Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year End Review: Farm

After I highlighted my efforts in agvocacy in 2014 I thought it would be fun to take a look at what happened on our farm this year!
The biggest change for 2014 was the number of cows in our herd. For the second time ever and in the last two years we opened our closed herd to bring in animals from two Oregon herds that were selling their Guernseys. We used to say the future was near that we might be the only large number Guernsey herd in Oregon, sadly that day arrived. So with mixed emotions we welcomed 16 head from the Bosch family, Kilchona Farm in Tillamook, at the beginning of April. We have never brought that many animals into the herd at once, but the transition went smoothly and the timing could not have been better being out on pasture. Then in November the opportunity to bring 8 cows from the Wil-Rene herd, of the Jansen family from Forest Grove, presented itself. The timing was opposite, but we couldn't say no to these great genetics and again the transition went smoothly. 
Bette & Baja two days after their arrived!
 This brings our milking cows number to consistently over 90 cows and at max for our facility. We wouldn't push our facility if we weren't already planning an expansion into a new robotic facility by 2016, with 120 milking cows. 2015 is going to bring a lot of change, crazy busyness and challenge, but we are so excited to meet this new venture and build the future of our farm!

So let's look at what these lovely Ladies achieved in 2014.
We shipped 1,402,447lbs of milk. That is 163,076 gallons!! 
Received a quality award from our coop for producing milk above the standard requirements for the 2013/2014 fiscal year. 
 We welcomed 80 new calves! 41 Bulls and 39 Heifers. And had a record breaking 5 sets of twins, two sets being born on the same day, which has never happened here before! One set of twin heifers, one set of twin bulls and three sets of heifer and bull.
Welcome to: Jazzelle, Jellato, Regina, Rowdy, RockyRoad, Jentle, Sprout, Babs & Bobbie, Raindrop, Diana, Super, Louisa, Blackcap, Chanelle, Blueheat, Bungalow, Jesstine, Brenna, Fancie, Jorja, Venita, Rainy, Snowdust, Moodini, Minuette, Bessy, Jessandra, Jazarah, Jacket, Spaz, Milan, Jellica, Roana and 5 more newborns awaiting names!
Twin heifers for Babette. Bobbi & Babs
Captured this sweet moment of Velma and her 12th calf!
 A few personal cow achievements. Kicked off the year with one of our favorite young cows Abiqua Acres Martini Jen classifying EX-90. We celebrated Abiqua Acres Goliath Velma's sweet 16th birthday. We also had a successful show season, taking strings to the Oregon State Fair and Northwest National Guernsey Show. We took grand champion with Abiqua Acres Challenge Spirit at Oregon and placed in the top half of all our classes at the Northwest.  Bittersweet this Fall as we lost our favorite show cow Abiqua Acres Aaron Meara, she has been greatly missed!
Grand Champion Challenge Spirit
It's been a good year for the dairy industry. Milk prices were at record highs and feed prices stayed reasonable, meaning we saw a tiny profit this year, which will hopefully hold us through the rough outlook for the year ahead. Just like always most days saw us with ups and downs on the dairy farm. This is the life we love and we wouldn't have it any other way than spending it with the lovely brown and white Ladies we love! So Thank You 2014 and bring it on 2015! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year End Review: Agvocacy

Wow! 2014 flew by faster than the speed of light for me! I feel like it's still December 29th, 2013 and I was looking at my second child's due date! Literally, where did the year go?!? I guess you throw two young boys into the daily grind of farm life and time is going to speed right by!
Here on the blog things were a little slow, I just didn't have time with my keyboard; only publishing 26 new posts!  But it was hard to compete when I ended 2013 on a huge  note when my post "Today I Cried Over a Cow" went viral and pulled in over 23,000 views to my blog in December. I was in no way expecting to maintain those numbers, and I thoroughly enjoyed my social media interaction in 2014.

After the birth of my second son I kicked my agvocating skills up a notch by attending the regional AgChat convention held in Portland. It was a great experience and my favorite part was meeting many of the faces behind some of my favorite blogs I follow. It really fueled my passion to hit this year hard. 

Last years end numbers completely blew my mind, to have my writing circulating to that many people was out of anything I ever expected to happen. So while 2014's numbers look slight in comparison, it still makes me proud to know that many people took the time to stop by my little space on the internet. And I fully feel I lived up to new year's resolution and my goal.
My top three posts written for 2014: 
And #3 was tied with
My personal favorite blog post this year was a project I worked on in coordination with Oregon Dairy Farmer's Association helping to promote the Northwest Farmer's Fighting Hunger campaign. With their increased efforts to promote the campaign they were able to double the donations from 2013. It was so fun to be involved in this project and I look forward to helping make a difference in continuing to promote it! 
While I didn't log much time on this space here, due in large part to horribly slow internet connections. I was able to mobilely update our farm Facebook page Abiqua Acres more regularly. Sharing pictures and posting on a more regular basis saw the audience there double without much effort on my part. I think I am most excited about these interactions because I am literally reaching thousands of people every week! I think most people are already on Facebook, so creating and sharing information there is a great way to reach an audience that might not otherwise take the time to visit the blog here.
With the positive interactions occurring on Facebook I decided to launch my new name there first, I briefly mentioned it here, and am looking forward to finally transitioning my blog to that in the new year. Guernsey Dairy Mama has taken off and flourished on Facebook without my pushing it at all. Launched the beginning of September and I already have 549 followers, my goal was to end the year at 500! Now granted those might seem like tiny numbers, but any number that I can agvocate to makes me happy! 
I am also super excited about the other projects that my social media interactions included. Most notably joining the team of Ask the Farmers. I am so excited to see this group reach a large crowd and the positive direction and conversations that are already happening in this 6,000 strong following

While I saw the most reward for my effort on Facebook I also enjoyed branching out to instagram this year. I transitioned my account there to Guernsey Dairy Mama and have really enjoyed sharing pictures I snap while working with my ipod touch. Mobile, easy and a picture is worth a thousand words; it is a quick and easy platform to be involved with. Not to mention their editing tools are a lot of fun to play with on pictures!I've been enjoying sharing a picture of all our newborn calves.  
Here's my favorite from this year on my instagram account:

It really has been an outstanding year for me and my agvocating efforts. I love interacting through my writing and social media and sharing my dairy life. I haven't set an goals for 2015 yet, but I am already looking forward to all the new year may hold! 
Guernsey Dairy Mama 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas in the Country

Sent off a special package to someone! Looking forward to linking up for this fun event! How is your holiday season shaping up? Someone I've found myself really behind this season, I'll be playing catch up this weekend! Tonight I am off to enjoy a performance of the Nutcracker!! 
I hope you are finding some of the magic in this season!!! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

First Birthday Pirate Party

My second baby is fast approaching his first birthday, and with the holidays in between (I started this post before Thanksgiving!) I figured I had better get with it on getting some planning done! While I got started on that I realized I never did share all the details on my oldest boys first birthday. So without any more ado, I give you Mason's first birthday bash!

In another life I would love to be an event planner, so much fun! I enjoy getting to be crafty and am all about the details and with a first birthday I knew I could get away with it. We chose the pirate theme because ARRGH was the first thing we could get our grumpy and opinionated baby to say that he actually enjoyed. I thought it would be fun theme that reflected him for who he was! He looked great in red, so I knew the typical pirate colors, red, black, brown would work well. I there in aqua as an extra fun pop of color.

First up were the invitations. I had happened to find Gwen Marie Designs on Etsy for Mason's birth announcement. I loved how easy she was to work with and created exactly what I wanted, so I was excited to work with her again, and have since used her several more time. I had a design in mind that matched our colors and theme and she created exactly what I was wanting.

After scouring pinterest for some fun ideas I complied my own touches to make it truly reflect us and the little boy we were celebrating!

A Pirtae flag greets guests!

 I made triangle fabric banners in five different prints that fit the color scheme. For an added touch I strung them on baling twine, know there is plenty of that around here! Made enough to hand in several locations for fun pops of color. Also one of my favorite accessories I picked up from the dollar store was the nets. I used them to hang with tiny clothes pins favorite pictures of Mason's first year. It worked out really well as an easy way to fill space on the walls in several spots with photos!

No pirate party is complete without a parrot aboard your ship!


 Using "pirate language" I worded his birthday banner I be 1. Also added fun textures and dimensions with the scrapbook paper. My favorite part was the shell string I added and pops of color with aqua ribbon.

And the masterpiece, or honestly biggest pain of the party, pirate ship cake! I was honestly impressed with my freelance design and how it all came together, I definitely had my doubts on this one. I mushed it together with cuttings from two separate sheet cakes. I actually ended up having to use a third cause one fell apart on me, that was about the moment I was seriously disagreeing with my attempt to pull this off. But I'm glad I stuck it out,  not bad for somebody who is not an unusual cake maker! It looks like a ship, right? Finished off with blue ocean cupcakes, can't have a ship without the ocean!

Final decoration touches included pirate tattoos for fun and a treasure chest full of yummy and wearable booty! Our pirate party was all ready for the birthday boy who had a custom shirt waiting for him. Party Time!

Unfortunately our little guy woke up with a horrid fever the morning of the party. But he was a true pirate and pulled through to celebrate in style. We enjoyed an amazingly warm day in April and ended up moving our bbq outside! I had so much fun putting together all the details of his party, first birthdays truly are special!