Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Long Days....

Today was a LONG day.  It wasn't necessarily that hard or bad, just lots to do.  It started out with a new baby boy this morning.  Both mom & baby did well.  Warren & Gail are gone to a dairy meeting for a couple of days, so Brent & I are slugging through everything on our own.  Before we even got cows milked, the garage door installers, our electrician, and the concrete crew pulled into the barnyard.  It was a little crowded for awhile!
We continue to pick up the "leftovers" (trash & junk) from the barn demolition, and keep cleaning up behind all the cows and the 4" of rain we had over the weekend.  We really needed the rain, but I think we have enough for awhile now.  Beggars can't be choosers, and we were definitely begging for some rain prior to this week.  Now it sounds like we may get several showers in the next week.
On the good side, we FINALLY have new straw.  We ran out shortly before the wheat was harvested, so we were having to be a little stingy-er than we would have liked with bedding for awhile.  With the roof finished on the barn, we were also able to mount fans to get our cows through the nasty heat wave last week, and use that new bedding to give them a break from the mud that is everywhere after the rain.
Tonite brought another bundle of joy, a new heifer.  I found her after Brent & I ate supper, but since there is that mud everywhere, we went ahead & moved her to the calf barn into nice, dry bedding, and got her fed new colostrum (full of antibodies & proteins that her body needs to fend off infections) before going to bed ourselves.
It was a long day, but it had a good beginning & a good ending, and lots accomplished in between!

She was a little tuckered out after we moved her.  (It wasn't a hard trip - she got to ride on Brent's lap in the front seat of the ATV)   She drank down a whole bottle of milk, and I hope is ready for another bottle in the morning.  You can see another of the calves peaking its head out to check out the new arrival!

Monday, July 18, 2011

We Don't Get Out Much....

First, let me just say that we did try to go to church on Sunday, Pastor Steve, but having missed church for nearly a month while we've been readying the barn for demolition, probably led us to miss the announcement telling us that church was being held elsewhere this Sunday.....so, we went to an early showing of the new Harry Potter movie.  The last time we went to a movie theater was HP, Deathly Hallows, part 1, and the last movie we saw prior to that I think was HP, Half-Blood Prince.  (Can you tell we don't get out much!)

We are complete Harry Potter geeks.  We have all the movies, all the books......So, I had a giggle this morning when our "Lestrange" sisters came into the parlor next to each other.  We also have a Nymphadora, Andromeda, & Hermione wondering around.  (hey, when you are searching for cow names, you use whatever inspiration comes to you & they are cool names that we won't get confused!).

Narcissa (black) & Bellatrix (red) cows in the parlor
For some reason, they were all camera shy this morning....but Bellatrix always looks mad (hence how she got her name!), & she's got a funky red/black hair color.

I also tried to use up what I had in the frig tonite to make a BLT pizza with all the fresh ingredients available.  I was a little heavy-handed with the salt, but it is still pretty good!  (at least Brent ate half of it & didn't complain).  And, it incorporates both pork & dairy, so ENJOY!

Cut up tomatoes.  Add some balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt & pepper.  Cook off in 350 deg oven for 15 minutes. While tomatoes are cooking, coat a pizza crust with olive oil & parmesan cheese (grated or shredded), and cook bacon in microwave.  When tomatoes are hot, add diced up lettuce (lettuce should wilt when added).  Spread tomato & lettuce mixture over crust, add bacon, and cheese (mozzerella or provolone, something that will melt).  Add fresh basil.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, just until cheese is melted.

We are using this time to catch up on house/office work, because it is just ICKY outside, and will be all week.  Brent & his dad got lots of fans mounted in the barn today though, so that hopefully, we can get the cows a little more comfort in all this heat!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Knee-High by the 4th of July

The old saying is that corn should be "knee high by the 4th of July". That saying should now say "tasseled by the 4th of July".

The reason why farmers can grow enough corn (and other grains like wheat, oats, & soybeans), is that science has helped us have plants with a higher yield. We have eliminated different diseases and things that slow down plant growth. We have better herbicides and insecticides that are safer, better for the environment, and we use less of them to produce more. Additionally, we've learned more about what plants needs in order to grow well; exactly what combination of nutrients and at what times help them grow. Some of this has been done through simple selective breeding techniques (breeding the best plants together to get the best hybrids), some by production practices (spacing of rows, tillage methods), some by bigger equipment that gets done faster (bigger planters allow us to plant more acres in a single day, & corn that is planted earlier tends to yield more, as well as GPS allows us to plant straighter & not waste seed), and, yes, some of this improvement comes from "GMOs" (Genetically-Modified Organisms). There has been a lot of bad publicity and concerns about the process of genetically modifying corn, which is a very simple way that genes from other plants are added to the corn. Our family feels that this is such a safe process that we eat products from our corn and feed it to our cows, and we have made a very strong commitment to only do what's best for our cows. All of these practices on our farm allow us to take care of our land, do more with less in this tight economy, and create the best environment for the crops that we grow.

We are well past Knee High right now!  We are always at the mercy of Mother Nature though.  We finally got some much-needed rain on Monday, and although it came with too much wind, our corn fields were not affected. Some of our farmer friends were not as lucky as their corn was damaged by the wind. With any luck, everything will work out for all of us and Mother Nature will give a nice rain as our corn starts to pollinate and make ears the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sometimes, Life is Just Hard

It's been a flurry of activity lately. Last weekend was consumed by the Annual District Holstein (aka the "Black & White" show). Since we don't have a trailer load full of cattle to get ready, Brent & I help organize and staff the show. We have to organize all the entries, figure out all the animals that made it to the fairgrounds, collect the entry fees, and then make sure all the cattle get to the ring. However, we had some additional stuff to get ready.

Brent's cousin, Addison, is 4, and her parents bring her by the farm now & then. She reminds us that Kawasaki mules & cats are WAY cooler than all the cows on the farm, and that the word "Why?" was invented just so 4-year-olds can use it every 30 seconds.
A typical conversation:
Addison:  "Where are you going Brent?"
Brent:  "To get cows"
Addison: "Why?"
Brent:  "So they can get milked"
Addison:  "Why?"
Brent: "So we can drink the milk"
Addison:  "Why?"........get the picture!

So, back in May she came & picked her calf out of the baby barn. "Hello Kitty" was the only red calf in the barn at that time, hence she got picked (and, yes, Addison named her). Hello Kitty therefore became the peewee showmanship calf. At our show, we have a peewee class, where all the little kids get to show, and everyone gets a trophy. It is the highlight of the day for many people. (As evidenced by the 6-person entourage Addison had when she showed last weekend!)

So, she came & worked with her calf after day care. Her attention span didn't always last very long, but, hey, it was about as good as you can expect from a 4-year-old. She was really excited about showing. However......  
Farming teaches kids many lessons. Unfortunately, one of those lessons is that bad things do sometimes happen. That happened to us Friday morning, when Hello Kitty died in an accident. Addison didn't take this very well, but neither did the rest of us.  It never gets easier, no matter how old you are. Addison was even more upset when she was told she might not get to show in peewee showmanship because she no longer had a cow. Never fear though, all of our wonderful dairy friends were more than willing to lend us a calf. Big thanks to Brock who stood in for the day.  

It was all ok, when the day ended with a trophy!

Here's praying a little rain comes our way this week! The dust is getting ridiculous......

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday....Down She Goes

The sides came off 1st....

Then, bit by bit, the middle section of the roof came off.  We left the walls that used to be in front of the stalls to continue to serve as gates.....

....Because the cows don't stop getting milked during this.  We continued to use the feed bunk as the middle gate.  The cows go into the parlor from this side, and come out on the other side.  That way we can keep the cows that have and have not been milked separated.

And, then at some point, we had to start moving the feed bunks to the temporary-converted hay shed , so that the cows are out of the way of the construction crew.