Fall Farm Update
Woo-wee what a year! We are sad to see the end of the grazing season, but glad to be done with
the work of irrigation! The good snow pack helped us to grow excellent grass this year and the
main dairy pastures continue to improve. Although we lost a new seeding we tried to plant, our
sprinkler system did help us grow more high quality grass than we could of with the old flood
irrigation system. We received a good run of water this fall and filled the soil profile on most
of the fields, so we are in good shape to start growth next spring. We also planted 16 acres of
triticale, a cousin to wheat, for early spring grazing, which will help stretch the hay supply.
The drought in Texas and much of the Southwest has caused hay supplies to dwindle quickly in
Colorado and the price to more than double. While we do grow the majority of the hay we need,
we will still have to purchase several hundred bales to get to our first cutting in late May. As the
productivity of the dairy pastures and our grazing management improves each year, we continue
to reduce our need for purchased hay.
The “girls” are looking good this fall, nice clean hair coats and plenty of body fat to get through
the winter. Autumn is one of our favorite times of the year. The bugs are gone, not to hot or
cold, and we start to slow down a little. An otherwise beautiful season was marred by the loss of
Noel last month, but we were blessed last week by the births of 2 more heifers, the last calves of
the year. And the cycles of our farm continue!
New Life on the Farm
One of our Jersey heifers, Punky, had a girl calf on Monday 11/15. Unfortunately, Punky was down with milk fever-- a sickness that occurs when blood calcium levels are too low. Milk fever is more common in Jersey cows than in other breeds, and leaves the new mamas weak and unable to stand. The staff at Larga Vista have been bottle feeding the new calf, named Roxstar. Initially, even with valiant attempts to lift punky using a loader, Punky was not able to get up until 11/21, but she is up and doing much better! She struggled to stand during the hours of trying to lift her and so maintained some muscle strength, which helped her eventually be able to stand. She was also given a special steroid shot recommended by the vet, to be used in emergencies such as this. She can't quite make it to the barn to be milked yet, but she is well on her way to a full recovery. She is one strong mama! We will be posting updates on our facebook page if you would like to keep up with the current happenings on the farm!
Whoever said that cows that eat only grass are skinny and unhealthy haven't seen Punky!
The girl calf, named Roxstar after her grandma, Roxy, who sported a similar white star on her forehead.
Punky and Roxstar on 11/22
Yogurt and Kefir
Yogurt made from raw milk contains 1-2 beneficial bacteria, usually acidophilus and bulgaricus. There is no substitute for the nutritional and taste value of making yogurt from scratch using raw milk from healthy, happy cows. If you are interested in making your own homemade yogurt, Nourished Kitchen has a great tutorial for how to do so. In her recipe, Jenny McGruther (the author of the Nourished Kitchen site) does heat the milk to make the yogurt, but gently-- only to 110° Fahrenheit (about 43° Celsius) which keeps food enzymes and naturally occurring beneficial bacteria intact and thriving. This yogurt is delicious serve over Baked Oatmeal, in smoothies, or in any number of recipes calling for yogurt.
Kefir is a slightly less common fermented milk product that has even more beneficial properties than raw milk yogurt and is even easier to make at home with Larga Vista milk. According to one website, Kefir.net the differences between yogurt and Kefir include the following:
Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match.
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.
Kefir also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites.
Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, the elderly and people experiencing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders.
Also from the Nourishing Kitchen site comes a great description of what kefir really is: "Milk kefir is cultured from a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY) that is coloquially referred to as kefir grains. The appearance of these small colonies of bacteria and yeast vaguely resembles that of cottage cheese or even cauliflower. Milk kefir grains are white, lumpy and gelatinous and are comprised primarily of lactic acid producing bacteria including lactobacillus brevis, streptococcus thermophillus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus helveticus, lactobacillus delbrueckii as well as yeasts that include candida maris, candida inconspicua and saccharomyces cerevisiae. Though, of course, strains of bacteria present may differ from one culture of grains to another.
Obscure and exotic as it may seem, milk kefir is neither difficult to acquire nor difficult to prepare. As with many traditional foods, its beauty lies in its simplicity. It’s easy to begin preparing kefir and incorporating it into your family’s dietary rotation. Once you’ve acquired a kefir grains, simply mix them in with milk – preferably raw – and allow it to culture at room temperature for 24 – 48 hours. As it cultures at room temperature, the beneficial strains of bacteria and benign natural yeasts will proliferate, metabolize the milk’s lactose and create a sour, thick beverage replete with vitamins, probiotics, kefiran and other nourishing components. The longer milk kefir cultures the more sour and folate-rich it becomes, but take care not to culture it too long lest it become unpalatable."
How to Make Kefir:
Please email us at email@example.com if you would like to get starter Kefir grain from us to start your own, or you can purchase at any Vitamin Cottage location.
Place 1 Tablespoon kefir grains in the bottom of a clean mason jar. Cover with 1 quart fresh milk.
Very loosely, place the lid and band on the mason jar. You do not want to tighten it because, as with all fermentation, carbon dioxide is created and needs to escape. Culture for 24 – 48 hours at room temperature. For a for a thin, mild kefir you can culture for 12 hours.
Once culturing is complete, strain milk kefir into a new mason jar, cap and refrigerate. Begin reculturing a new batch of kefir, if desired or allow your kefir grains to rest in water in the refrigerator for a few days until you’re ready to make kefir again.
Fall Farm Update
New Life on the Farm
Yoghurt and Kefir
Raw Milk Fast Facts Part One
The Farmer's Wife
|Raw Milk Fast Facts: Part One
This winter, we will be delving into the nutrition of raw milk: what makes it so good for you. As this is a lengthy topic, we are going to spread it out over several months. We'll start by looking at raw milk as a living food, and the presence of good bacteria. In later editions we will explore the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme components of the milk, so stay tuned!
Living Food: Raw milk is a living food-- a nutritious, vitamin and mineral rich, whole and complete food. "When milk is heated in pasturization or ultra-high-temperature pasturization, many of these health promoting components of natural, raw milk are destroyed by heating and therefore not present in pasteurized or UHT milk." (Nourished Kitchen). Pasturization changes the milk, leaves it void of its most beneficial parts! The critical vitamins and minerals are then added back in the form of chemical substitutes, which are received differently by our bodies than nature's original version. By drinking your milk raw, you are getting all the nourishment of a real, living food---without chemical substitutions.
Bacteria: "As a living food, raw milk is rich in beneficial bacteria. These bacteria are critical to your health; indeed, beneficial bacteria are so critical to human health that you cannot live without them. These bacteria are responsible for stimulating and training your immune system to function correctly. They also work in conjunction with your immune system to keep pathogenic bacteria at bay. Indeed, they can be effective in the prevention and treatment of e. coli, rotavirus and salmonella infections. By consuming foods rich in beneficial bacteria – like raw dairy products and naturally fermented foods – you can help to optimize the levels of beneficial bacteria present in your gut. These bacterial allies are destroyed by pasteurization and are absent in pasteurized and UHT milk." (Nourished Kitchen) This brings us to a definition:
How is this relevant? It means that the good bacteria present in the milk can actually destroy or limit the number of bad bacteria in the gut. By drinking your milk raw, you are getting a regular, healthy dose of the good bacteria which will help your body fight off the bad bacteria simply because they cannot coexist together in your body. Pasturization destroys all bacteria, leaving the milk void of the good stuff (as well as the bad stuff). On an interesting side note, it appears that raw milk from cows fed "diets heavy in grains, soybeans, and cottonseed meal, etc., does not contain enough of the good bacteria to effectively protect itself from pathogenic infection. Everyone agrees, it must be pasteurized." (Raw milk facts) Thank goodness for the great grasses growing at Larga Vista Ranch and the healthy cows and milk that result!
Competitive Exclusion, or Gause's Law: Two species that compete for the exact same resources cannot stably coexist.
Milk of all kinds, raw or pasturized, can be contaminated, but careful production and handling of the milk, the cows it comes from, and the environment of the cows (milking barn, patures, enclosures, etc) ensure that the raw milk is safe and nutritionally superior to any pasturized option.
Your local raw milk dairy in action! Doran loves to help.
The Farmer's Wife by Kim Wiley
I didn’t grow up on a farm nor did I ever imagine I would end up on one. But that is where
I found myself in my early 30’s after meeting and marrying Doug. While hesitant to commit
myself to a lifestyle I knew was extremely challenging, I knew that helping to sustain an
organic farm would be very meaningful work.
In the early part of our marriage, Doug and I worked alongside each other doing most of
the work ourselves. I learned how to milk cows, feed our pastured pigs and cows, herd
cows, irrigate and plant the garden. Just 4 months after we were married, our eldest son,
Kilian,was conceived. While we wanted to have kids, this was a little earlier than we had
planned, but we felt blessed regardless.
I continued on with most of my farm duties until I was close to my due date and was put
on light duty. I had no idea what was in store for me, as is true with many new mothers,
and how my life would change so much. Kilian arrived in August of 2006, a beautiful and
healthy boy. With his arrival, I was suddenly unable to do much of anything in terms of
farm work. I was still helping Doug milk, but my dreams of planting and running our organic
garden were promptly put on hold. Over the next months, I struggled with my new duty
as a mom, learning how to take care of Kilian and how to put aside my own needs due
to the demands of a newborn. I was consumed with the adjustment to a new climate, my
new rural life (i.e. isolation), and the ups and downs of running a farm. My love and support
of Doug and my parents, who bought a farm down the road the same year we were married,
is what got me through those first 2 really hard years.
By the time Doran arrived in 2010, our business had grown tremendously. While I have
been at farm headquarters (the yurt) for much of the last year and a half, due to pregnancy
and having a baby, I have continued to help with milking 3 days a week, chickens, grazing,
and attending both farmers markets. I have also taken on the accounting behemoth, which
is boring and isolating, yet crucial to keeping you all eating the good stuff.
I have noticed over the last 6 years that entrenched ideas and sexism that still linger about
farm life, i.e. that it is the man who is the farmer. Seems that no matter how a wife might
participate, she is still clearly NOT the farmer. She isn’t the one that is idealized, she isn’t
the symbol of strength on the tractor, planting and cultivating sustenance. (Unless there
is no husband.) What is she then? More than likely, a traditional domestic scene comes
to mind of an apron-clad farm wife cooking, washing, taking care of children, tending to
financial aspects of the farm. While I have struggled with NOT wanting to be only that, I
am more or less right there. I find that in the pop-culture, modern perception, this is a role
not admired very much. I am not in the field as much as Doug, I am not driving the tractor,
therefore I am somehow contributing less than others to the farm. I tend to feel invisible,
especially when people continue to refer to our farm as “Doug’s farm”. What many don’t
think about is the “behind the scenes” on a farm, especially the financial aspect. It isn’t
glamorous or fun or very interesting, but keeping good books and managing the finances is
the only way to keep a farm viable. I call it the art of tricky farm finance; the art of keeping it
And one day, I realized something. I have a job that nobody else can be employed to
do on this farm. I, the farmer’s wife, have brought into this world the fifth generation on
the Larga Vista. I am cultivating and caring for these little boys, who are the only 5th
generation farm children on our road, who will hopefully run this farm and raise the 6th
generation. Someday too soon, my boys will be going off with their dad to work and I,
again, will have more freedom to do more on the farm as I wish to do. I can only hope to be
present enough to enjoy the time when they were little so that I can enjoy being back “out
there” without regret. Hopefully, I will have helped transform the perception of the
farmer’s wife from that of a weak domestic “nobody” to one of partnership and strength.
I am the farmer’s wife and I do drive a tractor!
Thank you for your continued support of Larga Vista Ranch!
Kim and Doug Wiley and sons