Separated at birth

The question always comes up while giving a barn tour (which is wonderful, I always love questions).

“How long do you leave a calf with it’s mother after it is born?  A few hours?  A few days?”

The answer is this:  “Hopefully, just a few minutes.”

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Vince with his 4-H project for the summer. Her name is Star, and here she is at just a few hours old.

Does that seem wrong to you?  I am a mom, so I do understand the concept of bonding but I want to point out a few things.

1.  We want the mother to rest.  At our farm, we always want her to first lick her calf clean and then rest and recover from the work of giving birth.

2.  We want the calf to be safe.  If a newborn calf gets stepped upon by it’s mother, that is unacceptable to us.

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It typically takes a calf a few hours to gain the ability to stand up. This calf is named Heart, and she is going to go to the county fair as a project for my niece.

There is really no benefit to waiting until the calf has nursed.  We feed the calf a measured amount of quality colostrum collected from a herdmate a day or two prior.  While knowing the amount of colostrum as well as the quality is important, the biggest benefit is knowing that it is clean.  We thoroughly clean the teats before we milk cows every single time — a calf or a cow doesn’t have that ability.  Trust me, birthing is not a cleanly endeavor.

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These calves are now a month old — how fast the summer days fly by!

Does this make sense?  Typically, I see nods of agreement once I explain it this way.  Each and every farm is different, and handles things as they best see fit.  This is what works well for us.

Strawberry Julius, our Sunday tradition (recipe!)

There’s just something fantastic about having family traditions, centered around the joy they bring to our children especially.  Not every Sunday, but most, I make breakfast.  That’s tradition.  We go beyond the yogurt or cereal, and I heat up the oven.  My mom made bacon and eggs all the time, but Joe has no desire for that.  He does however, like a sweet bread or a scone or something similar on a Sunday morning.

With it, I serve Strawberry Julius.  It is something I have adapted and changed over the years and certainly never need to get our a recipe card for anymore.  But first, let me tell you about the strawberries we use!  Each summer, we make the 25 minute drive to Getting’s Garden of Sanborn, Iowa.  We just visited there on Thursday and had so much fun.  Kids are welcome to pick and they absolutely love the “Strawberry Express” John Deere Gator ride out to the patch.  It is always neat to visit with the people picking in the rows next to us and the flats seem to fill up fast.  This year, after we had finished picking and while the kids were enjoying a chocolate malt and a strawberry slushie as a reward for good behavior in the patch, I had a chance to visit with Mary Jo, part owner.

She said it has been a great season, made especially wonderful by the mild weather that has provided a long stretch of picking days.  I was curious as to the total number of pounds of berries picked this year, but she said they don’t keep track of that exact figure.  She said there are only a few days left to pick this week, so hurry out there if you want a chance!  Later in the season, one can also return for raspberries and then pumpkins.

The 20 pounds of berries we picked were perfect for freezing.  I don’t get wound tight about getting the biggest berries…the small ones are actually nicer for my blender.  Other than a few pounds to our family and neighbors (as well as fresh strawberry syrup with whipped cream on some pancakes that night), we froze them all to use for Sunday morning Strawberry Julius.  Here’s the recipe.

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It’s really that good — Strawberry Julius.

Strawberry Julius

1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. milk

2 T. sugar

Splash of vanilla

1 c. frozen strawberries

Blend all ingredients except for frozen strawberries.  Then, add the berries slowly and blend until smooth.  It’s that easy.

I had made just plain Orange Julius for years, but was in a pinch one Sunday morning with no ice cubes so I threw in strawberries instead.  Much tastier.