Monday, May 30, 2011

Where There Is a Cow......So Must There Be a Pig!

Wherever there is cow "stuff", then there must also be pig "stuff".  That is simply the way it goes in our house.  The car has both Pork & Dairy window clings.  Last Christmas, my parents got us both cow & pig lighted blow-up displays (you'll see those on this blog once the snow flies!).  We have enough pig & cow ornaments to adorn a Christmas tree by themselves.  I remember when we got married; a friend of mine said, "You're going to have pigs on your farm, right?".  When I said "no", he was in complete shock...."But, you're Carrie, you have to have pigs.  It just won't be right if you don't have pigs!"

I moved a lot of my pig stuff to work, but I still keep a few pieces.  I found these in a catalog last week, and gave in (they were only $6, which probably means they are going to bust in the first good wind, but until then I'll enjoy them)!

Cow & Pig Hanging Flower even has a curly tail!

After we finished the bunker at noon on Saturday,

Nearly done!!

I spent the rest of the weekend playing with my flowers.  This is strange as in my high school Horticulture class, I couldn't even keep marigolds alive!  As long as it is outside, and Mother Nature takes care of most of the watering, I seem to be ok.  I keep working on trying to keep the weeds down.  The "pasture" dirt that I steal from the cow's pasture is great stuff for growing plants (as it has a little of that great cow fertilizer mixed in), but the weeds also love it too!


 We'll stay busy in the next few weeks, as we are expecting several new calves, the wind storm is going to require a new roof on the parlor, and we continue to prep & get ready for the teardown, followed by the construction of a new freestall barn for our cows, which they desperately need!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finally.....Down to 145!

Today the USDA finally, after months & years of research & waiting for them to do so, lowered the recommended cooking temperature for pork.  Until today, USDA still recommended that pork be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  This usually resulted in overcooked pork that tastes more like rubber than pork.  USDA revised their cooking guidelines after much research that proved that pork can still be safe when cooked to an internal temperature of 145.  I've been doing this with for years, and it results in a slightly pink center, and the pork is tender & juicy!  The trick is to let the meat rest for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.  Thicker pieces of meat, like chops, loins & tenderloins, will continue to heat even after you take it out of the oven.  If you wait until the internal temperature is 160, it will continue to cook another 5-10 degrees, causing the pork to be extremely chewy.  Removing loins at 145 will result in pork that is slightly pink in the center.  Don't is still safe to eat, and you'll enjoy the improved eating quality that you'll get with a more juicy, tender pork meal.
So, try out the new guidelines this Memorial Day weekend on the grill!  Recipes are available at
I highly recommend pre-marinated center cut loins from Hormel.  I enjoy the parmesan-crusted version, but most any variety is good.  Here's to happy grilling!

                                                    cuban pork tenderloin

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away..... did.....we got LOTS done.....and now it's back!
Ok, so the last time I sat down to start writing a post was 3 weeks ago, and it had this title.  I never actually finished it, because that was the last time we really got serious rain until today.
 In that 3 weeks, Warren got all of the corn & beans planted, Brent sowed alfalfa, which will make hay for our cows in the future, and we made over 30 acres of haylage (or chopped hay)....whew!  All while milking cows twice a day, and making sure they are cared for while we get busy in the fields.
You have to "Make Hay While the Sun Shines", and no truer was that than this week.  Brent mowed hay on Tuesday, and then it took nearly 2 days for it to dry enough that we could run it through our chopping equipment.  Thursday afternoon we started, just in time for Gail & I to milk while Brent & Warren got the beginning of the year bugs worked out of the equipment.  Friday we made good progress, finishing all of the hay we had mowed, and then we finished up the last 5 loads today.  We've still got some equipment kinks to work out, but it looks like we've got a week of on & off rain ahead to get caught up on those projects.

This is what the bunker looks like before we start....we put plastic down the sides & secure it at the bottom (that way water can't weep down the sides when it rains & spoil the hay next to the sides.  

Then, slowly, but surely, we keep adding to the pile.  This wagon is nice, as it allows us to use the hydraulics on the tractor to open up the rear door, and the silage falls out the back.  Brent then uses the skidsteer (with metal tracks for added traction) to pack the hay that will be the feed for the cows next year.

Our bunker is about 150' long & 30' wide & 6' tall, and we will nearly fill it with just the 1st cutting of hay (there are usually 4 "cuttings"), assuming we can get to the last big field in good time.

Once the pile is full, we take the plastic & cover the pile, and let the haylage "ferment" a little bit, and then we'll start incorporating it into the cow's ration.
This is only the 2nd year since Brent & I have been married that we have made hay before Memorial Day (hopefully, the weather will break later this week, and I can say we got all the hay done, and not just some of it).  Making hay is serious business.  You have to guess what the weather is going to do, and this time of year, you never know when showers will pop up.  Hay can make really good feed for the cows, that they will then turn into milk....the "better" (more nutrients, energy) the feed, the more milk they will make, and the better off we will all be.  The better our hay is, the less we have to supplement the cows diets with corn to make up the missing energy.
I'll have some pictures of the rainstorm damage really did a number on the trees in the yard, and the cows were NOT happy when a big "red cell" went over us at about 7 pm tonite, but all is well!