A Farm Girl Visit

Sunday’s Workout Wanda: Lots of driving…and sitting…and driving…
Monday’s Workout Wanda: A 3 mile hike with my mom + 1.5 mile run + 1.5 hr horseback ride.
Tuesday’s Workout Wanda: Bike 12-ish miles at Waterton Canyon with my mom.
Wednesday’s Workout Wanda: A 4 mile hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Oh. My. Goodness. I have a ton to write about. Seriously, I have about eight blog posts half written…in my head – where even the craziest internet weirdos can’t read them – and I’m struggling to get all the words down. Yes, I will be writing about the Fargo Marathon {probably more than once} but I’m still digesting all of that. First, let’s talk about this one time I met up with a strangers, although it didn’t feel all that strange.

This past Friday I made a little detour into the Minnesotan country side en route to Fargo to visit a friend of mine. Well, technically I had never met her before but I was driving to her farm for a visit. Sounds rather awkward and crazy but it wasn’t, I promise.

You see, I may not have met Lisa before but I’ve known her for over a year. Lisa is a blogger chick…and a farm girl. What I hadn’t already learned from reading her stories or through email and Twitter I just made up…making her out to be a slightly cooler, more put together version of farm girl me. Turns out my made up versions of Lisa and the living breathing Lisa are pretty much the same girl, if you think I’m the bomb-diggity that is!

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…she might be shorter but she runs faster…

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous going in. What if Lisa hated me? What if she sick’ed Calvin on me? What if she had her husband, JR, try to run me over with a tractor? It felt kind of like what I would imagine a first date would be like for some randoms who met on match.com…and that analogy only makes it sound weirder. But I came prepared. I came with cookies! I can usually win people over with cookies…at least until the run out, so I brought plenty!

Now, I grew up on a farm. It was a family dairy farm where we milked cows, fed calves, planted corn, chopped and baled hay, had bunkers, cleaned calf hutches and chased after lots of barn cats and dogs. Driving down the gravel road on my way to Lisa’s felt like home. And as soon as I opened the car door it smelled like home! Yup, I’m the girl who thinks the smell of the country – otherwise known as cow manure – smells inviting!

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Lisa was an amazing tour guide of the family farm she works on – the farm is owned by JR’s parents and both JR and Lisa work on the farm full time. We had all sorts of questions that ranged from “where are the cats” {they didn’t have many and none were friendly} to “exactly how does composting work in a free stall” {check out her explanation in this post} and Lisa never batted an eye – she had answers and explanations for us. She knew her stuff!

I mean, the entire tour was an interview session but we did have a lot of questions. They had a similar operation to what I grew up on but had slight variations in how they did things from the composting free stall, different diet for the cows, a walk in parlor and a fancy temperature controlled sprinkler system so we asked a lot of questions!

Of course, in the world of farming the work never stops. When we arrived Lisa and JR were busy moving cattle around and when we walked into the free stall Lisa instantly spotted a dry cow {dry = pregnant and no longer milking, just waiting to give birth} about to give birth. This called for a bit of cow wrangling and had us hoping for a new born calf before we wore out our welcome! {spoiler alert…there was a new baby, it was a red heifer!}

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…a hired hand, JR and Lisa moving the laboring cow…

Along the little tour of the farm Lisa was always quick to point out memorable cows. First there was #2389 or Tiger who was a bit funny looking with her striped marking but quite the friendly cow. It took her away to get over my city stank but eventually she let me give her a good chin rub. We also got to see a pair of twins who – in a barn of hundreds – manage to stick together all the time. They really stick out when surrounded by the black and white Holsteins!

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Most importantly I got to meet Henrietta, or Etta, the blog calf! This calf’s life has been documented on the blog since she was born on September 20th of last year. Lisa has written about Etta’s movement from hutch to hutch and talked about her diet as it changed from milk to grain. It was like meeting a celebrity, the silly calf was even being standoff-ish when around me, she clearly liked Lisa better! Snobby celebrity calf!

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Then we came up on Calvin who had been hanging out in the house while they were moving cows around. He might have a blog celebrity too but he did not discriminate against the city cat smell I carried around. He was just happy for a little extra attention! Well, he was happy for attention after he went into attack dog mode… {just kidding, I was provoking him!}

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Our farm tour took us through the free stall, into the milking parlor, along calf pens and finally to the calf hutches. Oh, calf hutches… When I was a kid living on a dairy farm my time was evenly split between the milking parlor and the calf hutches. Mostly because I actually paid my brothers to do all the tractor driving for me but that is not the point! I spent a lot of my childhood and teenager-hood milking cows and feeding calves so I felt right at home in the city of hutches!

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…and I was a little bit excited to be around the calves that were genuinely happy to see you and willing to suck on anything that remotely resembled a bottle, fingers included! While we were out teasing the calves in the hutches a new born calf arrived to become the newest resident of the city of hutches!

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…first photo taken during our visit, second photo kidnapped from Lisa later in the day…

This little lady was born while we were visiting although we weren’t actually nearby for the birth. But then I’ve seen and assisted with enough calf births in my life that I wasn’t too bummed out about missing that – I got to skip out on the messy part and still got to see the new baby!

Before long it was time for my mom and I to get our butts back into the car and continue on our way to Fargo…we had a 5K to walk and were super pumped to walk about Fargo in to 97* temperatures that were gracing us!

I am so glad I got a chance to meet Lisa. The setting could not have been more perfect – we got to walk around a farm and talk about running Fargo {Lisa’s first full marathon!} and it was so easy to chat with Lisa, I was shocked to look at my watch and see how much time had passed! Even my mom got in on the chatter with lots of questions about how they did things around the farm.

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…me and my mom, reverting back to the days of farming…
{photo kidnapped from
Lisa’s post on our visit!}

I may have grown up on a farm and if I learned anything it was that everyone does everything a little bit differently. It was really interesting to see how they did things and I am seriously impressed with how Lisa and her family have chose to run their farm. The farm was run as a business, and a solid business at that.

I think a lot of people look at farming as a job for hired help or a lifestyle for farmers but in reality a farm is a business and it faces the same struggles, challenges, rewards and constant evolution of any small business. It is stressful, it is ever changing and it is a lot of freaking work…and in my limited experience as a farm girl I think Lisa and her family are doing awesome. Seriously, I was impressed and kind of wanted to go get some boots and dig in!

It was a great visit and if you ever have any questions about farming or what to learn more about how one farm in Central Minnesota does their thing go check out Lisa’s blogshe does an awesome job of explaining their farming methods and beliefs without making you feel stupid for asking! And its not all about farming – she is a runner chick contemplating her second marathon. Crazy runner chick…


Comments

A Farm Girl Visit — 11 Comments

  1. “I have about eight blog posts half written…in my head – where even the craziest internet weirdos can’t read them.” <— Story. Of. My. Life. Haha!

    P.S. Cute baby cows!
    Paula Mahla recently posted..DC chillingMy Profile

  2. That’s a big post! You are too kind with your words. :-) I’m so happy you guys did stop by. And I can’t wait to hear more about Fargo once you digest it.

    One note – the brown twin cows are real twins – from the same mom. We must have mis-spoke on that one!

  3. Pingback: The spring tradition | Cow Spots and Tales

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