This year, online ordering & shipment has become commonplace for nearly everyone. You can order just about anything and have it delivered to your doorstep within a few days.
This week, a highly anticipated delivery arrived, but not in an Amazon box. You know you’re a farmer when the most exciting delivery in months arrives in a container like this:
This is a special shipping container charged with liquid nitrogen and used to ship frozen bull semen. It keeps the semen safely frozen at -320⁰ F. UPS drops it in our driveway, we transfer the semen to our liquid nitrogen storage tank, and then the shipper is returned & reused.
We’ve worked hard to reduce purchased inputs in our business, but semen is one of the necessities. Every cow needs to deliver a calf in order to start producing milk. Ideally, they have a calf once a year. And each of these pregnancies requires a semen source. We choose to not keep any bulls on the farm, mostly due to the safety risk, but also because we want to choose the best genetics available to improve our herd.
There are not a lot of other Brown Swiss herds, at least not compared to Holsteins or Jerseys (the two most popular breeds). By purchasing frozen semen, we can utilize bulls from the best herds in the US and Europe, from which we could not feasibly purchase a live bull.
So, about three times a year, this farmer spends a lot of time pouring over catalogs and selecting the best matches for our ladies, just like a fantasy football team. Yep, bulls have stats just like pro athletes. Some are all around all-stars, while others excel in certain traits that we might want to focus on improving.
Most of our semen is ordered from one Wisconsin-based distributer specializing in Brown Swiss, who has been shipping directly to our farm for years. If you’re curious, check them out at brownswiss.com!
This week’s delivery included bulls with names like Spark, Kade, Powerball, Juke & Kingsman. Within a year we will have their calves running around, and in about 3 years their daughters will be producing the milk in your cheese. One small delivery will have a longterm impact on our farm!
There really is no limit to what can be delivered to your door!
This week was Charlie’s birthday. Birthdays, when you farm, are like most every other anniversary, holiday or special occasion – not much different than any other day. He spent an enjoyable day (his words!) making a big dent in our manure spreading project.
Lyle & my mission was to make Dad his favorite treat – rhubarb pie. We also needed to load a semi-trailer with hay that we’d sold.
The truck appeared just as the pie was ready to go into the oven – perfect timing. You can load a tractor trailer with 44 round bales in less than 50 minutes, right?
Turns out you can, but when the phone alarm went off I didn’t rush inside. Our oven always seems to cook a bit slower than the recipe requires, so I figured a few extra minutes would be a safe bet.
Got the load strapped & headed out the driveway, then went in with Lyle to check the pie. Of course the oven picked today to work super efficiently & the pie was definitely overdone. Not totally ruined, but the crust edges were on the verge of black.
Charlie was a good sport & pronounced it “not that bad”. Lesson learned…pay attention to the alarm!
Pie crust is a big deal in both Charlie & my families…today I’m sharing my mom’s recipe. You can fill it with rhubarb if you have it in the freezer – or since we’re at the peak of apple season, go for Maple Apple!
If you ever want feedback on your pie, our household will gladly sample!
Sarah, Charlie, Lyle & Hannah
DONNA'S PIE CRUST
5 C flour
2 1/2 C shortening
1 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 egg, beaten plus enough ice water to total 3/4 C
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with pastry blender. Moisten with egg & water. Mixture will be sticky so use lots of flour to roll out dough. Makes approximately six 9" pieces. Roll out on plastic sheet or between 2 pieces of waxed paper.
MAPLE APPLE PIE
~5 C apple slices
1/2 C sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 C Morning Glory Maple cheese
Pastry for double 9" pie crust
Bring cheese to room temperature. Line 9" pie pan with bottom crust. Combine dry ingredients & sprinkle 2 Tbsp over bottom of crust. Add rest of mixture to apples & cheese, stir. Turn into crust & cover with lattice top (cut top pastry into 1" strips and weave into lattice). Bake at 425 for 15 min, then reduce temp to 325 and bake 45 min longer or until nicely browned.
We are excited to be part of a new, rapidly evolving local food hub growing at Press Bay Alley in Ithaca! You can order directly from multiple farms and receive all your goods in one safe pickup. Please review the pickup procedures.
Pickups are on Thursday from 3-7PM! You can order any of our cheeses or meats for pickup at the hub. If you order through our online store, please choose the "pickup" option, then add a note at checkout telling us you want to pickup at Press Bay Alley. You can also send us an email with your order; we will invoice you electronically. All orders MUST be prepaid before pickup at the hub. Please note: missed pickups will be not be held; they will be donated on Friday morning.
Ground beef is a staple in our freezer, pulled out for quick & tasty family meals all year long. Here are 3 of our favorite recipes - give them a try when you're looking to change it up from the usual burgers or meatloaf! Our 100% grass-fed ground beef is lean but flavorful, making it an economical protein source boasting heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and CLA. We have plenty available - let us know if you'd like to place an order for your family's freezer!
SWEDISH MEATBALLS Servings: 4-6
3 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 C seasoned dry bread crumbs
½ c fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried parsley)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
GRAVY: 4 Tbsp flour
2 ½ C beef consommé or broth
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 C milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
12 oz medium egg noodles, cooked
¼ C butter
3Tbsp fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley (or1/2 Tbsp dried parsley)
BEEF & POTATO MOUSSAKA Servings: 6-8
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¾ C water
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
1 tsp salt
½ tsp dried mint (optional)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp pepper
¼ C butter
¼ C flour
2 C milk
4 eggs, beaten
½ C Parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp salt
5 medium potatoes, peeled & sliced
GROUND BEEF & CAULIFLOWER HASH Servings: 4
2 ½ + C frozen cauliflower (defrosted & drained) OR fresh cauliflower OR summer squash, chopped
½ C bell pepper, chopped
¼ C onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef or sausage
2 C shredded cheese (Goblin, sharp cheddar, mozzarella – or a mixture)
¾ tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Our cows get the credit for our great tasting cheese, so it seemed only appropriate that they be honored in its name. “Morning Glory” is named for one of our original Brown Swiss herd members, officially named Eldalechris Even M Glory, but known as Glory for short. Sarah picked her out as a 4H project at a month old, in 1995, and she resided in Catskill until 2003 when she made the trip out to our new herd.
Glory never quite made it to stardom in the show ring. She was born in November, which made her one of the smaller animals in her class. Her conformation was not particularly beautiful, as she only classified 80 points. Although Brown Swiss are known for their excellent feet and legs, Glory was not blessed with the best set of wheels to get around on. In fact, she needed to see the hoof trimmer every time he came, just to keep her moving comfortably. Glory produced a good amount of milk, but she never broke any production records.
So what made Glory so special? She was a cow that never gave up! She kept going, and going, and going, despite the challenges that life threw at her. Adapting to 3 different farms, Glory was always the leader of the pack. She calved 9 times, with 6 of those calves being heifers that helped to grow our herd. Those daughters have added another 9 female offspring to our herd, with each generation improving on the last.
Our cheese label features Glory and her last heifer calf, Glorianna, a few minutes after her birth. It represents the optimism that each new beginning brings: a new day, a new calf, or cheese making being a new direction for our dairy. We draw upon her stamina and will to survive as we begin our new venture. We lost Glory at 13 ½ years old, but her legacy lives on in her cow family and also in “her” cheese. Bring her story home to your table today!
I'm half of the Crosswinds farmer duo bringing you farm fresh cheeses, beef, and pork from the heart of the Finger Lakes! Stay tuned for our daily adventures growing a family & a farm, and food for your table. We welcome your questions & comments, but please keep them respectful! For the latest updates, please follow Crosswinds Farm & Creamery on Facebook or Instagram!