Monday, October 24, 2011

The "Other" Animals....

One of the most common questions we get is "Do you have dogs, cats, or other animals?".
Well, this allows me to write a blog about our parlor cats, seeing as we have a new one, who has just started to go exploring....
Brent petting his cats....

On the farm there are:
76 milking cows
20 dry cows (meaning they are in their 2 month rest period between lactations - hence they aren't milking, and are "dry")
20 bred heifers (pregnant girls who have not yet had a baby)
20 yearling heifers (girls that are not yet old enough to have a baby)
30 little heifers (ranging from about 1 week old, to several months old)
=~166 cows of varying ages

That is plenty to keep us busy!  However, we also have the typical farm cats (nope, no farm dog for the time being).  Every animal on the farm has to have a purpose.  The farm cats' purpose is to catch mice.  Some are better at it than others.  The parlor cats are among the lazier portion.  Why are they lazy?  Well, because they sit in the parlor waiting for us to give them waste milk.  They lounge on our towels that we use to clean the cows' udders with, sit on Warren & Brent's laps and get petted.....Yeah, they have it pretty easy.  I do see them wondering around the farm from time to time, but they always seem to come back by milking time.  The current parlor cats consist of Tank, Red, Spike, Momma Cat, and the white cat that they all seem to fight with.  Last week, Momma Cat had another set of kittens (Red & Spike being from her 1st litter).  They were born in the parlor, and are just starting to venture out.  I'm claiming this kitty for me!
The new little guy - peaking out thru the towel boxes...

Rest assured, I'll get to all your questions in due time!  It has been a busy couple of days on the farm, and I am tired (Brent is already in bed), so more questions will have to wait for another day!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is it Stinky?

Hello to all my new blog readers from Ms. Mimlitz's class!  I am anxiously awaiting all of your comments, so that I can use them to come up with new ideas to blog about.
To answer Corey's question:  Is it "stinky" working with all those animals?
Well, yeah, a little bit!  Just like anything else that doesn't know how to flush a toilet; like your dog, cat, or even babies, animals will create some smell at certain times.  As long as we do a good job of removing the "stinky stuff" (manure) from where the animals are, and storing it correctly, or applying it to the fields as fertilizer for our crops, we can keep the odor to a minimum.  We have a holding pond where all the manure from our milk cows is stored.  When I used to come visit Brent at the farm before we were married, I didn't even know it was there, as it forms a crust on top that keeps the odor in. 
As soon as it dries up, Brent will begin to apply the manure to our fields.

The "spikes" on the front that are attached to hoses actually go into the ground, and inject the manure directly into the soil, where the crops' roots will use it as fertilizer next spring.

He uses this equipment to pump the manure into the tanker, and then inject it directly into the soil.  The manure has nutrients in it that will help our corn grow to feed back to our cows.  So, the cows help grow their own food!
We do the same thing with the pigs.

A typical hog barn
You see, all the manure falls through the holes (or slats) to a concrete pit, where the manure is stored until we can apply it to the fields.  As soon as the crops are harvested, the crews will be out applying manure to grow corn to feed the pigs.
It all works in a big nutrient circle.
So, yeah, animals smell a little bit, but I don't mind!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It just doesn't get any better than this!

This may look like a sign that Brent & I had a fight and I ended up on the couch.  It couldn't be farther from the truth.  My exciting Friday, now Saturday night, went something like this:
10:30 - Push up feed & check maternity - Bev just starting to calve.  Move to the couch & set the alarm for 1 AM
1:00 - Check on Bev - we have front feet, but they look big, so I try to help.  Bev wants nothing to do with my help.  We both go back to our respective beds.  I decide to give her another 30 minutes and check again before I have to wake Brent up to help me.
1:50 - We've got front feet and part of a head.  I think Bev knew she needed help, because this time, she let me get close enough to help.  1-2-3 pulls, and the calf was out.  Surely after all that I was not only expecting it to be a bull calf (Bev is nearly 10 days overdue), but I was surprised if it would be alive.....We have a heartbeat!  I used all the tricks I've been taught over the years - tickle the nose with straw - no luck; grab the tongue - good response there; I even tried some mouth to mouth!  A few more tongue grabs, trying to pull "ick" out of the airway, and some rubbing, and I had a good regular breathing, if not a little labored.
I made Bev get up - she's ok, and the maternal instincts kicked in.  She went to licking off her new GIRL with gusto!  I watched her go for 30 minutes, making sure the calf kept breathing, as I didn't think we were out of the woods.  I'm going to go check again, but at this point, surely she'll keep breathing.

I don't care who you are, or what you do for a just doesn't get any better than this!

Bev is black, so doesn't show up in this picture....but our new baby girl is breathing!

Friday, October 14, 2011

I knew...

When we got married, we knew we were both in agriculture, and that it isn't a 9 to 5 job.  That's ok; that's what we do, know & love. 
Multiple nights this week have been spent in the barn way past dark.  Tuesday night, we went to the neighbors to look at cows to purchase to fill the barn after milking.  Then Wednesday night, we came in after milking cows at 7 pm, ate a quick supper, and then went back out to the barn to install some of the last pieces in for our stalls.  In the process of all the building and installing, we were short pieces (a stall here, a cross piece there, a piece of channel & U-Bolt over here).  So, Brent went to Wisconsin to get the last of the missing pieces, so we could finish.  We hope to bring home those new cows from the neighbors soon and want everything to be in place.  I was still working with the impact wrench (it has become my new best friend the last few weeks!) after the timers kicked the lights off in the barn!

We had lots of "help", stepping on our extension cords & sniffing us and our stuff as we worked!

I guess this is payback for the night we had to drive out of our way on Thanksgiving to deliver a piece of manure equipment, or the Sunday we had to go earnotch pigs for a study.....

And, I'm sure they'll be many more!