A bit of baking

This weekend we had a couple inches of rain so we are stalled for corn harvest and it’s not even great weather to get much cattle work accomplished. So, I took the chance to work a bit in my kitchen. Plus, baking bread is a great reason to turn up the heat a bit as bread rises better in warm temperatures 😃

image

Zöpf, dried fruit & honey

I made Zöpf, a Swiss traditional sweet bread, dehydrated pears & plums yesterday. Plus, buns today. Here are my recipes.

For the fruit, I simply washed, sliced & cored the fruit and left them on the dehydrator over night. Store the fruit in a air tight container or bag afterwards.

image

Pears ready for the dehydrator

For the Zöpf, my mother taught me how to bake and I’m not much of a recipe follower. This is pretty much what I use to make  2 Zöpf:

Zöpf Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, soft
2 pounds white flour
1 egg beaten

Preparation:
Mix milk, salt, yeast & sugar together in a large bowl. Allow yeast to grow for 10 minutes.
Mix flour and butter into bowl. Knead to a soft dough. This usually takes about 10 minutes by hand, or 5 minutes when using a machine.
Cover and let grow for about one hour or until size has doubled. Punch down the dough.
Cut dough in two or four pieces of the same size. Braid as desired. Check out YouTube for bread braiding tutorials if you need tips.
Put bread on a baking sheet & let rise again for an hour.
Before baking, brush the Zöpf with egg yolk.
Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes in the lower part of the pre-heated oven at about 400 degree Fahrenheit. I always add a small baking tin filled with water to my oven to keep the humidity of my oven higher.

image

Nice buns, baby.

For my buns, I have an age old 2 hour bun recipe that I use. Again, I’m free and loose for my recipes, so my measures for flour vary depending on how I feel that day.

2 Hour-ish Buns

Ingredients
3 cup warm water
1/3 c sugar
1/4 canola oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp instant yeast
2 eggs beaten
4 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats

Mix yeast, water, salt, sugar. Allow to ferment 15 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix until a dough is well-formed. Again, about 5 minutes. Cover and let stand about 20 minutes.
Punch down dough. Form into buns and place on greased baking sheets. I dust my buns with a touch if flour as I form them. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes.  This makes 3 dozen medium sized buns. Again, I use the tin with water to add humidity to my oven.

Advertisements

My husband is a cover model!

 

SK Cattlemans cover

This fall, we were flattered to be asked to be featured in a local cattleman’s magazine. At the farm, we believe that any chance to share our farming story is a good thing, so we agreed. There was a lot of back and forth between interviewing my husband, Kelly, and I as well as fact checking for the story.We also, were lucky to have  a photographer come out for a day in December as we were moving cows home from pasture.We’re pretty proud of our operation. The article is geared toward farmers, but anyone interested will learn about the way we run the farm.  Take a look at the story here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome 2016 – Oh the things to look forward to!

New-Years

I’ll admit i, I’m a fan of New Years.  After the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, I look forward to the New Year, putting down goals for the year and getting back into routine. Plus, for us on the farm, it’s getting close to my favorite time of the year – calving!! I see the turn of the calendar as an opportunity to adjust and look forward. I’m not about huge changes or rash judgement and don’t jive with the big “New Year, New You” mantra out there;  not for my fitness nor for my farm planning. I like to reflect on the previous year, note the wins and losses for the year, and then set my new goals. I set them often, not just at New Years. I’m a fan of quarterly goals. For the farm, that means a changing of seasons and new projects to look forward to. Personally, that means after 3 months, you have pretty good idea if your goal is working for you, whether it be fitness, nutrition or just getting the darn office desk organized (this one is my nemesis).

My tips for Goal Setting:

  1. Write them down.
  2. Be specific.
  3. Review the goal as well as what has and has not worked in the past for you.
  4. Priotize and organize. What are big goals and your small goals? I break mine down to 1st, 2nd, 3rd priority.
  5. Break your goals down into small steps.
  6. Share them with someone.
  7. Seek out support.
  8. Leap…go for it.  Do it!

So here’s to 2016’s goals. I’m 5 days in a loving it so far!

Why I married a Farmer…He and She Said Edition

Family Pic 2014Seeing as it’s the week of love, I have seen a pile of “X Reasons I’m glad I married a Farmer” posts by ladies out and about in social media. Mostly these posts have been from ladies that didn’t come from a farm background. I love hearing their stories of how they came to love being involved on the farm and in agriculture. These posts are interesting to me as I have always been a farmer. Born on a dairy farm with 5 brothers and a sister, I was the serious tom boy of the family. I have been referred to as the “6th brother” by my siblings on a regular basis since I spent so much time in the barn with them.

I have been involved a farm operation of one sort or another my entire life. My husband I both have always wanted to farm and worked together for this fantastic common goal. I realize there are fewer “born and raised on a farm” farming females, so I feel a strong need to share our story as well: Why my husband and I married each other and why we love being a team in life and business:

  1. Lifestyle. We love being able to feel a deep connection to the land and our family. We are a true family farm with my husband parents and brother and ourselves farming together. Our kids get to grow up with their family and they are learning some of the greatest life lesson I believe I can give them: how to work and a great understanding of how nature works. We both love working outside and cherish the time we get to do so together.
  2. Teamwork. Nothing says team building like herding a set of mature bulls back into their pen at 10:00 at night by flashlight in the spring mud. We have learned to trust each other implicitly and most of the time, we can anticipate each other’s thoughts and actions.
  3. Having each other’s back. We are a team, when one falters, the other ponies up, no questions asked. Last year my husband hurt his back during late calving and early breeding season. We immediately adapted our roles so he was more the home bound care taker and I was out checking cows and helping with breeding. Now, that I’m pregnant and not feeling so well, my husband has stepped up his game in the house, I do what I can and our extended family helps out. On weekend, the kids are dispersed to whoever has a job outside that is appropriate to have the kids with and we all do our best.
  4. Common Goals. We are each other’s cheer leaders, because we have very common goals. We worked for 10 years in order to save enough to get back to the farm. Pay off the farm truck? Hurrah!! Made our goal for sale day averages? Everybody wins. Working together make us better people, we learn how to leverage each other’s strengths and work on developing our weaknesses
  5. We make each other better. Funny story, I was in the sales industry for 10 years and still hated calling strangers. Yep, it took a lot of pep talks from my husband to get past the fear of the phone (I’m great at face to face convos). It’s helped me professionally at my off farm jobs and personally for our farm business ventures. On the flip side, my experience with dairy has been pretty handy to up our game with our purebred operation, we’ve improved our sanitation and calf management immensely and our bottom line has rewarded us.
  6. Kindness and tolerance. Having a business and a marriage with the same person does lend itself to some chances to get grumpy but don’t stay that way for long. Having a farm business means conflict needs to be dealt with head on and quickly. A festering argument doesn’t help anyone; the cows can tell when your attitude is off and we don’t want to risk any farm accidents because anger or distraction. It’s simply not worth the risk.
  7. Passion for the industry. We are both all in when it comes to agriculture. We are both fortunate that we didn’t have some of the growing pains that many farm families have when our person has to adapt to farm life from a more urban upbringing. We both grew up with the understanding that farm work needs to get done and crews need to be fed and both are important pieces of the farm business. So we are pretty much both farm fanatics, so a day working together is a great date for us.
  8. We have lots to talk about. Any long drive is a great time for us to discuss of farm goals, where are with the kids, how the crops are growing, what to contract, what bulls we need to replace. No end of conversation. Yes, we talk about non-farm stuff too, but usually it ties back to ag in some way or another 🙂

P.S. If Hub’s had written this, a man of fewer words, it would have been much shorter.

When consumers reach out.

Last week I had the rare occasion where our farm had a consumer reach out to us looking for beef. We don’t sell beef off the farm and we likely weren’t quite the type of producer she was looking for. Her message and my reply are below. It’s scary to reach out to the unknown public. I had no idea about her motive or how she would reply. I drafted my responses, my husband and I both reviewed in multiple times and then with great trepidation, I hit the send button. So far there has been no response, but I feel I did my best to sell my Ag story and we opened up our farm doors to this person. I’d love to hear what what anyone thinks of the exchange as consumer or farmer.

Consumer looking for Beef

The Inquiry

Hello I’m looking to find local famers that can help me with providing real, wholesome foods for my family. I’m looking for organic GMO free foods of all types (meat, eggs, milk, fruit and veggies). It is also very important to me that the animals used to produce the foods were treated with care and dignity before slaughter and fed a proper diet ( cows were fed grass etc.) If there is anyone that can help me find more information about this kind of thing I would be so greatful! I’m looking to make a drastic change in mine and my family’s diet for our physical/mental health, as well as to support a healthy and moral food system in our world. Please comment or inbox me if you are able to help. 🙂

My Reply 

Hi XXXX;

I’m Julie-Anne from the Howe Family Farm page. We generally do not sell beef directly off the farm. We are a purebred breeder selling our cattle to other ranchers. However, we do manage our cattle in a pretty typical manner for cow calf producers that sell into to the commercial beef supply chain. Our cattle spend May-November on pasture and are fed hay and a bit of grain we produced on our land and a mineral/vitamin supplement. We have the diet specifically formulated by a cattle nutritionist and work closely with our veterinarian on our herd health practices. When an animal is sick, we treat it and do our best to make them better. We see it as the ethical way to treat our animals, if they are sick they need medication. We have our vet prescribe an antibiotic or other medicines. The withdrawal times on the medicines are noted and respected. This means animal that have been treated are not sent for slaughter until they are healthy and all of the medication is cleared from their body. So although we are not organic farmers, we believe our beef absolutely a safe nutritious product.

We also have an Environmental Farm Plan developed through the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, for our farm to manage and reduce our environmental foot print. This is our home and we have every intention to preserve the land and ecosystem. There are many native species that peacefully co-exist with our cattle: deer, owls, badgers, ducks etc.

On our farm, I have a Master’s in Cattle Nutrition and Microbiology, as well, we have an agriculture degree and a vet all in the family. We are passionate about caring for our stock in the best way possible. If you want to learn about our farm operation, I am more than happy to answer more questions. I also am a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition and Wellness Specialist certified by Can Fit Pro. I also run a personal blog about farming and food at www.fit2farm.ca.

My family eats the beef we raise and I am 100% confident in the food production system in Canada. I applaud your commitment to healthy eating, and understand there is a lot fear surrounding food and agricultural technology. We have an amazing regulatory system for food safety through Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Did you know that ALL beef is tested to ensure there are no residues from any medicines that were given to cattle are in our food? I’m a mom and I get the amount of fearful messaging about food that is out in media and online. My kids eat the beef and food products from the grains that produce and I feel very safe about it. If you want specifics, I’d be happy to answer any further questions.
I am sorry that it appears that you don’t feel that farmers are doing the right thing. As with all industries most are doing the best job they can and the few bad apples ruin the whole bunch. Our barn doors are always open and I encourage to reach out ask any questions you may have.

Cheers;
Julie-Anne Howe

Move it Monday- It doesn’t have to be fancy!

It’s stormy out today. A late spring snow squall. So I made myself up a resistance band workout to do over lunch in my office. Nothing fancy, but it got my heart pumping and my shoulders feeling the burn a wee bit.  Just a mat, a resistance band and some tunes. Oh and thank goodness for blinds!!

Image

Office workout set up.

Here’s the run down of I did. It took about 30 minutes:

3 minute warm up – Danced it out

Bicep Curls with band 3 x 15 alternated with  Reverse Chest Flies with band 3 x 15 (i.e a Superset)

2 min fast feet with up downs every 30 seconds or so

Calf Raises 3 x 15  super setted with Sumo Squats 3 x 15

50 Jumping Jacks

Overhead Shoulder Press with band  Overhead Tricep Extensions with band 3 x 15

2 min High Knees

Step Up Lunges 30 x 3 Bent over Rows with Band 3 x 15

Plank to failure 3 time supper setted with Crunches 3 x 25

Stretch and you’re done 🙂