Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Farmer's Toolbox...

This assortment of objects may look like I took it in a doctor's or veterinarian's office, but instead it is the tools occupying a lot of Brent's days.  (And, may I just say, I had written this post before my husband bought the toolbox to organize it all - bless him!)  While we greatly appreciate (and use) the advice and knowledge of our vets, they can't be at the farm all the time (and certainly not available to everyone all the time), and let's face it, they aren't necessarily cheap.  So, we, as farmers, have to learn to do some diagnostic tests and treatments on our own.   Nowhere, am I finding this more true than with dairy cows, and especially fresh (or recently calved) cows.  Coming from a background of pigs & beef cattle, I was shocked at the difference when I moved to the dairy.  I came to realize that a dairy cow resting in an "unusual" spot (freestalls are like church pews - the cows all kind of have their "assigned" spot; another post on that later) could mean that she is sick, a funny look (from the cow to me) could mean she's in heat, and that also sometimes the bellering of the bull really means absolutely nothing!
Calving is a stressful time in a cow's life, and so we are closely monitoring each cow for signs of distress.  We do what we can, with what we have to keep each cow in proper health.  Sometimes that means absolutely nothing - she's doing just fine, and we are just checking.  Sometimes, it is energy tubes, full of nutrients to keep all her systems functioning at top performance.  And, yes, sometimes that does include antibiotics when necessary to clear any infections.  (Pushing a 100# baby out doesn't come without some potential issues)
When that happens, we use red duct tape to mark the cow's legs and pull her milk from the milk supply until everything has cleared her system.  We have an on-farm tester that allows us to do the testing ourselves. 
We are checking all the fresh cows every day for the first 2 weeks after calving, or until we think they are on a solid plan for success.  Cows that start off well, will reward us later with not only more milk, but a healthier system that will make her ready for another calf in another year.


  1. JONATHAN FROM MRS.MIMLITZ'S CLASSApril 19, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    This is Jonathan from Mrs.Mimlitz's class!!! Hi!!Carrie it's a long time since I talked to you sorry. Do you work a lot at the barn. Are the cows hard to handle is it lot of work what other kind of work do you do. Is farming fun do you have another job. That's all the questions I have for you I hope you answer my question on your blog. The barn sounds really fun but I never know that's why I'm asking you?

  2. We spend a LOT of our time in the barn. Morning milking is from ~6-9 AM, and then Brent will spend another hour or so giving the cows their morning feeding, and checking all the fresh (recently calved) cows out. The day is spent doing various chores and projects around the farm: hauling manure, planting and harvesting crops, working on tractors and equipment, and anything else that might come up. Brent then has to feed cows again around 4 PM. Evening milking is from ~5-8 PM, and (hopefully) the ending of our day. I'm not around from most of this as I am NOT very good at getting up in the morning, though I try to get out for a little while, and then I go to work all day with pigs, and catch about the 2nd half of milking at night. I try to help out doing wherever I am needed on weekends, but a farmer's work is never done. There is always a never-ending list of projects we'd like to get done.


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