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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
Congratulations! We will send you an email with hoodie options…
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?
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.
Written by Disa Cornish
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!”
Ever 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 http://www.uni.edu/ceee/ and look under News & Events.
Check out some of our photos from last year. We had a blast!
Milking the wooden cow
Hay bale contest
The view from the big tractor
The view from the mini tractors
See you there!
Written by Jordan Hansen
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.
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
Just like horses, cows also need their hooves trimmed to stay healthy! Dream graciously offered to let us take pictures of her hoof trimming experience. Thanks Dream!
Here she is anxiously waiting for her turn.
When it was Dream’s turn, she stepped into the hoof trimming chute. As she’s stepping in, she steps over a belt. The belt isn’t very fashionable, but at least it allows us better access to her hooves!
The belt then lifts her up, suspending her off of the ground.
Just like Dream, Blair Hansen agreed to let us take his picture too! Here he is tying down Dream’s feet. This is to prevent any unwanted movement which could potentially result in an accident. Dream must have know this because she stayed very still for Blair.
Now we’re finally ready to get trimming! Each hoof is individually trimmed with care. Just the way Dream likes it!
See all that white stuff on the ground? That’s hoof shavings from previously trimmed cows.
Look at those shavings fly!
After trimming the back feet, Blair moves on to Dream’s front hooves to finish her up.
Don’t worry Dream, we’re all done! Your hooves are nice and trimmed, making life easier and more comfortable for you. The Hansen’s trim their herd’s hooves about 4 times a year so we’ll see you again in 3 months Dream!
Written by: Christine Schick
Who doesn’t love looking at old family photos? Check out the Hansen family then and now. The first is from December 1995 and the second was taken just two weeks ago. The boys have always had baby faces, haven’t they? Most of them don’t look like they are in their 30s or pushing 40. But it’s good genes — Jay and Jeanne are also pretty youthful-looking in their early 60s. I think it’s because the family stays so active with work and play. It always amazes me that even at the end of a hard day’s work they all have the energy to wrestle around with their kids/grandkids. Milk must be the fountain of youth.