Cheese Lovers Newsletter (11.15.2020): Good Food Finalist!

Cheese Lovers Newsletter (11.15.2020): Good Food Finalist!

Good morning Cheese Lovers!

Good Food Award Finalists!
We previewed it last week, but wow-wow-wow. We are in the running for the 2021 Good Food awards, being named Finalists this week for North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster! We received the judging sheets back, and let's just say there was not much left to desire according to their accolades, so fingers crossed that we can pull out a win.

About 30 cheeses from around the country were named Good Food Finalists. Last year, 16 were named winners. Normally, this is bestowed at a big ado in San Francisco. With the pandemic, a virtual unveiling will be held on Friday, January 22.

We're writing about these because, well, they're a big deal to us! While it may not sound that impressive because about one-fourth of all entries become winners, first there is the selection-before-the-selection. Many companies are weeded out before even trying to enter as they don't have enough accolades and standards to meet the rigorous Good Foods criteria. Then, there are the entries themselves.

We sent one, yes just one, of our many cheeses because the North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster tasted so good during our entry times. All the other cheesemakers did the same process (it costs money and shipping to enter the contest) so to be in the top 344 of 2,000 entries is likely from a lot more thought and decisiveness from tens of thousands of products. If we make it into the top 150 or so and are declared a winner, it will be even more sweet.

No Upper Midwest cheesemakers won last year, but our friends at Alemar Cheese Company won with their Bent River Camembert in 2015 (you can get that in our store!) and again were finalists in 2018. Otherwise we've had a Minnesota Cheese drought. We will see if we can organize a watch party or something as the pandemic heats up we'll likely all need a break for fun in late January. Stay safe, wash your hands, and enjoy cheese! To get tickets to the event, which for $80 includes two email address regsitrations and a Celebration box that ships in January, check that out here -

Walk for Hunger with Second Harvest Heartland
We are passionate about feeding people. While our business focuses on making cheese, we donate time, money and promotional efforts to our local foodshelf - the Western Stearns County/Sauk Centre Connection Food Self, and regional coordinator in Second Harvest Heartland. This year, Alise formed a team for Second Harvest Heartland's Walk to End Hunger. Their goal is to raise $28,000 with the walk - which can be done whenever and wherever you wish this year - to provide 84,000 meals. Nine Twin Cities organizations are hoping to collectively raise $300,000, and they're at about 38% of their goal already!

Generally speaking, money is always the best donation to food shelves because they can buy at discounted rates, but they appreciate the support whether through time, financial or food donations - and this holiday season might be the greatest need ever. Our friends and family have already raised $128 of our $500 goal, and if you feel so inclined ask you to join us here: Team Redhead Fundraising for Walk to End Hunger.

Some employers will match your donations, as Land O'Lakes already has for one of our participants, so keep that in mind as well! It is $25 to join the team but you can give whatever you wish.

Things to do and enjoy -
On the cheese front, we've got several opportunities, including virtual, ahead:
General store shop:
-Remember orders for delivery to the Twin Cities route on Wednesday must be made by 11:59 p.m. Monday
-Order or schedule your platter now as time for us to make and deliver is filling up

For locals - Alise's virtual cheese class next Saturday:
In collaboration with the 510 Art Lab, we were supposed to have a class last Friday, but due to new COVID restrictions we postponed. We will now arrange for cheese pickup this Friday, November 20, at the 510 Art Lab in Sauk Centre, along with the class Saturday, November 21, at 10:00 a.m. but can fit more people!
Facebook description:
Sign up at Sauk Centre Community Education: Select Cooking and you'll see the class. $30 or $40 per person depending if you need a board/platter.

Question of the week: What happens to your calves? – PART II
It is part two of last week's question.
After we get calves into to a warm, dry hutch (with straw this time of year, pea rock in the summer), we're entering the most dangerous part of life for our animals. July and August are the most sensitive times, as high humidity mixed with sudden temperature changes can mean sick calves no matter how well we or any farmer are aiming to care for them. About 99% of the time our care prevails, but unfortunately we cannot save every calf. Sometimes sickness is genetic - remember that cows are essentially prehistoric creatures that we've nurtured to continue into the human era. Other times it is our fault, but we have so much more to learn that it is typically the unknown unknown, and we need to be satisfied with giving the best care we possibly can.

At about 60-70 days of age we do a little experiment with our healthy, growing calves. We give them water and a grain mix of steam-flaked corn and soybean meal. If they're drinking the full bucket of water and eating the full bucket of grain for three days in a row, we know their stomachs are ready to transition to the next phase of life - group housing. We try to do one transition at a time and wait a few days.

They get colostrum from mom as we said last week right away, and then are learning to drink from a bottle for two to three days. Usually this is a smooth transition and bigger/stronger calves at birth usually have a faster one. Their tummies are likely more hungry, and need more nutrients, so they'll suck on anything that is near them. Smaller/weaker calves could have underlying immune conditions already, and not being as hungry they might not realize they need to eat.

We hope by day two they learn to drink from the nipple when we show up. The John Deere Gator's consistent engine purr helps them associate a sound with feeding time (just like Pavlov's dogs, if you know psychology), and they typically run out of the hutches to drink on their own after a few feedings.

With humans, we can assure they're getting enough nutrients with a tube feeder in a worst-case scenario by bypassing their mouth and ensuring nutrients get to their belly. But this also has risks even as the soft, plastic tube feeder could scratch their throat if care isn't taken. After about four or five days, however, 99% of calves have learned to drink on their own, making calf chores a lot faster.
Sanitation is the next most important part after getting the nutrients into the stomach. We pasteurize all the milk for our calves - and a lot of farmers will instead use milk replacer for consistency and eliminate the pasteurizer - to minimize disease risk. We try to feed at about 102°F so that it doesn't take any extra energy - in summer or winter - for the calves to adjust their body temperature to the milk entering their bodies. Cattle's normal temperature is about 101.5°F.
As we get to that 70-day mark, calves will transition to group housing as their stomachs show us they are ready (with water and grain being consumed as noted earlier), and then are still "calves" technically for several more months. We add baleage - a mixture of alfalfa and grass hay that is fermented - when they move to their first group housing pen, and then corn silage when they are about five to six months old.

Well, it's time for virtual church so that's enough for this Sunday. Got more questions? Let us know!

Linda, Jerry, Lucas and Alise

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