Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Life and cheese making

Today was a normal day off for me. I did a few loads of laundry and decided to go grocery shopping, as we had nothing to eat in the house besides hamburger. So while Will was home for coffee, he helped me dress the kids and pile them into the car and we were off. Daisy was good per the usual and Delmar was well, Delmar. He can’t sit still for more than 30 seconds. He makes the trip longer than it should be, but that is the joy of boys. 
Once we got home and had lunch, I decided since it was so hot outside, it would be a great day to make cheese. Will brought me four gallons of milk from the tank. I have been making random batches of fresh cheese here and there, but I really want to get started making cheddar. Since I didn’t have the right culture, I decided to make squeaky cheese curds. You know, the kind that make the squeaky clean squeak on your teeth when you bite into the creamy goodness. 
Luckily Delmar took a nice long nap and I was able to get the hard parts done while he slept, and Daisy was running around outside and coming in for snacks. Making cheese is a patient process with a lot of stirring and waiting. In the midst of adding culture and rennet, I was dreaming up flavors of curds that I could make. All of a sudden it hit me, beer soaked curds! I called Will up and very nicely asked for him to run to our new family brewery, Stone Cow Brewery, and get me a growler of the Cows Out Milk Stout. It would be the best pairing with cheese! And I can tell you, I wasn’t wrong. These curds are some of the best I have ever had. 

Milk coming up to temperature before adding the culture. 
It was a hot day.
And of course this cutie who was behaving so well. 

Curds and whey
Finished curds after pressing, cheddaring, and milling
Mmmm Cows Out Milk Stout

Curds soaking in the stout

Baking, cooking, and cheesemaking take me to my happy place. I love being able to use our own milk to make products for my family to enjoy. Dairy plays a huge roll in our family and I use it any way that I possibly can, whether it be a glass of milk at a meal, cheese for a snack, or ice cream for breakfast. Part of being a mom is being able to make the rules, and although I try to make every meal balanced, but sometimes its fun to have ice cream for breakfast or dinner! Stay tuned for my next blog post on raw milk! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Catching up

Every day I say to myself I need to write another blog post, or finish one of the ones I have started. Well today is the day I sit down and write one. With a little inspiration from The Farmer's Wife, I am taking the time. There is never a quiet day on the farm. Winter is technically the "quiet" time on the farm when all of the field work winds down, the cows are moved to their winter pasture, and most of the projects are on hold until spring.

In the winter we harvest and process firewood both for sale and for home. We heat the milking parlor and hot water off of an outdoor wood boiler that farmer Will made out of an old oil tank. He is very crafty when it comes to fabricating. There is also an outdoor wood boiler at our farm store. We all have wood stoves in our houses. To me there is no better feeling than cuddling on the couch on a cold night, watching the fire with a nice warm cup of hot cocoa. That is, until the phone rings and its the neighbor, and the cows are on their front lawn. Wills up and out the door and his cocoa gets cold, typical night at the Stevens'.

We are putting finishing touches on the new milking facility and tying up loose ends. Then it's time to focus on the old facility and turning old buildings into new ones. Our heifer barn is in desperate need of repair. When hurricane Sandy came through it ripped part of the steel roof off. We have used rafters left over from building the new barn, so we will be using them to replace the ones on the heifer barn.

On top of all of the farm work and projects going on, we are trying to build a house. Luckily we were able to get the site prepped so we can start building in the spring. We have the preliminary plans and will hopefully soon have them finalized!

As if we aren't busy enough, we held a meeting at the farm on Friday. Congressman Jim McGovern came to the farm to discuss the new farm bill with local farmers and politicians. He openly admitted that he had no idea about agriculture, but that is why he came, to learn and hear what we had to say. He listened and remarked to everything we had to say. Farmer Molly made a great beef and kale soup and bread. Everyone was blown away. Then we did barn tours and everyone in the fancy shoes and suits walked into the barn. As most of you know there is no possible way to get all of the manure out of the barn. It had been scraped but there is still manure in the grooves of the concrete. It was kind of comical seeing them standing in the manure next to the pit, looking at the cows, and talking on their phones. All kidding aside though, I am very glad that there are people in this world willing to help the working man.

Oh, how could I forget this! We got married on October 12th! I am now Shayna Stevens! The wedding was perfect. Exactly what I had dreamed, minus the freezing cold rain. Unfortunately thats what you get for getting married in October. I wouldn't have traded it for the world! I got to marry my best friend and have the party of a lifetime! But that story is for a different day!
Photo by Amy Mae Photography

From now on I promise to post on a more regular schedule. Thanks for listening to me ramble! Until next time!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Baking, Planning, and Fun

It has been a little while since my last post. We have been super busy fixing tractors, working the ground, mowing hay and chopping it. I have been doing a little bit of everything, including grooming some dogs on the side. I love all types of animals, so the grooming helps give me a bit of diversity in what I do as well as some extra income on the side. Here is a re-cap of what I've been up to in pictures.
My favorite office! Case 7220

Daisy harrowing with mommy. 

Will planting cow corn. 

Feeding babies!

Getting ready to milk in our double 10 parallel parlor. 

Someone had a birthday!!!!

Families that farm together stay together! Chopping grass. 

Making mozzarella!

A few loaves of white bread.

Making wedding beer!

Putting up our new hay barn. 

Daisy and mommy milking. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Beginning

Welcome to my blog! Please bear with me, as this is my first time attempting a blog!

First things first, I'm Shayna! I am a stay/work at home mom! I have a beautiful daughter, Daisy, who will be 11 months old on the 9th. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me, besides my boyfriend Will, without him, Daisy wouldn't be here. We live on Wills family's dairy farm, Carter and Stevens Farm
The Beginning
Will and I have been together for almost three years, but we met and dated in high school. In October of 2010, my clutch decided to go in my 1999 Chevy cavalier coupe (the black blur, if you've ever seen me drive you'd understand why thats what its nick name was). I was at a party hanging out and Will happened to be there as well. We started talking and I told him about my car and he right away offered to fix it. The next day he called me and we set it up that he would fix it while I was at school. We talked every day after that. One day I called him and he said that he had something to show me at the "lower farm," and when I come home from school he will take me down. I came home that weekend and we hung out at the shop while he fixed my car. Sunday rolled around and he still hadn't shown me what was at "lower farm." I said to him, "I thought you were going to show me something at the lower farm." So, he took me down there on the ranger and brought me to a section of fence. We walked along it until we came to a tree. Carved in the tree was "WS + SC '06" with a heart around it. My heart just about melted. He was fixing fence when we were first together in high school and carved that into the tree. It was so unlike him, he's the crazy, manly man type. He asked me if we could add a "'10" to the tree. I said sure! We have been inseparable ever since!
I graduated from college in May of 2011 with an associates degree in animal science. I was hired on his family's farm doing jobs like harrowing the fields, mowing hay, tetting the hay, throwing hay bales in the barn, and being assistant herd manager with his sister Molly. I also worked at the farm store once in a while on grill nights and doing odd jobs.
As summer was winding down, I was working at the store making sandwiches, feeding calves, and milking with Will on Tuesdays. For some reason this work was making me exhausted! I felt like I needed a nap by 11 AM. This wasn't normal for me. We were replacing the roof on our house and I didn't feel that good. The next morning we got up to milk and I still didn't feel that great. Then I realized, I was LATE! That night I made a special trip to Wal Mart and picked up a pregnancy test. We both came home after work and Will started to make supper, soup from a can. I went straight to the bathroom did what I had to do and came out. It was the longest three minutes of my life. You know the song Waiting on Two Pink Lines by Eric Church? Well this was the exact same thing, except... You guessed it, there were two pink lines! I was pregnant. I was terrified. I felt like I was 13 and pregnant. Will was so excited you wouldn't have been able to wipe the smile off his face if you tried!
I told my sister right away! She was excited and very supportive. Will told one of his best friends, Trevor. He was shocked to say the least. I can still picture the look on his face. We told my parents first. I gave my mom a birthday card that said "Happy birthday Grandma!" I added "and Grandpa" for a more dramatic effect. She was very confused at first, but then she realized and started crying. Once they processed it for a minute they were very excited for us. They could tell we were happy. Then we went to Will's parents. I wore a t-shirt that said "Future Farmer" with an arrow pointing to my belly. Molly had this shirt from when she was pregnant with Maple. When I walked in to the house Will's mom, Erin(Abuela to the grandkids), said "hey you shouldn't be wearing that shirt!" and Will's dad, Phil(FunFun), said "really?!" We laughed and told them that it was true! Phil handed Will a beer and we celebrated!
Months went on and I had many doctors appointments. I had an ultrasound to find out the sex and sure enough, it was a girl! Daisy was the first name I had thought of and Will loved it too! Her middle name is Rose after my great grandmother Elizabeth Rose, Nana to all that know her. Finally, May had come around and my due date had come and gone, and I was getting so anxious! I HAD to meet my baby girl! She was three days late. After 17 hours of labor and 30 mins of pushing, I finally had my beautiful baby girl in my arms! She was the most perfect little baby I had ever met in my life! She looked just like her daddy. She will definitely be daddy's little girl her whole life.
Daisy was the most perfect baby anyone could ask for. She slept through the night from day one. She would only cry when she was hungry. If she cried during her "witching hour" Will would take her outside and she would stop. She loves to be outside. We couldn't be happier!
The Now
Daisy and I spend our days playing, baking, cleaning the house, going for walks, and helping daddy at the farm. Will is getting ready for the busy season of fixing all of the tractors, so they're ready to do work when the time comes. We love when he comes home, I get a break and she gets a change in scenery. She's got him wrapped around her little finger. She loves animals and she'll let you know it! We are currently planning an October wedding!

This blog is about our little family's life on the farm. I hope you enjoy all of our stories and recipes for great fun!