Chris and I connected via social media several years ago now (Really? That long!?) I’ve always enjoyed Chris’ love for dairy, his sense of humor as well as his ability to share so eloquently share his thoughts and opinions. I was SO EXCITED when I saw Chris had a lovely lady named Adriane in his life. Adriane is equally as passionate and is the perfect complement to Chris’ sense of humor. The two really are a perfect fit and it’s been fun to watch their relationship and marriage bloom right around the same time as Mark and myself. Adriane’s blog Little House on the Dairy, is one of my favorites. She shares about farm life, dairy cows, faith, and of course some awesome farm recipes! It is truly an honor to feature these two lovely people and their farm. Enjoy!
DAIRY: HEINS FAMILY FARM – CHRIS & ADRIANE HEINS
When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
Chris: When I realized that cow racing wasn’t a viable occupation. Just kidding…kinda. I got my first farming paycheck when I was ten years old. I’d been following my dad around for years, but I got paid $50 for helping with hay that summer, and that was pretty awesome. I was born into farming but it was in high school that I first started thinking about making a real profession out of it. After college, I came back to help my parents with our dairy expansion and realized that I wanted to stay and farm. I’ve been here full-time for seven and a half years now.
Adriane: My first paycheck was $80.00 for walking beans. Just tossing that out there.
Who farms with you and what are their roles?
Chris: Number 1496, number 1098, number 714, number 2 . . . oh, wait. You’re not talking cows. I farm with my parents and about 15 employees. My dad does the overall administration, I manage the dairy and my mom does bookkeeping and helps me at the dairy.
Adriane: And I pretty much just feed Chris and keep him supplied with coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
What has been the hardest part of farming for you? The most satisfying part?
Chris: It can be difficult to find a balance between tasks that never end and time for family, yourself, friends. But I love getting to work outside with my hands, with animals, with the ground. It’s really rewarding getting to — figuratively and literally — build a life for your family.
What crops (or animals) do you grow and why?
Chris: We raise dairy cows and grow corn, soybeans and rye. We feed the corn to the cows as silage for forage or as grain. The soybeans we sell to offset the soybean meal we buy for the cows. The rye we chop for silage or graze.
What is your favorite thing to do with a food crop you grow?
Adriane: As the daughter of a pig farmer and the wife of a dairy farmer, I can’t choose pork chops over yogurt or chocolate milk over pork loin. That would make for one awkward family reunion. So I keep the peace by making creamy and savory Iowa Corn Chowder. It’s a hearty soup that combines the best of both worlds: milk and cheese from our dairy farmers and bacon from the hog producers among us! (And it keeps me in the good graces of both my dad and my husband, which is never a bad thing.)
What is one message you’d like to get across to the general public about what you do?
Chris: Our family has been taking care of the land and animals for six generations, and we want to be good stewards so that another six generations can continue to do the same.
Adriane: The work is hard and the hours are long, but it’s really rewarding when people visit the farm, see the cows and realize that the milk they put on their Cheerios in the morning could come from these animals.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in getting into farming?
Chris: When I was thinking of coming back to the farm, my dad told me I’d have to work longer and harder for a dollar. I would say the same, but I would also encourage any person who has an interest in farming to start with a plan. If you don’t have a business plan or a way forward that’s viable, it’s not going to be good for you or your family or the land or the animals. On the flip side, a good plan and a good strategy combined with hard work and a sense of humor will see you through tough times, and it can build a legacy for the next generation.
Adriane: Farm dogs can multiply just as quickly as rabbits. You go to sleep one night with only one dog guarding the farm, and the next morning there’s three more. Consider yourself forewarned.
I have this love affair for bread pudding. Pretty much whenever I see it on a menu, I have to order it. But for some reason I had never made it myself. That changed when I received the Heins submission for dairy. After all, bread pudding is the perfect dairy dish… Cream, milk, butter, all the good stuff! I decided to add some chocolate into this bread pudding, however, feel free to make it and adapt it how you wish! I also added a surprise element to the pudding and sauce… whiskey!
- Chocolate Bread Pudding
- 8 slices (3 heaping cups) stale or dried bread
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
- pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup whiskey
- extra 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar for topping
- Whiskey Cream Sauce
- 1 cup cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup whiskey
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Over low heat in a small saucepan, warm the milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, both sugars, salt, and chocolate just until the butter melts.
- Meanwhile prepare a 8 inch square baking dish and cut or tear bread into small, bite sized pieces into the prepared baking dish.
- Pour the hot milk mixture over the bread. Let sit for a few minutes, submerging any pieces of bread that rise to the top.
- Beat the eggs in a separate bowl with the whiskey. And stir them into the bread mixture.
- Mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the top.
- Set the baking dish in a larger baking pan or dish and pour hot water into the larger pant to within about an inch of the bread pudding dish.
- Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold with or without whiskey cream sauce.
- Whiskey Cream Sauce
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and sugar.
- Place the cornstarch and 1/4 cup whiskey in a small bowl, whisk to combine. Pour the cornstarch and whiskey into the cream mixture and bring to a boil.
- Once the sauce begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from heat and stir in the butter. Serve warm over bread pudding.
- Feel free to omit chocolate for more traditional bread pudding recipe
This post is part of my Thirty Days of Food series where I am writing about food and farming for the entire month of November, to find out more about it all or how to follow along, visit my Thirty Days of Food page to find more great recipes with farmer features!