The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The calendar says Nov. 20, but you wouldn’t know it by looking outside. Fortunately, the nice day is allowing us to prepare for the upcoming season of not-so-nice days.


The cows mostly like the winter. They are much more comfortable than during the summer, when the heat causes them stress and diminishes their milk production. You should see them kick up their heels in the barnyard when the first measurable snow arrives. Plus, they get those cute wooly winter coats.


This 4-month-old heifer is starting to grow a heavy winter coat.

But winter on the farm can be tough for us people. It takes a lot longer to trudge through snow and get the chores done. You’re always worried about water troughs freezing, equipment not starting, mountains of snow to plow and the electricity going out if there’s ice.

The days are shorter, so list of things to do is shorter. But first we have to get through our winter readiness list.

The first task is to complete the harvest. Before the snow flies, the corn silage flies.


Corn silage is collected in a chopper wagon and blown up into the silo for long-term storage.

Corn silage, along with hay silage, makes up the basis of what the heifers and milking cows eat. Due to the drought, corn silage was harvested pretty early this year (early to mid-September). We fill plastic ag bags and the silos with enough corn silage to last us until next year at harvest time.


This silo is about 100 feet tall. Sometimes farmers have to climb to the top to clear out feed that has plugged the chute.

Each cow eats about 90 pounds of food a day, so that’s a lot of feed to store. We also chop leftover cornstalks from the shelled corn harvest to use for cow bedding.

The next thing we do is empty the manure pit. We inject a million gallons of cow waste into our fields to serve as fertilizer. What goes around comes around! I’ll spare you pictures of that process. Suffice it to say, the farm smells pretty ripe during that time. Sorry, neighbors.

Next we put up plastic sheeting in the front and back of the calf huts to keep the babes warmer. The plastic is rolled down to serve as a windbreak in the winter and rolled up again in the spring so they can feel the breeze.

ImageThe same story happens in the greenhouses where the 2-month-old to 6-month-old calves live. The greenhouses absorb a lot of heat so it stays pretty toasty in there.


Once it gets a bit colder, the baby calves also get extra cornstalk bedding in their huts, and Blake puts a shot of cream in their bottles of whole milk for extra fat and warmth. The calves aren’t worried about that today. This one is enjoying basking in the sun.


And finally, a new project for this year. Blake and Michael are building a 100′ x 100′ pen to house some new animals that we’re going to have. Can you guess what we are getting? (Hint: It’s something we haven’t had before.) Leave your guesses below!


Michael and Blake are digging post holes for our new pen.

Written by Jordan Hansen




November 24 is Small Business Saturday

Yes, we all know about Black Friday, the annual “holiday” where we stand in crushing lines at big box stores to get incredible deals on gifts for our loved ones. And then there’s Cyber Monday, the day everyone does holiday shopping online.

But have you heard of Small Business Saturday? It’s a much more relaxed day to celebrate small businesses in our communities. You get to shop at and support local businesses and probably get some pretty sweet deals in the process.

The day was first celebrated in 2010 as a way to encourage holiday shopping in local, brick and mortar stores. As a local, brick and mortar retailer in Cedar Falls and Waterloo, we support Small Business Saturday and hope you will, too!

To say THANKS for shopping local that day, all customers are welcome to enter to win one of two $50 cheese baskets! One customer will be chosen from each of our two retail stores. Just add your name and contact info to the sign-up sheets on the counter. You don’t need to be present to win!

Here’s a link to the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.

NIFFP and Farm to School

This Friday Hansen’s hosted the annual Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership (NIFFP) meeting, and their Farm to School event. From 5 to 7 on Friday evening, local residents interested in the NIFFP and Farm to School could come for some good food, conversation, and information.

It was a really fun evening, and everyone learned something. The NIFFP folks shared information about what they’re up to.

Aaron and Neo, the local Food Corps volunteers, shared about their experiences working with kids in Waterloo. Rob and Tammy Faux, from Genuine Faux Farm in Tripoli, told us about their CSA and their farm. The folks from Cedar Falls Blue Zones were also there to get people signed up and share information about their work in the area.

The food was fantastic: Barbecue pork sliders from Pat McCready, yogurt parfaits with vanilla yogurt from Country View Dairy (yes, it’s available in our stores), and marinated veggie skewers with cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, kalamata olives, and Hansen’s cheese curds.

What’s it like to live on the Hansen Dairy farm?

Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy is a unique family business. In the early 2000s, all four sons of Jay and Jeanne Hansen decided to come back to the home farm and work together to build an on-farm creamery. There are now 19 people (11 kids) who live on or near the farm. So what’s it like to live and work so closely with each other?

First, a little about me. I’m married to Blake Hansen, the youngest son. We have a 3-year-old daughter, Reese, and 5-month-old son, Beckett.

Me (Jordan), Beckett, Reese and Blake Hansen

I grew up on a dairy farm near Decorah, so I’m used to the nature of this work. Not eating supper until 8 p.m., struggling to find vacation time, and dealing with fly spots on EVERYTHING is commonplace to me. But it was just my mom, dad, sister and me. No employees, no creamery, no marketing. The Hansen farm is a different animal, and here’s why.

There’s always something going on. There are 7 family members and 10 non-family employees who work on the farm. That means you can’t go 20 feet without finding someone riding a tractor, someone cleaning something, someone giving a tour, or a cow having a calf. Milking happens from 4 to 7 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. every single day. The creamery runs full-steam all day Monday, Wednesday and Friday with ice cream made on other days.

Brad (right) and other creamery employees package butter.

In between, there are tours happening, cows and calves being fed, and machinery, vehicles and equipment being fixed. Work can happen around the clock when calves are being born, the electricity goes out or cows escape their enclosures.

It’s a great place to raise kids. The 11 grandkids who live on or near the farm are so creative and energetic. They love the wide-open spaces to play. They’ve made a train of kiddie tractors, wagons and bikes tied together with twine.

Morgan, Brady, Maddie, Reese and Mollie Hansen travel around the farm by “train.”

They’ve created full-course “meals” out of objects found outside (leaves drizzled with muddy water for salad; hosta leaves rolled into manicotti; flower petals, rocks and twigs stirred into soup).

They swim and fish in the pond.

Blair cools off in the pond this summer with the family.

They’ve each made a “treehouse” using old blankets and towels. They’ve crafted owls out of black walnuts split in half, pinecones and feathers. They jump on three trampolines nestled in the ground, and play cops and robbers.

They also willingly help do all different kinds of chores, which teaches them the value of hard work.

Reese helps Daddy wash calf bottles at age 18 months.

Brady, Reese and Mollie feed calves.

Almost everything we need is right here. Grandma and Grandpa or aunts and uncles are always around to baby-sit. We get together for meals a lot because someone will generously cook for a crowd. We have most any tool or piece of equipment one might need to fix something. As soon as we finish the racquetball court in the dome, Grandpa and the four sons will have a place to play their favorite sport. And the best part? Having an on-site grocery store. Thank God for it! How do you people remember to buy milk? We go through a gallon a day at our house. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in the fridge to find the milk almost empty … or not enough butter to bake with … or no cheese for my casseroles … and I’ve cursed having to walk all the way outside to the cooler to get it! We also have enough meat to feed a small village (which, of course, is what we are).

There are always visitors. People are always dropping by to get their milk at the tour center or take a farm tour. A lot of business deliveries are being made.

The tour center is especially busy in the summer.

Also, four of the families live right on the farm. My house has the farm office so family members frequently drop by to take care of business. Privacy? Ha! Walking around naked in my own home is a risk I’m not willing to take. But at least I think most family members have figured out that afternoons are rest time at our house (for Mom and Dad too, not just our two kids!)

There’s a lot of love. Yes, we’re all in close proximity. Yes, personalities collide. Yes, the work is never done. But everyone takes time to stop and play a little bit. Above all we’re working as a team for our livelihood, and that of the next generation, too. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything!

Cows curiously watch Bridget pedal past.

Pop Quiz Winner

Y’all did great! This post got lots of attention, and we had some QUICK responses. I’ll have to make the next one tougher…

The winners are:

Julie Richmond

Cindy Johnson

Rebecca Decker

Merri Franzen

Debbie Dodds


Congratulations! We will send you an email with hoodie options…

Pop Quiz! {And…a giveaway!}

Good morning! Nothin’ like a pop quiz to start your Monday, right?

All of the answers to the questions below can be found on the Hansen’s Dairy website. The first five people to answer all questions correctly in the comments of the blog will receive a Hansen’s Dairy hooded sweatshirt (size and color of their choice, supply permitting). No age limit, so get the kids involved, too!

1.      About how many gallons of milk does the Hansen’s on-farm creamery process each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday?

2.      Moo Roo has seating for about how many people?

3.      How many generations of the family have grown up on the Hansen’s farm?

4.      For how many months are cows pregnant?

5.      About how many feet tall is an adult wallaby?

6.      What is the primary purpose of the wallaby’s tail?

7.      What should you do with Hansen’s milk before you serve it?

8.      What type of milk does Hansen’s sell the most of?

9.      About how many gallons of water will a milking cow drink in one day?

10.  About how many pounds of feed will a milking cow eat in one day?

Indy Market – So much fun!

This Saturday Eric and I packed up the Hansen’s Suburban and drove out Highway 20 to Independence. We were heading to the Independence Farmer’s Market. Our morning started early – the market starts at 8 am every Saturday and we needed to be there early to get a good spot. Eric set up shop to sell milk, cheese curds, and other products as a vendor in the market.

I, on the other hand, set up shop to do a cooking demonstration! It was a brand-new experience for me, and I was a little anxious, but I had the best time. Joe Olsen, the Market Master, brought his grill, supplies, and delicious tomatoes, basil, peppers, onions, and even a watermelon from his own garden and the Independence school garden. Then we loaded up on veggies, bread, herbs, and even maple syrup from some of the vendors at the market.

I got started right away and whipped up a watermelon and tomato salad while Joe started the coals. I wasn’t sure how the salad would go over with the Market visitors – but everyone loved it! The mix of sweet and tart flavors really went well together (we’ll get a pdf of the recipe up online real soon – stay tuned!).

We were given a couple of loaves of bread by a vendor – a sun-dried tomato ciabatta and a pepperoni pizza loaf. We sliced the bread and grilled the slices to toast them lightly. Then I put together a roasted red pepper bruschetta to serve on the toast. It was a hit!

We grilled zucchini and eggplant slices, too. Toward the end of the grilling we melted Hansen’s cheese curds on the slices – double yum! Also a hit – grilled apple slices and grilled winter squash slices drizzled with maple syrup right before serving.

Joe and I had fun being creative and experimenting with whatever we could get our hands on. I think what made the morning a success was that we weren’t afraid to burn things or try something new. Cooking with veggies really is just a matter of throwing things that you like together and seeing how it all turns out. We’ve put together a little inspiration for you as you think about grilling veggies. I’ll get a link up real soon for that guide.

Thanks Joe!

Written by Disa Cornish

Farm Jokes!

Good morning!

What better way to start the day than with some incredibly corny farm and cow jokes…

Do YOU know any good ones? Leave them in the comments!

What do you call a cow that’s just had a baby?


Why does a milking stool only have three legs?

The cow’s got the udder

What are the spots on black and white cows?


What is every cow’s favorite movie?

The sound of MOO-sic

What do you call a cow that can’t give milk?

A milk dud

A farmer was milking a cow one day when he noticed a fly go in the cows ear. After he was done with the milking, he saw the same fly in the milk. “That’s funny,” he said. “That fly went in one ear and out the udder!”

Sept. 9 is the Farm Crawl!

ImageEver wondered how milk gets from the cow to your table? Come to Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy and find out for FREE during the second annual Farm Crawl, sponsored by the Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership.

We’re offering trolley rides from our newly opened tour center; tours to see the cows, wallabies, and calves; cow milking; free ice cream; barbecued pork sandwiches; kids’ tattoos; contests; and door prizes. But this event isn’t just about us. Visitors can see produce farms, livestock farms, crop farms and a winery all over Northeast Iowa during the Farm Crawl. Some farms are even showcasing their energy conservation practices. The event is Sunday, Sept. 9, from 1 to 5 p.m. Visitors can roam from farm to farm, wherever the road takes them! Come support local agriculture and have a lot of fun.

In addition to our farm, other sites include: Engelbrecht Family Winery, Fredericksburg; Hawkeye Buffalo Ranch, Fredericksburg; Genuine Faux Farm, Tripoli; Rainbow Ridge Farm, Waverly; Friedrich’s Fresh Foods, Cedar Falls; C’mon Back Acres, Cedar Falls; Fitkin Popcorn, Cedar Falls; Hillcrest Farm, Cedar Falls; Jefferson Greenhouse and Orchard, Dunkerton; and Timeless Prairie Orchard, Winthrop.

Our retail stores, Moo Roo and the Outlet, sell goods from many of the farms on the tour.

For descriptions of each site, visit and look under News & Events.

Check out some of our photos from last year. We had a blast!


Giving tours


More tours


Milking the wooden cow


Trolley rides


Hay bale contest

ImageEnjoying free ice cream


The view from the big tractor


The view from the mini tractors

See you there!

Written by Jordan Hansen

Blog Roundup – Back to School Edition

School has started – woo hoo!! My daughter started sixth grade last week. One of her summary thoughts about the week?

“I think I’m going to be bringing cold lunch practically every day.”

This is NOT a post about advantages/disadvantages of school lunch. It’s a quick post about blogs and websites with lunchtime tips. For my kids, I always struggle with making their lunches varied but still healthy and edible (from their perspective). While I think leftover sesame peanut noodles with tofu sounds amazing, they would rather eat a plain bagel. JUST a plain bagel.

There are several items for sale in the Cedar Falls Outlet and Waterloo Moo Roo that make perfect additions to a packed lunch, or a great snack on their own. A few examples:

  • Individually packaged Baker string cheese
  • Single-serving yogurts from Country View Dairy (regular and Greek!)
  • Organic blue or yellow corn chips from the Whole Grain Milling Company and Kramer’s salsa – just put 1/2 cup of salsa in a small container and some chips into a baggie
  • Any of the firm cheeses we sell would be delicious in a lunch when cut into cubes and packed with fruit
  • The quarter hams from Beeler’s can be kept in the fridge and sliced fresh in the morning for ham (and cheese!) sandwiches

FANTASTIC article from the Cedar Rapids Examiner about packing healthy lunches.

This list of tips for packing school lunch from SheKnows is a few years old, but still very relevant.

The blog Weelicious has loads of family-friendly and kid-friendly recipe ideas, plus lunchtime ideas.

The blog Never Seconds is written by a student in the UK, and she invites guest students from other countries to post about their school lunches as well.

There are some really fun ideas for bento box school lunches at the blog Another Lunch.

Do you ever wonder about what kids are eating at school? Loads of information can be found on the National School Lunch Program website, and at the Iowa Department of Education site.

A new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids who lived in states with consistent laws about what’s available in vending machines and for snacks gained less weight than kids who lived in states with no laws. Pretty interesting stuff, and a summary can be found on the CBSNews site.

Written by Disa Cornish