talking about.  Instead, we have to plan around the cows and their lives.  In particular, we plan to NOT have any babies around Christmas.  Cows have a nine month gestation period, and so we have to think about not having calves in December & January in March & April.  Not only does this give us a break as their caretakers, (and therefore, make for limited surprises when we are trying to get to family & friend events) but it also is the coldest time of year (typically), and allows us to avoid  problems with trying to keep new babies warm and comfortable this time of year.

Christmas with our families reminds how much people that don't live on the farm are missing out on things that are so obvious to us that do.  For example, while my parent's sold our cow herd when I left for college, we still rent out the parts of the farm that are too hilly to be farmed to a neighbor who keeps some cattle.  My cousins' kids (~2 yrs old) were standing in the window over Christmas, completely in awe of these big creatures that they had never seen before.  And, bringing the baby pig in from the farrowing house for the kids to see is always a highlight of every Christmas!

May you all be able to spend a relaxing evening after the bustle of the holiday season.  Our day will hopefully have us catching up on some outside activities!  Stay tuned.