What's Happening on the Farm

We’ve finally wrapped up our harvest. It takes many hours and a lot of energy for our family to harvest, dry, and put away food for the winter for all our animals each year. This year, we took some great aerial photos of our corn and bean harvest in action. As you can see, it takes not only human power, but also a lot of equipment and machinery to get the job done: two combines, two tractors pulling grain augers, and four semi-trucks. The semi-trucks transport grain to the dryers where we dry the feed ourselves and then haul it back to storage. Harvesting and baling hay is a separate effort and all our hay is baled and put away for the winter, also. Every year we're grateful that we have so many family members involved to get the job done!

Despite how much work it is to grow and harvest our own feed, we really wouldn't have it any other way. It's important to us to know what our animals are eating. This is true for our Jersey cows, whether they’re grazing on our lush pastures in spring, summer, and fall, or getting the high quality non-GMO feed we've grown and prepared for them in the winter. It’s also true for our goats, steers, and hogs, who we feed a diet rich in our own corn year-round. What our animals eat impacts the quality of our products, whether it’s our milk or our meat, and growing and mixing our own feed allows us to have the most control over their diets. Just as we hope you feel good about knowing where your food came from when you purchase Kilgus Farmstead milk or meat, we feel good about knowing where our animals’ food comes from, too.  
If you ever want to learn more about our farm and how we raise and care for our animals, we welcome you to visit and take a tour guided by one of our family members. We just wrapped up our tour season for this year, but they'll start up again in the spring (see our website for more info about what to expect). This season we showed the farm to visitors from all over the United States and at least five different countries! 

In the photo below, Jenna Kilgus is leading a group of health and wellness professionals and dietetic interns on a tour of Kilgus Farmstead. This group wanted to learn more about how animal care, diet, and cow comfort contribute to the quality of Kilgus Farmstead dairy products. In turn, they'll take this information out into the world and share it with the people they serve. We're happy to do our part to raise awareness about why we dairy farmers do what we do to produce really good milk!

State and National Dairy Shows - 2017

Showing dairy cattle is a longstanding Kilgus family tradition.  Each year there are opportunities on both the local and national level to show our Jerseys, and this is an important way for us to validate the quality of our dairy cows.

In August of this year, Trent showed several of our Jersey dairy cows at the Illinois State Fair (photo of award above). He also showed at the World Dairy Expo and got a 3rd place ribbon there, which is a pretty big deal in the dairy world.

In November, Trent will bring our Jerseys all the way to Louisville, Kentucky for the national North American Livestock Expo. If you're curious to see for yourself how we rate at this upcoming show, you can watch the livestream of the competition here.

Trent will be showing on the livestream starting at 7:30am on Monday, November 6th. Kilgus Dairy has consistently ranked in the top half of the class at the national expo, and that is the goal again this year!

Beef House Rolls Are Back!

We love these yummy rolls from Beef House Restaurant in Covington, Indiana, and our holiday season wouldn't be complete without them. What's better than the smell of fresh bread baking as your family and friends arrive at your home for a holiday meal?!

The rolls are sold by the dozen ($7.50 each) and we'll do our best to keep them in stock in our store until Christmas. We do take special orders, so if you know you want them for Thanksgiving now, your best bet would be to call or email and reserve a dozen or more so that we're sure to have them for you. 

Keep in mind that they do take a day to rise before baking, so plan accordingly for your holiday meals. They're worth the wait!

Fall Recipe Ideas

As the weather turns colder, we start thinking about beef stew. Pairing our beef with local, seasonal carrots and potatoes makes for a satisfying meal, indeed. We love the smell of this dish slow cooking in the house on a chilly day, and then warming ourselves up with it from the inside out for dinner. The key, we've found, is using chuck roast chopped into bite size pieces, rather than stew meat. We also think that using our own Jersey beef makes all the difference -- but try it for yourself to find out!  

Here are a couple of variations that we're going to try this fall. Pick the one that works for you!

Beef Stew with Carrots and Potatoes: This recipe sears the meat in olive oil first, then slowly braises it with garlic and onions in a wine-based broth. It says that "after a few hours in the oven, the meat becomes meltingly tender and enveloped in a rich deeply flavored sauce." Total cook time is over three hours, but the ingredient list is simple and prep time is pretty short. I like their tip about adding the carrots and potatoes in near the end to prevent them from getting mushy.

Best Crock Pot Beef Stew: If you're looking for something a little simpler, but still mouthwateringly delicious, try this crock pot version. You can start it in the morning and cook it on low all day. And isn't it nice to have that meal ready at the end of the day?

However you choose to prepare it, we hope you'll enjoy some Kilgus Farmstead beef this fall. You can buy it in our country store or through a select few retail partners in central Illinois or the Chicago area. 

Meet the Kilgus Family

If you're a regular Kilgus Farmstead newsletter reader, you've already met our farm's founders, Duane and Arlene Kilgus, and the first in line in the next generation, Paul and Carmen Kilgus. Today, we'd like to introduce Matt and Jenna Kilgus and family. 

Matt Kilgus is Duane's grandson and Paul's nephew. Matt's father, Jeff Kilgus, took over the dairy farm with his brother Paul when a farming accident caused Duane to have to give up farming in 1989. Jeff and Paul ran the farm together for nearly ten years, developing strategies to preserve the family farm including transitioning the farm from Holsteins to Jerseys. Sadly, Jeff died of cancer at the young age of 42, only nine years later. 

At the young age of sixteen, Matt knew he wanted to carry the Kilgus name in farming into yet another generation. In addition to working on the farm, he also finished high school and graduated from college, becoming a full partner with his uncle Paul afterward.

You can read more about the history of the farm and changes that Paul and Matt have made together here. It was Matt and Paul, along with their families, who made the decision to build the on-farm creamery and begin bottling and distributing Kilgus Farmstead dairy products.

Matt and his wife, Jenna, and their three children now live across the road from the Kilgus Farmstead Creamery. Matt is the devoted Manager of Kilgus Farmstead. From bottling and deliveries to marketing and sales, Matt can always be found working hard to ensure the high quality and success of our dairy products.

Along with Carmen, Jenna plays a leading role at the Kilgus Farmstead Country Store. She also keeps the Farmstead books and develops marketing materials with Matt. Through farm tours and other special events, Jenna pours her knowledge and experience into consumer education. She teaches about the importance of farming, the enduring commitment of farmers to their land and animals, and knowing where your food comes from.

Matt and Jenna’s oldest daughter, Kamber, loves to help in the store. Kamber also enjoy giving tours during the summer months and showing off her favorite cows! Matt and Jenna also have a son, Collin, who can be found working in the field with his daddy, and Kelsey is their youngest daughter.
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