~Luke Dougherty and Clayton Callens, Our Shearing Team~

Lovely ladies minus a fine layer of wool.

Lovely ladies minus a fine layer of wool.

 

Luke Dougherty, hard at work.  He's an amazing shearing and you'd be surprised how fast too!

Luke Dougherty, hard at work. He’s an amazing shearer and you’d be surprised how fast too!

Luke Dougherty, our son in law, preparing to shear this ewe.

Luke , our son- in -law, preparing to shear this ewe.

Our son Clayton shearing with son in law Luke behind him.

Our son Clayton shearing one of the ewes, also an amazing shearer……naturally I’d say this:)

The boys arrived early to shear the flock of sheep.  Before I knew it,  they were done just as the early lunch was prepared……..delicious pizza!  This year I never made it out to watch the “boys” work.   Seems like they get quicker and quicker every time they shear.  They average around 2 to 3 minutes per animal.  One can imagine what kind of shape a shearer has to be in to be able to accomplish such a task.  Anyhow, when it was all said and done, in a few short hours, the guys had removed the fine wool from 68 bred ewes.    The kids took the photos for me this year so I didn’t get as many as I’d have liked.  The wool is excellent quality Ramboulet.

Beautiful wool, nice clean job.

Beautiful wool; a nice clean job Clayton is doing here.

 

Wow, imagine how thick the wool is.  Before and after  pictures.

Wow, imagine how thick the wool is. Before and after pictures.

 

Fred and Mario packed the wool.

Fred and Mario packed the wool which will be sold when the truck arrives.

 

Silvana and Caleb helped catch the sheep and pick up the wool.

Silvana and Caleb helped catch the sheep and pick up the wool.  This kept them warm!

Luke will be kept busy shearing throughout the  coming months.  If you need some sheep sheared give Luke a call at 507-829-8546!

Lukes truck......ready to unload some wool.

Lukes truck……ready to unload some wool.

Bagged wool,  ready for sale.

Bagged wool, ready for sale.

Clayton, will be switching over to his horse training profession today when his first of the season horses arrive.  If anyone needs a horse trained, you better call and get on the schedule soon; his Spring/Summer schedule is filling up fast!  507-829-8479!

Clayton in his horse barn.

Clayton, my handsome, talented son! (brag intended if you don’t mind:)

God has blessed these two young men in so many ways and being able to make a living in the country is just one of those blessings. 

Clayton Callens and Luke Dougherty.......my favorite and THE BEST shearers!

Clayton Callens and Luke Dougherty…….my favorite and THE BEST shearers!  I’m a lucky mom:)

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~29 Years of Marriage, Wow……Amazing!~

Love of my life........not sure who's having more fun!

Love of my life……..not sure who’s having more fun!

Happy Anniversary to my loving husband, Fred.  It’s been a fast-moving, wonderful 29 years so far.  Marriage is wonderful vocation and I’m so glad God fixed us up.  All I can add is, thank God I have an extremely patient husband!  (I used a calculator to see how many years it has been; that’s how fast the years flew by)

Fred with some of the grandchildren and Isabella.  Happy Anniversary........29 years!

Fred with some of the grandchildren and Isabella. Happy Anniversary……..29 years!

1400 Pounds  of the finest beef around!

1400 Pounds of the finest beef around!

We took advantage of the good weather and decided to butcher our beef.  This is a Jersey cross beef.  Monday we will package it all up for the upcoming summer barbeque season.  Will you be there to join us?

Splitting the beef in half with an electric saw.

Splitting the beef in half with an electric saw.

A couple of weeks ago we butchered  two more hogs.  Delicious!  We made some Italian Sausage and it turned out pretty good.  The kids tried out a few different recipes.  Next on the list to purchase for our butcher shop is, a large sausage stuffer and a bigger meat grinder.  I think it would be worth the investment.  Having purchased all the equipment over the years has allowed us to save thousands of dollars, and enabled us to  process everything at home.  And I mean everything!

This Italian Sausage took three kids to put together!

This Italian Sausage took three kids to put together!

That's me packaging chops.  I love this job and usually get way too silly before it's half way over!

That’s me packaging chops. I love this job and usually get way too silly before it’s half way over!

Salt brine makes great side pork soaked for 4 days.  We haven't been smoking our bacon lately and really like it for a change!

Salt brine makes great side pork soaked for 4 days.

Side pork cut and packaged with love by me!

Side pork cut and packaged with love, by me!

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We were hoping for a nice heifer calf but instead this baby bull calf was born.  He’s so cute, it’s hard not to be happy, right?  He’s a picture of health all around.  The girls have a halter on him already so that he’ll get used to wearing one.  They enjoy training oxen to pull!

Healthy baby bull calf clean enough to snuggle with!

Healthy baby bull calf clean enough to snuggle with!

I have a bunch more photos to post but it’s getting late and mass is at 8:30 a.m.  I’ll be back with more soon.   Have a wonderful day!

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~Milk Goats~

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While on my way out into the barn to meet our new livestock, this Sacred Heart photo caught my eye.  A very nice reminder of Who is in charge.  Not sure which one of the kids hung it up there but I’m glad they did!

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Meet Mabel!  She’s a French Alpine dairy goat who will be a first time mom sometime in March.  It’s been a very long time since we’ve had goats.  I’m thinking 2007 or 2008.  Those who know me will be shocked knowing how much I dislike them.  This is Fred’s plan though and who am I to stand in the way!   He figures, and rightly so, the youngest children here need a very early morning purpose.  They need something more time sensitive then light chicken chores etc.  Mario and Isabella were begging to have something to milk so this is the end result of much debate.  Below is the second goat.

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This French Alpine is named Sabrina.  They are pure bred and seem to be of very good quality.   She is due in April.  The children are very enthusiastic  to say the least.  One of our milk cows, on the other hand, is less than thrilled at the newcomers.  “Annette” kept jumping over the fence in fear of the new goats which she had never before been exposed to.  She is still, after 4 days, adjusting to the idea.  Anyway, as much as I prefer dairy cows, I must say these goats are really beautiful!  So far………so good.  Now I will continue to like them if they stay where they are supposed to be.  They have to stay out of my yard and out of the gardens!! Then, life will be peaceful here on the Callens Farm!

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Cute isn’t she?  What’s not to like?  Both of our youngest children are so excited about the prospect of having their own animals to milk.  They will need to have guidance from the older ones around here and listen carefully or else risk the loss of this important responsibility.  It’s opportunity like this that helps create a good sense of work ethic.  Start small on the farm with little jobs, as they have for quite a while and then move on to the next best thing.   Honestly I’ve been consoling myself with the fact that goat milk is actually better for us than cows milk.  So we need more milk around here?  The answer is no!  At least not for now but the children need this and so the next adventure starts.  One of our milk cows is “on vacation” until around March 4 when she will give birth to a baby calf.

That’s the news for now.

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~Life in the Winter~

Fred and Caleb *

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The donkey’s hooves were so badly in need of a trim and Peter was nice enough to trim them for us.  What a job though!!  These hooves I doubt had ever been trimmed but he did a great job.  They looked like they were wearing shoes.

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Life goes on even in cold weather. Everything must be done no matter how terribly cold it is.  It’s hard not to notice the incredible beauty of our surroundings even as we labor.  What a blessing to see what our Creator has made for all.  We dream of spring even as more snow falls:)

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Our friends loaned us a couple of sheep bucks because we found that not all of our ewes were bred.  They are wearing a strap over their shoulders with chalk so that we can see if the bucks have been active.  It was another neighbor who ultra sound, preg checked our ewes.  What a blessing good neighbors are.

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Moon light and one of the milk cows.  You can almost feel the cold in the photo!  The snow crunches and squeaks when it is this cold!  Brrrrr

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A steer jumped out of the pen and had to be escorted back inside.  A three hand job!

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Some of the sheep herd eating fresh feed.  Contrary to what some folks believe, sheep are amazing animals.  Sheep give warm wool without giving up their lives.  Because inputs are lower on sheep, we have always made some sort of profit on them as livestock.   I do think though, the saying  “a sick sheep is a dead sheep” is true:)  They need constant shepherding just like in the bible!

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Fred opens gates for Marisa.  Thank God for the skid loader!  Marisa’s back is saved from carrying a very heavy load of hay!

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Caleb milks one of our family milk cows.  A blessing yes……..some would say a pain in the behind.  When you have milk cows, there is no way getting around a milking and you have to be there pretty much, in a timely manner, to milk the cows every single day.  It doesn’t matter who’s getting married, who’s having a gathering, who’s going on vacation.  The fact of the matter is that someone has to be there, twice a day.  If you weigh the blessings vs. the lack of freedom, I think the blessings win hands down.

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Knowing where your milk comes from these days is very important. Raw milk is far superior than store-bought milk. The economics of it, with a large family, is quite a benefit.  Our cows eat grass in season, alfalfa hay, corn and oats during the off-season.  We give them a mineral block and iodized salt free choice.  The return is greater than the inputs.  Our cows give us enough milk to make cheese, butter, cream, yogurt, ice-cream, milk and creamy soups.  We haven’t bought milk from town for over 25 years.  For a time we had milk goats.

If you don’t want to be tied down to a family cow, you should be willing to pay someone else well for the work and cost of milking cows.  It’s worth it.  ( You all should do some research on the importance of iodine.  Most people are short of iodine and you need to make sure you are getting plenty.  Your iodized salt shaker doesn’t have enough)

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Hauling feed keeps you warm.

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Isabella picks our eggs several times a day in order to avoid frozen eggs.   The kids enjoy their chores of course and being part of the family farm.  They reap the benefits of some really good home-grown food.

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These beauties are lucky to have the best of both worlds. They have the freedom of running around out-of-doors and they also get to stay warm and cozy in their nice straw beds in the barn.  We wouldn’t want them to lose any weight freezing to death out side at night now would we?  These hogs are sold to Niman Ranch and to private customers.  The flavor is absolutely delicious!   Below is our own Side Pork…….salt cured.  Yummy……..

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Winter days are fun.  They are made for relaxing, playing and eating fine foods with family and friends.

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Today we had Stromboli and Marinara sauce.  Caleb made the dough before the Confirmation Mass which he was lucky enough to serve at with our Bishop.  Truth be told, he had two batches of dough made up before I even woke up!  He milks at 5:30 A.M. in my defense and it is Sunday!

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Peter made these delicious Garlic Knots.  If you’d like to make these, here is how he makes them.  Make up some pizza dough. Any recipe will work.  I think his is from The Joy of Cooking book which he has memorized.  Let the dough rise.  Roll out and cut into strips and form into pretzel shapes using flour to make them less sticky and easier to handle.  Alow them to rise and puff out some.  Melt butter, a ton of chopped fresh garlic (I MEAN A TON)……..salt and parsley.  After the knots are cooked, throw them in a large bowl and mix in the buttery mix. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Holy smokes these are sinfully delicious.  They smell so good.

For my local readers, a new shipment of honey has been delivered to Brad’s Market in Minneota.  Grab some for those winter colds!  We will have some nice hogs ready the end of March.  If you would like one, give us a call so we can make an appointment for slaughter.  This is A number one pork.  If you have tasted our pork…….you might mention it to others.  Thanks:)

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“Horse Manure Heat and Hot Water”

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Everybody knows how cold the winter has been, not only out here on the prairie, but all over the country!  We have an outdoor wood stove that heats our entire large home as well as supplies us with all of our hot water.  There are eight of us living under one roof and so you can imagine how much hot water is used with dishes, laundry, showers etc.  Fred decided to burn some of the horse manure in our outdoor burner to see how well it burned.  He took frozen fresh “nuggets” and put them in an already hot wood stove and has been blending it throughout the day and then mixing it in with our wood for the evening fire which lasts all night.

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Not only does burning the manure work, we knew it would burn, but a couple of pails burn for quite a few hours.  We have no shortage of wood but it is nice to stretch what we have as this winter has shaped up to be colder than normal.  But, there are many who are short of wood this year due to the extreme cold.  You can see how large the house is and if you look closely at the photo you can see the smoke from the outdoor stove on the right by the wood shed.  We smile about this because for years and years we have had horses here and as the saying goes for horses, they mainly are “hay burners”!  Meaning, they are mostly recreational!

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If anyone has thought of purchasing an outdoor wood stove to heat your home, we highly recommend these.  Ours is a Hardy brand, all stainless steel, 18 years old, purchased used for $2500.00 They are safe since the fire is located outdoors.  It keeps us warmer than we need; most of the day the fan is turned off and frequently the windows are thrown open, especially in the kitchen!

I can imagine burning  manure would work in a wood stove located within your home as well but you would want to be creative and keep it frozen on the porch and maybe load it carefully into bags so you could neatly pop a load in the stove of your choice without spilling any!  We have it easy compared to those who in days of old had to scavenge the prairie for buffalo patties to burn.  We thank God we do not use propane to heat our home as the price has been outrageous this year for so many.

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I’ve been dreaming of a way to harvest the warmth of our stove for a greenhouse.  When it’s this cold for so long, a person dreams of spring and I have already ordered in our seeds!  I mention what I need and usually Fred will come up with a farmer idea to carry out the plan.  Last year he made a bunch of cold frames which work swell.

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~A Callens Family Christmas~

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Christmas is all about the birth of our Savior, Jesus!  We think of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the stable and all of the difficulties they must have experienced that first Christmas.  How can we forget?  Father Timmerman has been reminding us for weeks now and it’s been on our minds.   Mary, nine months pregnant had to ride a donkey and gave birth in a drafty old stable. He came to us poor and under very difficult circumstances.  Those of us who have given birth probably cringe at the thought.  Could we do it?

Imagine riding one of these while getting ready to give birth...........

Imagine riding one of these while getting ready to give birth to our Savior………..

Fr. Craig Timmerman St. Leo Church Nativity

Fr. Craig Timmerman St. Leo Church Nativity, Caleb serving.  Anyone see Blase?

It’s only natural that this holy time of year is centered around the Holy Family and our own families, holy or not so holy.  Families from all over get together to experience the family traditions.  Some may or may not get along, others dread the thought of old wounds being opened.  I’d bet parents are hopeful that old problems can finally be worked out.  Why not?  What better time of year for making things right in the world and in our families right?  After all Jesus is Love.  He came to save us.  I say, let the entire world take advantage of this love.  Some things you can’t change as much as you’d love to. So, I suggest there is only one real plan of attack!  Prayer…..prayers for peace, conversion, love and renewal.  Don’t kid yourselves either. There are no perfect families out there and that’s why we must look to the model of the Holy Family.

A full church at St. Leo, 4:00 mass, Fr. Craig Timmerman.

A full church at St. Leo, 4:00 mass, Fr. Craig Timmerman.

We reflect back over the year and count our blessings that we did not experience any severe trials.  I wonder if our children know how lucky they really are to be raised in a home, with parents who love them and each other. How I wish all children in the world could be loved and raised in the knowledge of that parental love!  The world isn’t a perfect place but parents, all around, try to do what is best in whatever situation they may be experiencing.

Fred and Sandra Callens

Fred and Sandra Callens

Fred and Sandra Callens Family 2013

Fred and Sandra Callens Family 2013 In Jessica and Luke’s Lovely Straw Bale House!

It has been a good year on the Callens Farm.  We are thankful for our friends, family, health and our Catholic Faith.  What a joy our grandchildren have been to all of us.  There will be new life again this year in the family! May God bless  young couples everywhere who are open to life!

The farm produced an abundant harvest of meat, milk, eggs and garden produce.  Honey production was good this year and the sales are going well.  We can only pray that the bees make it through this winter!  There was plenty of hard work and effort to get the work done.  We’ve no major changes to report.   Thank you so much for the wonderful Christmas cards this year.  We wish all children and families everywhere a very Merry Christmas, love, peace and joy in the New Year.

Christmas gifts for our children at home.

Christmas Gifts 2013.

Our Daughter Jessica, her husband Luke and children Maura, Cael and Anya Dougherty!

Our Daughter Jessica, her husband Luke with children Maura, Cael and Anya Dougherty!

Our daughter Francesca, husband Peter with children Blase and Kallie Jo Ryland!

Our daughter Francesca, husband Peter with children Blase and Kallie Jo Ryland!

Tuning up for Silent Night at mass.

Tuning up for Silent Night at mass.

Isabella Angel enjoying a very White Christmas!

Isabella Angel enjoying a very White Christmas!

Fred having fun with Mario and Bella during Christmas.

Fred having fun with Mario and Bella during Christmas.

Star and Caleb gave rides to the kids!

Star and Caleb gave rides to the kids!

Sweet grandchildren, the next generation!

Children are always a blessing……..Sweet grandchildren, the next generation!

4:00 Mass Jessica and Frenchy snuck up to the choir to sing with Marisa , Silvana and Clayton a St. Leo Tradition O Holy Night!

4:00 Mass Jessica and Frenchy snuck up to the choir to sing with Marisa , Silvana and Clayton a St. Leo Tradition O Holy Night!

The girls made way too many Bismarks!  107

The girls made way too many Bismarck’s! 107 I think….

Anet sent us a box of delicious carmel apples, thanks Anet!!

Anet sent us a box of delicious caramel apples, thanks Anet!!

Zio Gino sent 3 of these italian traditional Panettone, thank you!

Zio Gino sent 3 of these italian traditional Panettone, thank you!

Sugar and spice, everything nice.....sweet!

Sugar and spice, everything nice…..

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~Honey Farm Yogurt~

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Home-made Yogurt With Our Own Raspberries and Honey!! 

Recently my friend Helaine, who is an organic dairy farmer out in South Dakota, shared with me some of her yogurt secrets.  I have been making yogurt for years and so consider myself an expert…ha. Guess the joke is on me!  Anyhow, my yogurt was lousy compared to the new yogurt recipe and method I now use. Probably the most important change I’ve made is using Stonyfield Organic Yogurt for my starter culture instead of the Dannon.   Also raising the temp to a higher degree.   This has 6 active LIVE cultures in it.  No toxic pesticides used and it is as smooth and creamy as can be.  It comes out as thick as the Greek yogurt right out of the jar, no straining needed at all!

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Here is the simplified recipe:

Wash very well your wide-mouth jars either, quarts or the 1/2 gallon jars.  Heat your milk, ours is cow fresh whole milk, to 180 degrees.  (This was a switch for me.  I can control which culture I want to grow without having to compete against unwanted bacteria. And after all I am only after the good buggies at this point!)  I do this on the stove in a large stainless pot.  Let it cool down to 115-120 degrees Max either in the pot or in your sterile jars.  Next simply add 2 tablespoons of the Stonyfield yogurt to each container and place lids on and shake a bit.  If you make the two quart/ half gallon size jars then add 4 tablespoons.  Have a cooler, the kind you pack beer/pop or sandwiches in on picnics, ready and fill it with hot tap water no less than 98 degrees and no more than 115 degrees.  Have the water cover the jars all the way up to the neck. No need to peek because this is a no fail recipe……. This will be thick as Greek with hardly a trace of whey in a matter of 6 to 8 hours.  Honestly, mine has never taken more than 6 hours!  How easy is that??  Amazing stuff.

Also, you can save your Stonyfield yogurt and reuse your home-made yogurt over and over.  Make sure you take it out fresh and not from a jar that was eaten out of.  Because the temp was raised to 180 degrees, you have only the good cultures and it grows the same as the town stuff.

Refrigerate and you can add your own fruit, honey, or even real maple syrup to this.  If you like vanilla flavored just add a tiny drop of vanilla.  EASY and healthy especially with flu season coming!  Happy Advent!

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