Friday, August 26, 2011

It's a Small World....

This has been a week of meetings.  The average return time to the farm has been around 10:30 pm (bedtime). To say mornings have been a struggle would be an understatement, but meetings are enjoyable.  We get to get out & about and meet with other farm leaders and discuss issues.
And sometimes, you run into things you would never expect!  Tuesday morning, I drove into Naperville to speak to a group of Rotarians about all things livestock.  I have given a LOT of these presentations (over 90), and always come away with a renewed spirit, as everyone is so interested in where their food comes from.
This week, I was entertained to meet a man who knew where my hometown, Little York, was!  In fact, he was the grandson of Mrs. Haben, who lived "over the hill" from our church for many years & taught Sunday School & Bible School when we were growing up.

It is amazing what a small world it is!

The farm has had it's ups & downs lately (as farming always does).  We had a set of live heifer twins (up), and a nice new heifer that died during labor (major downer).  We are waiting the return of our concrete contractor to hopefully finish up the stalls for the cows in the new barn.  In the meantime, new fans have been mounted, we've gotten the beginning of some equipment mounted, and we are getting into a routine for pushing up feed.
You see, the cows used to eat in a raised feed bunk that they could access from either side.

While that had its advantages:  the cows should always be able to reach feed; it also had its disadvantages: Brent had to drive the tractor into the barn & then back out (and make a 90 degree turn at the end-resulting in a few less than secured posts on the east end of the barn, and having to move the cows out of the alley before he could feed), as well as if the feed got old, the only way to clean it was to pitch it out with a scoop shovel (not good on anyone's back).

The new way has lots of advantages:  the cows don't have to stand up to reach it, they can't pick up a big mouthful & throw it up in the air and onto their backs (as a few of our boss cows love to do), or at least not as easily.  Brent can drive-by their new bunk to feed at anytime, and the cows really enjoy the ceramic tile that is laid underneath all that feed.  Why would we spend some serious $ on ceramic tile for the cows? Well, what would you rather lick at the bottom of your plate - concrete or ceramic tile?  The cows enjoy licking at the ceramic tile, and it won't wear away over time like concrete.  The really awesome part of this feeding system, is that if the cows don't eat all their feed (as they didn't during the heat), we can simply drive by with a skid loader & scoop it out of the way to give them fresh stuff.
The only disadvantage is that as the cows nudge & eat off this pile, they push some of the feed away from them, so that they can't reach it over this curb.  So, we have to come along 3-4 times a day & push the feed back to their bunk area.  We are still experimenting with the right piece of equipment (push broom, pitchfork, snow shovel), and are getting a schedule down for when we need to do this.

As you can see, we have to refill their plate, so they are never hungry.

 But, the cows are eating well, and seem to be enjoying it!  Their additional milk will be how they tell us Thank You!

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