Cheese Lovers Newsletter (11.9.2020): What happens to your calves?

Cheese Lovers Newsletter (11.9.2020): What happens to your calves?

Good morning Cheese Lovers!

It’s a big week, huge week. And we aren’t even talking about the Presidential Election, Vikings and Gophers wins, or the upcoming Veterans Day – and we’ll say on the latter, Veterans Day is almost missed in much of the country; but when we lived in Vermont it is noticed and many businesses are closed in observation. Thank you to all those who’ve served, including our own family members.

No, we aren’t talking about all that – we’re talking the calm before the storm. We expect to run low on certain items so please order soon so we all stay happy!

Thanksgiving Cheese Box + Tasting Class by Forage to Fromage
We at Redhead Creamery, now more than ever, are reminded of things to be thankful for. We are lucky enough to bring this year’s Thanksgiving Cheese Box to you! This selection of unique and festive Minnesota cheese is an exciting addition to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner or a fun option for a smaller gathering. Check out our variety of spreads, crackers, and meats to spice up your own cheese platter! With our help, Thanksgiving this year will be Ridiculously Good. Only 40 available!

You can get our Thanksgiving Cheese Box delivered directly to your door by our cheese van or utilize Free UPS shipping in the upper Midwest. Shipping rates outside of the Midwest are additional. We will contact you directly with your rate.
This one comes with a tasting class by our friend Kerry of Forage to Fromage. Cheese class details: Kerry will be presenting and speaking on the cheeses included in this box, talking about the cheesemakers, as well as how to taste, enjoy, store and serve your cheeses. You can sign up for her Friday Introducing your Minnesota Cheese Box classes, or Saturday Building a Cheese and Charcuterie Board Cheese Box with Kerry.
Cheeses Included:
Wild Rice Gouda from Eichten’s Hidden Acres
Big Woods Blue from Shepherd’s Way Farms
Festive Fall Cheddar from Metz’s Hart-Land Creamery
St. Pete’s Select from Caves of Faribault
Sakatah from Alemar Cheese Company
Cinnamon Cranberry Chevre from Stickney Hill
Queso Fresco from Cannon Belles Cheese
St. Anthony from Redhead Creamery

The week ahead
This may be the last week of three-days-a-week cheese makes for 2020 (our caves our getting full), but it is also the annual announcement of the Good Food Awards.

We’ve entered the Good Food Awards for several years, or should we say, we tried to enter. But actually, a couple years ago we went through a laborious process or explaining our methods and standards. By judging time, they couldn’t determine whether or not we were good enough because we didn’t have the normal labels that many of our competitors hold. Labels that work for them, but for our land, water, management and labor, we don’t necessarily believe are any better nor worse for the land, air, water or people. We are here for more of a holistic type approach where you take your land, animals and people and try to do the best you can with it every day. That means a lot of things for a lot of people, but for us it is a focus on using modern technology to get a little better each day.
But, I digress. We shall see, but we sent some REALLY good cheese their way, and we know for sure it was accepted into the competition. Once they are announced, later this week, it becomes a national celebration of food with an eye toward “tasty, authentic and responsible food” – you can learn more here:
So, you could say that we fight, for our right, to party.

At the farmstead
On the farm we have our storage shed in place and are a few pieces of equipment away from finishing our new walk-in cooler. We are building a new shed for our equipment and are a few pieces of roofing away from our nutrient composting facility being finalized. We were blessed with a return to summer to get a lot of stuff done... including till the land to amend soils for our apple trees. About 100 should arrive in 2021 and 1,000 more in 2022, as we begin growing apple trees specifically for the hard cider market. Do we have plans for an on-farm cidery? No. But we make frequent stops with our cheese curds or to grab a drink at our friends in St. Joseph at Milk + Honey Cider. Check them out!

Question of the week: What happens to your calves? – PART I
Aha, let us start at the beginning as that is typically a very good place to start. This will be part one as we don’t know if the question asker was talking about the first few hours or days of our calves’ life, so we will answer both!

Calves, of course, are the successful result of a pregnancy. The circle of life begins with ensuring we have a healthy heifer (female cattle which have not given birth) or cow (female cattle that have given birth), of an appropriate size (49” tall according to ensure they are 53” to 54” tall according to University research
Then, and only then, will we breed an animal. If you want more particulars on the breeding process – you’ll have to ask! At the time of delivery, a few things can happen:

In an ideal situation, we don’t even notice the heifer/cow is in labor and a calf shows up. The cow (they would all be cows at this point) licks off her young and then lays down in clean, dry straw waiting for us to take her in to get milked.

We notice a cow laboring but having trouble and need to provide mild assistance. This probably happens about 10 percent of the time. This could be as little as putting on a long-sleeved glove and adjusting so the head and front feet are in the right position, or as much as flipping the entire calf around if it is coming out backward (butt-first). It often involves finding some clean twine string and pulling with no more than two people as to not hurt the animal in labor, and working with the animal to get the calf out. This is often very successful, but we never know how long labor has been ongoing so sometimes, unfortunately, the calf is no longer viable before we get there.

Things look odd, or the cow looks very distressed. This happens about 1% of the time. We would then call our veterinarians, Jenny or Tom, and depending on if they are at another emergency they can be here relatively fast and have more knowledge and tools than we would. With about 250 calves born here a year, this happens a few times a year.

After a calf is successfully delivered, we want to milk the cow as soon as possible. Colostrum (the first milk with all the antibodies) quality degrades with time, and of course that new calf wants to get fed as soon as possible. If we left the cow with the calf, we wouldn’t know if she got enough colostrum and, studies show, often they don’t. This is extra important in cattle vs. humans because do not have most of the antibodies (IgGs or immunoglobulins to be descriptive) within them when they are born. They receive them through the colostrum.

From there, if they’re warm and dry they head to a calf hutch – freshly bedded with straw in the winter or with pea rock to keep them cool and dry in the summer. If they’re healthy, they will get milk twice a day in the summer, or three times a day during winter (roughly, December-February), for the next two weeks. At that point, we divide the boys and the girls and that’s where we will pick up next week.

Lucas, Alise, Jerry and Linda

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