Life on the Farm – A Winter Update

Brrrrr… its cold outside! The temps we have been experiencing on our Michigan farm this year have been crazy! Not only have we had snow and but we have had temperatures so frigid that my kid’s school has been canceled due to extreme wind chill! I am always amazed how animals are able to make it through winter, when it’s not even safe for my kiddos to go to school. God sure made them special. As for the cows, they spend their days near the food. The fermented hay and silage are a great source of protein and heat to help them get through these winter months. We do provide them with a barn to go into if they want, but they rarely do. Even during the big snow storms or ice storms, they just turn their butts to the wind and ride it out. It’s funny to me how wooly the cows get. Their hair gets so long and thick and I actually think they like the snow because it probably acts as a blanket as it piles up on their backs. Even the calves spend most of their time outside. After a particularly large snow storm recently, I thought we had a herd of polar bears instead of cows! They all had at least 3 inches of snow covering them.

We have a bunker silo full of feed to help them get through the winter, but we also have the big job of making sure they have access to fresh water. Water is the toughest part of farm life in the winter. It probably isn’t something you worry about, unless you have a garden house that you forgot to put away for the winter. Let me tell you, when you have thirsty animals, and it is -3 degrees outside, water is your biggest worry. Luckily, we have electricity in our barn and have some very large water tanks with a pretty nifty invention called a water heater. This great device floats in the water tank and heats the water to keep in from freezing. We still have the daily job of hooking up the hose, filling the tank and then draining the hose (very slowly!!). As a kid, I hated to drain the hose, but after 1 frozen hose, thirsty cows, and angry parents, I decided that I better take my time and do it right! So, each time I unhook the hose from the hydrant, I hold one end over my head, then slowly walk the entire length of the hose with it over my head to make sure that all the water runs out, as I tell myself “Don’t rush it!”

Winter has its pro’s and con’s here on the farm. The cold weather that freezes the water also freezes the ground and keeps the mud at bay. We hate the mud, and so do the cows. As the ground thaws the pasture becomes a soupy mess that the cows have to trudge through to get anywhere. This can totally ruin the pastures, so we have to use a good rotation schedule. Another con of the winter is that fresh grass isn’t growing during our harsh winters, but thankfully our cows are still able to be fed grasses in the form of hay and silage through the use of our bunker system. The cows seem to be pretty happy either way and luckily their warm wooly coats keep them just the right temperature.

I hope you enjoyed this little window to the farm as I fill you in on what it’s like to take care of our cows in the winter months.

 

~ Katie

New Year

Happy New Year to all of our amazing John Henry’s customers and followers! Every year, I look forward to the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I love all the parties and family gatherings. I love creating memories with my kids as we work on our homemade Christmas gifts. The end of the year brings so much joy and I love the feeling of a new year full of possibilities. I saw this great quote about the New Year “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one. – Brad Paisley. I love this for so many reasons. The best books are those filled with drama, suspense, joys, sorrow and all the emotions life offers us. Each page holds a twist or a turn and there are so many perspectives. Our lives are our book, each day we have a new page to write our story. Let’s choose to make it a good one. In 2017, at John Henry’s, we wrote a story with some twists and turns. We expanded our farm and spent most of the summer fixing things and getting ready for more animals. We welcomed in a few new team members such as Alicia and Joe, as others left to pursue their dreams. We really shook things up when we started shipping UPS. We went from freezing all of our meats as soon as they were cut to being able to offer fresh meats to our customers. Grandma Pat went from delivering meat orders all over Metro Detroit twice every week to handling our egg delivery and cooler pick up route a few times a month. We are now able to ship our grass fed meats all over Michigan and several other states. We have had to learn and implement so many new systems to make sure everything is the best for our customers. Yes, we have had some hiccups along the way, but our story is a good one. We have an amazing team who has put forth so much extra effort to learn new systems and roll with the change. We also have great customers who have stood by us through it all and continue to provide feedback so we can make positive changes that will help everyone.

This year, we hope to include in our story more ready-made (EZ) meals for our customers who need easy and healthy dinners. We want to also give you more Window 2 the Farm pictures and video’s, along with new farm updates.  New blog posts are also on the agenda. Be on the lookout for categories like: Meal Planning, Kitchen Gadgets, Health, What makes us different, and Meat Cut Highlights. I am hoping to make more short video clips talking about all of our different meat cuts and easy to make recipes. Making video clips is tough, especially with a baby, but it is a big goal of mine to get more videos for you. Speaking of the baby – Lyrra (pronounced Lear –ah) joined our family in June and she loves to come to work with me. Follow us on Facebook for pictures of her hanging out in the office with Alicia. If you hear some crying or giggling when you call us, you will know Lyrra is visiting.

We here at John Henry’s hope and pray this is your best year yet. Let’s all write our own story and make it a good one.

~ Katie