Modern Farm Wife: Updates from the polar vortex

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Pssssssssht. Breaker, breaker. This is MFW coming to you live from a snowdrift. I’m going to start with this photo. Because it soothes me. I want to go to there. This lovely shot is from our honeymoon in Mexico a million years ago. It’s good to remember that there are places in the world free of this year’s #polarvortex. Sigh. Unfortunately Michigan is still firmly planted in winter. Despite wildly odd weather last week—thunder snow, 40 degrees, and pouring rain—temps are back in the low teens this week. My psyche just can’t take it. I’m tired of wearing three layers at all... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 12 cows a-carolin’

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On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: 12 cows a-carolin’. We all know that cows can’t sing. Well. They can sing, but their melodious mooing is rarely in tune. Regardless, in the interest of sending you off into the holiday weekend with visions of sugarplum dairies (see what I did there?) dancing in your head, I thought I would let our bovine ladies wrap up the twelve days of Christmas. Thus, a herd of cows, steers, and even a calf or two are here to sing the twelve verses of my little dairy ditty. May you all... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 11 (thousand) sliced tires

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On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: 11 (thousand) sliced tires. Ten mooing neighbors Nine essential nutrients Eight loads of sand Seven bales of hay Six stripping shanks Fiiiiive commodity baaaays Four milking shells Three shifts of milking Two orange tractors And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree When we chop corn each year for cow food, DM has two options for storage: ag-bags or silage packs. Ag-bags are easier to seal and maintain; packs are more space efficient. We utilize both methods of storage, but I’m partial to the pack. Maybe it’s because Dairy Man won’t let me climb on the ag-bags. I’m all about storage methods... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 10 mooing neighbors

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On the tenth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: 10 mooing neighbors. Nine essential nutrients Eight loads of sand Seven bales of hay Six stripping shanks Fiiiiiiive commodity baaaays Four milking shells Three shifts of milking Two orange tractors And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree Above you’ll see Jersey, chatting it up with ten of our mooing neighbors. I’ve talked before about taking walks with my pup to fill the time spent without the Dairy Man. During the spring, summer, and fall, Jersey the dog and I take a LOT of walks. It’s a wonderful time to get my bearings, to breathe, to appreciate this boondockish place... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 9 Essential Nutrients

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On the ninth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: nine essential nutrients. Eight loads of sand Seven bales of hay Six stripping shanks Fiiiiiive commodity baaaays Four milking shells Three shifts of milking Two orange tractors And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree Did you know that the milky goodness our ladies produce every day (“white gold” as DM calls it) is not only delicious and nutritious but contains NINE essential nutrients? That’s more than I can say about other imitation versions of milk you see above. #Snark. But seriously, everything we do here on the farm, from manure management to keeping the... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 8 loads of sand

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On the eighth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: eight loads of sand. Seven bales of hay Six stripping shanks Fiiiiiiive commodity baaaays Four milking shells Three shifts of milking Two orange tractors And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree Every week our dairy gets eights truckloads of sand. For what purpose, you may ask? Do we have a giant cow sandbox in the back for playdates and sandcastles? Do we make sandy cow crafts involving Elmer’s glue and construction paper? Do we throw weekly cow luaus complete with beach volleyball and fruity drinks? No. All sand on our dairy goes straight to... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 7 bales of hay

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On the seventh day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: seven bales of hay. Six stripping shanks Fiiiiiiive commodity baaaaays Four milking shells Three shifts of milking Two orange tractors And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree Ok, ok, there might be more than seven bales in this picture. But you get the idea. Let’s say the Dairy Man gave me seven. Hay/grass/alfalfa silage is one of the key ingredients in our cow food ration. Depending on heat and rainfall, the Dairy Man and his father cut hay 3-5 times per summer (approximately every 30 days). The cutting process has five steps: 1. Cut hay 2. Wait for hay to dry 3.... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 6 stripping shanks

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On the sixth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: Six stripping shanks. 5: Fiiiiiiiive commodity baaaays 4: Four milking shells 3: Three shifts of milking 2: Two orange tractors 1: And a twinkly-light laden faux tree Something about the word “shank” makes me feel cool and dangerous. Like a stocky gangbuster out in the prison yard. Or a villain in a James Bond movie. But though this apparatus looks like it could be a torture device from a Bond flick, it serves a more wholesome purpose on our dairy: to help prepare the soil for planting corn. After all,... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 5 commodity bays

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On the fifth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: Fiiiiiive commodity baaaaaays 4: Four milking shells 3: Three shifts of milking 2: Two orange tractors 1: And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree As we learned in this post, feeding our illustrious herd is a little more complicated than putting out a bowl of Frosted Flakes and a milkshake in the morning. Eating a balanced diet is key. Each day our ladies chomp on a delicious concoction called Total Mix Ration (TMR). In addition to corn and hay silage, TMR contains five other components. These five fixins’ are stored in five bays... View Blog Post »

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Blog: 4 milking shells

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On the fourth day of Christmas, the Dairy Man gave to me: four milking shells. 3: Three shifts of milking 2: Two orange tractors 1: And a twinkly-light-laden faux tree The Dairy Man and I struggled to find a way to phrase this one. I wanted to call them “the four thingys that suck the milk of out the cow,” but DM didn’t appreciate my lack of technical phraseology. So, when I say “four milking shells,” I’m talking about the four “arms” of the milking cluster/claw that go to the four teats of a cow. Got that? Warning, if... View Blog Post »

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Jessica Folkema
Jessica Folkema | Hi, my name is Jessica. I traded stilettos for rubber boots to marry a ruggedly handsome Dairy Man. Now, I am slowly learning what it means to be a modern farm wife. The nearest Starbucks is 45 minutes away, but I wouldn't trade this life for anything! So, come along. But mind your step. Yes, that is a cow pie.


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