Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 28: Thanksgiving - Blessing

I also wrote about Blessing a long time ago.  I literally brought her into this world & breathed life back into this calf when she was born.  Now, to see her in the milking barn, I am reminded of that late night, the thrill I had in saving her, and how thankful I am that we get to farm!  Even the late nights, cold days, and all the ick in between that we end up dealing with - it is awesome

Blessing is usually in the 1st group or two of cows in the morning, and she's just a little skittish, but nowhere NEAR what her mama was.

Full Name:  Blukel PC Exactor Blessing
We call Her:  #141 or Blessing
Age: 2 years, 1 month
# calves/lactations: 1

Linking up with Holly here

Day 27: Revisiting - Million Dollar Reward

Here she was a long time ago:

And, here she is now:

My how times change.....

Full Name:  Po-Cop Million Dollar Reward
We call Her:  #101
Age: 2 years, 8 months
# calves/lactations: 1 - due again late winter

Linking up with Holly here

Day 26: Interesting - Curious George

Ok, so I've been really excited to talk about "Curious George".  That actually isn't her name at all, but that is what we call her, because she is slow, methodical, and not scared of anything!  She always has to come check out what we are doing, and give us a sniff, nudge, or just sometimes stand there and stare.  Although George is curious, she sometimes gets completely freaked out by the grates in the barn, and while she doesn't spook or jump, she will simply NOT cross over them sometimes (no matter how much you may push & pull, and if a 1800# cow doesn't want to go somewhere, believe me, you are NOT going to make her).  But, she crosses them at least 4x a day to get in & out of the parlor, so maybe she just learns to not look down at that time.  However, she is so calm, sometimes we just leave her standing there while we sort or go get other cows to bring in or out of the barn.  Usually when we come back from wherever we are going, there is George, still standing in the same spot we left her.
In fact, she is the only cow that doesn't back out of the headlocks in fear when Ainsley comes running down along the alley (to allow great pictures like this to be taken).

 Curious George & Ainsley

Full Name:  Po-Cop Jeeves Tomatillo
What we call her:  Curious, George, Curious George, or #9030
Age: 4 years, 2 months
# calves/lactations: 2, due for #3 this winter

Linking up with Holly here

Day 25: Interesting - Ribbon

Ok, Ribbon has a pretty interesting story.  Ribbon is the only ET (embryo transfer) calf to be born on this farm (at least in the last 8 years since I've been around), and she was born a few weeks premature (or at least her mom hadn't even gotten moved to the "close-up" maternity pen yet).  I remember her being pulled out in muddy/snowy conditions, a very small little girl.
She has survived quite awhile and is now almost the oldest cow on the farm (unfortunately, we had to bid #864 good-bye this week, but Lucke has moved up as the "oldest").  Ribbon was bought at a sale as an embryo at a sale, and she was implanted into one of our cows that carried her (nearly) to term.
Ribbon is an Oman that is one of the great names in Holstein bulls.  His mom was bred & born by our friend Becky and her family @ Meier Meadows, and the cow, Jezebel, sold to another family in northern IL, and O-Bee Manfred Justice (shortened to OMan) is now a name known round the dairy world!  Pretty neat. (ok, so if you know Holsteins that might actually make sense to you.  If not, it was complete jibberish!)

Full Name: Miss O-Man Ribbon-ET
Age:  6 years, 8 months
# calves/lactations:  5
Lifetime Milk Production:  100,050# or 11,633 gallons

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24: The Interesting: Peach & Pear - a Twofer!

It's not very often that you get 2 live heifer twin calves, AND get to see them both come back into the milking string, but Peach & Pear are just that!  Unfortunately, twins are pretty hard on the mom, and we lost their mom after she had these two, but now we have double the P's.
The go back to a cow, Penelope, from a farm about an hour west of us that has lots of really good cows.  Penelope's daughter, Persephone (Peach & Pear's granddam) we sold at our state Holstein sale, and she ended up going just down the road to another neighbor, and we got to see her at the county fair for several years, towering over her new owner, Ellie.  I think she had a couple of heifers for Ellie - hopefully they are still doing well.  One of the best things for a farmer is to sell a cow, and know that she did well for her new owners!

Full Names:  Po-Cop Shout Peach & Po-Cop Shout Pear
What we call them:  #136 & 137
Age:  2 years, 2 months
# calves/lactations:  1 each (thank goodness!)
Lifetime Milk Production:  Pear - 1,761# or 204 gallons; Peach - 5,279# or 614 gallons.  (Peach has been milking longer than Pear.  We'll have to see if she catches up!

Day 23: The Revisited: Bambi

Ok, so I'm going to do a little "revisiting" of cows that I have talked about before on this blog.
First up, Bambi.
Bambi arrived in 2011 about the time we were finishing the new milking cow barn.  She came from a farm about an hour south of us.  The family had already sold their cows to our neighbor and they were milking well, but they still had some heifers available to sell, and so we bought 3 bred heifers together.  Unfortunately, Bambi is the only one left of the 3.  She is very big & TALL (though not the Tallest!)
Someday.....(that might be a while in the future), we think Bambi can be an Excellent cow.

Full Name:  Blukel Lightning Bambi
What we Call Her:  Bambi
Age:  4 yrs, 4 months
# calves/lactations:  2
Lifetime Milk Production:  46,449# or 5,401 gallons

Day 22: The J's & the K's: Jiffy

What else goes with Jelly than Peanut Butter!  (And, we already had a Peanut Butter, she was born right after Jelly), so we expanded a little with a "J", and got Jiffy.  Jiffy is like her mother, and is pretty slow and steady.  She doesn't usually like to leave the parlor when she is done milking, and so gets an extra "Let's go Jiffy" nearly every milking. 
She looks like her mother too.....

Full Name:  Po-Cop Prince Jiffy
What we Call her:  #1014 or Jiffy
Age:  3 yrs, 6 months
# calves/lacations:  2
Lifetime Milk Production:  24,304# or 2,826 gallons

Day 21: The J's & the K's: Jellybean

ok, so this begins a group of slightly entertaining names.  Jellybean is Jelly's 1st daughter (of several).
Jellybean is almost always one of the first cows into the parlor in a group.  She leads the way, and has a little more playfulness than her mom.  Jellybean is also one of the few cows that Addison knows by name (maybe Ainsley will soon too!).

Full Name:  Po-Cop Anando Jellybean
What we Call her:  Jellybean or #9006
Age:  4 years, 8 months
# calves/lactations:  3
Lifetime Milk Production:  64,051# or 7,448 gallons

Day 20: The J's & the K's: Jelly

Jelly is again a favorite on the farm.  Cows that have been around for almost 7 years have a tendency to grow on you.  Jelly is out of a cow that was bought from a farm in Central Illinois when Brent came home to farm.  Jelly is the most unexciteable cow there is - nothing bugs here, nor does she ever spook, get excited....nothing, very even keel.  Her favorite place is in a stall or at the feedbunk.
You'll meet some of her daughters/offspring the rest of the week.

Jelly is the big tall white cow (I couldn't get the other one out of the picture)

Full Name:  Po-Cop Lucas Jelly
What we Call her:  #7013 or Jelly
Age:  6 yrs, 6 months
# calves/lactations:  5
Lifetime Milk Production:  84,269# or 9,798 gallons

Day 19: The J's & K's: Kalypso

Kalypso is also one of my favorites, but truth be told, I sure wished she milked a lot more!   She looks almost exactly like her mama.  You will notice that she is in a different pen, as she is due to calve within the next 3 weeks, she is hanging out in a pen bedded with lots of straw to await her pending calf (unfortunately, its a bull). 
Kalypso & Kaliedoscope are sisters - I find it very interesting that Kaydence (their mom) had these calves at nearly the same time of year (there was an 8019 in the middle of these two). Kaliedoscope (#7025) was the 25th calf born in 2007, while Kalypso (#9025) was the 25th calf born in 2009 - pretty cool, huh?

Full Name:  Po-Cop Bolivia Kalypso
What we Call Her:  #9025 or Kalypso
Age:  4 years, 2 months
Calves:  2, with #3 due anytime!
Lifetime Milk Production:  42,088 pounds 4,893 gallons

Day 18: The J's & K's - Lauden (Loud n') Klear

Klear started our list of words that should start with "C", that we change to "K" to make them fit names for this cow family.  When you have bull names that you can work with, you have some fun with naming.

Full Name:  Po-Cop Laudan Klear
What we call Her:  Klear or #9016
Age:  4 years, 6 months
# calves/lactations:  3

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 17: The J's & K's - Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope probably could have made the list of "-est" cows as the best, but regardless, she is probably my favorite.
She just calved in again with her 5th calf.  She is a part of the "Kay" family, and I've even wrote about her before.  She milks a lot - I think she can get to 150,000# easy, and hopefully 200k+.  She is scored well (VG 85), and I think she can go Excellent someday (I hope), which would be the 1st Po-Cop (or home-raised) animal to do so.  So, let's just say that we hope everything goes well, and that I haven't jinxed her by writing this!

Full Name:  Po-Cop Elayo Kaleidoscope
What we Call Her:  Kaleidoscope or #7025
Age:  6 years, 3 months
Calves/Lactations: 5
Lifetime Milk Production:  109,417 pounds or 12,722 gallons

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 16: Red Week - Shorthorns - Sandy

Ok, so this is a name I can get behind.  This is Sandy.  She & Stingray were purchased together.
And, she is the closest thing to a roan calf that we've gotten so far (which is one of the only reasons I am supporting Brent's shorthorn habit - I have ALWAYS wanted a roan or white Shorthorn calf). 
 Sandy is hanging out in the monoslope barn right now with the other 3-4 month old calves

Day 15: Red Week - Shorthorns - Stingray

Stingray was a recent purchase from a farmer in Minnesota, so I don't have all her paperwork on her full name, etc.
(However, I just have to say that I think Stingray is a completely ridiculous name for a heifer, so I'm going to call her "Sinnamon" in honor of the fact that she is the same color of one of my show steers in 4-H, named Cinnamon.  But, I do realize that sometimes if you are searching for names, you have to get creative, and if we ever have a Farm Boy, instead of a Farm Girl in charge of naming calves, I'm sure we'll get some interesting names)

Stingray has only been here a few weeks, and is ready to get bred soon.

Day 14: Red Week - Shorthorns - Pixie Dust

Full Name:  Po-Cop Pixie Dust
What we call Her: Pixie Dust
Age:  5 months

Ok, so we are having to diverge down into the heifers to finish out Red Week, but you can't not love the names we have going here with the P's. 

Pixie Dust is getting ready to move up to the next pen of older heifers tommorrow.  We tried moving her a few weeks ago, and although our Milking Shorthorns are big, she is still very small compared to our Holsteins, so I let her stay in the "monoslope" barn with our younger calves for a few weeks. 
However, we have more Shorthorns coming up behind her, so she needs to move!

Day 13: Red Week - Precious

Full Name:  Po-Cop Logic Precious - EXP
What we Call Her:  Precious
Age:  1 year, 11 months
# calves/lactations:  1

Precious & Princess are full sisters, and they couldn't be more different.
Precious also is never a problem, but she is smaller than Princess, has a better udder, and is milking more than some of our Holsteins!
Her daughter, Pocahontas is in the calf barn now.  Our Shorthorn herd is growing rapidly!

Day 12: Red Week - The Shorthorns - Princess

Full Name:  Po-Cop Logic Princess EXP
What we Call Her:  Princess
Age:  2 years, 11 months
# calves/lactations:  2

Princess is the first Shorthorn calf born on the farm.  Let's just say, I'm not overly impressed.....her milk production doesn't exactly set the world on fire, but if she keeps getting pregnant (having heifer calves most of the time too), and remains not a problem with feet or mastitis, she gets to stay. 
Granted, her life as a cow started off rough.  She aborted her 1st calf 2 months early, and she was full of milk, so we milked her anyway as a very young cow, and tried our best to get her bred back again, which was successful, resulting in some of the cows you will meet in the rest of the (elongated) Red Week.

Day 11: Red Week - The "oldest" red cow

Full Name:  Po-Cop Talent Felicity-Red
What we Call Her:  #7009 (or I call her Fanny, which was actually her Mom's name)
Age:  6 years, 9 months
# calves/lactations:  5 (as of last Friday, her heifer calf, Freckles, was born)

#7009 is the oldest of our red cows (and one of the 5 oldest cows on the farm)
She was more than a little camera shy when I tried to take her picture. 
One thing you will notice are the red bands on her rear legs.  That is the signal that she has been treated with antibiotics.  Sometimes cows get sick, and sometimes, antibiotics are what I need to use in order to take the best care of them.  We have a protocol that has been discussed with our veterinarian (and reviewed as conditions change) of how/what/how long/how much to treat our cows when they become sick.  We hadn't actually noticed that #7009 was sick yet, but we just had our cows tested by the milk tester, and the report came back showing that she had a lot of "somatic cells" which is an indicator that she is sick or is becoming sick.  So, we have a paddle in the parlor that allows us to test the milk of the cows to determine which of the 4 quarters is the problem.   Turns out, her Left Rear quarter has some problems, and so we have been treating it for the last couple days with an antibiotic that will hopefully get her on the road to recovery.  When we treat a cow, we have to keep her milk out of the food supply, and so we use these red bands as our notice to pull her milk into a separate bucket that gets dumped and not placed with the rest of the milk.  We hope she is back milking into the tank soon! 

Day 10: Red Week - #75

#75 is the last Red Holstein of the week. 

Full Name:  Playtoys Ad Lassie-Red-ET
What we Call Her:  #75
Age:  6 years
# calves/lactations:  4
Lifetime Milk Production:  56,803 pounds or  6,605 gallons

Interesting Info:  I'm actually really surprised that #75 is still in the herd.  We bought her at the Nat'l Red & White Holstein sale in Belvidere a few years ago, mainly as a companion for another cow that we had already bought.  The other cow went back to "Roxy", the Queen of the Holstein Breed (I make fun of the fact that at an auction the auctioneer may use the term "Straight Back to Roxy", even if it 6 or 7 generations back.  It's a running joke between Brent & I).  Let's say our Roxy was a mess and is no longer with us (frozen teats is the reason why we didn't have anything else calving during that time period in late December), but we thought that she needed a "friend" in the maternity pen, so we bought #75 cheap later in the sale.  She didn't milk anything for several lactations, but she always got bred the 1st time, never had mastistis, or gave us any problems (though she really needs her hooves trimmed), and she has finally grown up - milking over 80# on the last milk test.  I have no doubt that she'll be aiming for "Oldest Cow" very soon. 

Day 9: Red Week - #9028

Full name:  Po-Cop Advntg Igeria-Red-TW
What We Call Her:  #9028 (or I call her Big Red, but she is no where near as big as her mom)
Age:  4 years, 2 months
# calves/lacations:  3
Lifetime Milk Production:  42,642 pounds or 4,958 gallons

Interesting Info:
9028 is out of "Big Red" another cow that Brent bought when he came home to farm.  She is a red Holstein.  She's an early bird - she usually comes in the first group or two of cows in the morning.

Day 8: Red Week - #9032

Yes, we generally have Holstein cows (the black and white kind), but Holsteins do have a recessive gene for red coat color, so if you breed 2 red cows, or red carrier cows together, you can get Red Holsteins, so we have a few of those.  We also have a few Milking Shorthorn cows.  Let's start "Red Week" with I think Brent's favorite cow.....#9032.
This is what he had to say about her in June on his Facebook page:
"Our cow 9032 named Daisy Dukes was ranked 7th in the Milking Shorthorn breed in April based on her genetic potential for milk and conformation. She is scored 86 point second lactation, had two milk tests over 130 lbs or 15 gallons of milk and is due in September with Mudslinger twin heifer calves. We love our good cows."

Photo: Our cow 9032 named Daisy Dukes was ranked 7th in the Milking Shorthorn breed in April based on her genetic potential for milk and conformation. She is scored 86 point second lactation, had two milk tests over 130 lbs or 15 gallons of milk and is due in September with Mudslinger twin heifer calves. We love our good cows.

Full Name:  GE Po-Cop Famous Daisy Dukes
What we Call Her:  #9032
Age:  4 years, 1 month
# calves/lactations:3/4 (a set of twin heifers you'll meet later this week)
Lifetime Milk Production:  54,742 pounds or 6365 gallons

She milks a lot and has heifer calves - she's makes the "good list" in my book!

Day 7: Slowest Cow

Ok, so this is not an "-est" that we enjoy on the farm.  This is the slowest milking cow on the farm.  #11009 is a close 2nd, but I think #7035 wins.

She takes FOREVER to milk out, but over her time, she has produced a lot of milk, and she is fairly easy to work with, so we simply sort her to the front of the line & put her milker on early to give her extra time.
You see, we have a parlor (one thing of which is really nice on our farm, and I am VERY thankful for).  We have what is called a "Single-12 Parallel" that means we have 12 stalls on one-side (Single 12) & that we attach the milker to the cow between her back legs (Parallel).  Some farmers put them on from the side, in front of the back legs, and this is known as a herringbone parlor.
However, because we milk in groups of 12, when we have one slow cow, we have TWELVE slow cows, and it really slows down our milking.  (hence the whole sorting & early or "double" milking thing.....

Full Name:  Po-Cop T-Hawk Demi
What we Call Her:  #7035
Age:  6 years
# calves/lactations:  4

She goes back to a group of cows Brent bought at a sale in Wisconsin when he came home to farm.  (For those dairy people that might read this, Yes - her dam was an Eland)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day #6: Highest Milk Production (part 3) - Lifetime

Ok, so we are continuing to work on milk, well because it's pretty darn important to a dairy farmer!
The cow with the highest Lifetime Milk Production is.....#864

You've met her before......

That's why she gets to stay around, and she is pregnant with another heifer calf....

Day #5: Highest Milk Production (part 2)

See, there are several ways to think about "Highest Milk Production", and that is good because I am running out of my "-est" for the week!
Today's High Milk Production is for the highest single 305 d lactation.
You see if a cow does what is typical in Mother Nature, and have a calf every spring, and would wean that calf off a couple of months or so before she calves the following spring, she would lactate for ~300 days (274 day gestation period, plus ~ 1 month after she calves before she would get pregnant again = 300 days of lactation; plus ~2 months after she weans her calf before she has the next one = 360 days or one year).
So, our testing/records program figures a 305 day lactation #, and the winner is:#11069 @ 30,330 lbs or 3526 gallons, which equates to 99#/day of her lactation (or 11.6 gallons per day) - Enough math for you!

Full Name:  Mi-Mi Laramee 605-09
What We Call Her:  #11069
Age: 4 years, 3 months
# calves/lactations: 2 (well, she started #3 on Friday morning)
Lifetime Milk Production: 55,879 pounds or 6498 gallons

Interesting Info:
We bought #11069, along with 11009 from our neighbor's, the Mitchell's, when we bought the new barn to get it up to capacity more quickly.  I think we could say we are pretty happy with our purchases!

Day #4: Highest Milk Production (part 1)

We, like most other dairy farmers, pay a company to test our cows every month to know how much milk they are producing, as well as how much fat & protein is in that milk.  It helps us keep an eye on changes that we may not have picked up in general day to day care & milking, and allows us to see how the cows are doing.

Last month's high test cow @ 123 pounds (14.3 gallons) per day was 8013.

Full Name:  Po-Cop LuckyStar Vodka
We Call Her: 8013
Age: 5 years, 5 months
# Calves/Lactations: 4
Lifetime Milk Production: 87,245 pounds or 10,145 gallons

Interesting info:
Not much.  She is a good milk cow.  She doesn't have any problems (mastitis, feet, etc.).  She comes in, gives milk, eats, sleeps, and drinks - she must appreciate all we do for her, and we appreciate that.  She does got back to a really nice cow of ours that died suddenly in a heat wave shortly after Brent & I got married.  She had serious "attitude", but her daughter is pretty even keel.  We are really looking forward to several more lactations from this girl!

Day 3: Tallest Cow #11009

Full Name:  Mi-Mi something or rather (Hmmm....can't seem to find that registration paper)
What We Call Her:  #11009 or "Tall Girl"
Age:  5 years, 3 months
# Calves/Lactations:  3
Milk Production to Date:  47,432 pounds, 5,515 gallons

We bought 11009 in a group of cows from our neighbor when we built the new barn 2 years ago.You'll meet more of them in the 30 days, and that's great, because we only bought 15 cows, and most of them are still with us!
She is so unbelievably tall that I am surprised that she fits in a lot of places (like the hoof trimming chute, or even or stalls), but she does.  She sticks up nearly 3-4" above the next tallest cow.  She also ranks as one of the slowest cows on the farm, but not THE slowest - you'll meet her later....


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 2: The Oldest Cow - #864

Full Name:  Po-Cop O1 Buttercup 864
What we Call Her:  864
Age:  8 years, 6 months
# Calves/Lactations:  6
Lifetime Milk Production:  140,301 pounds, 16,314 gallons

I am many times asked how old cows live to be, and our goal is somewhere between 8 & 9 years old, so that those cows will have at least 6 lactations, and produce over 150,000 pounds of milk.  864 is close to that, and hopefully, will make it there; however, like anyone that gets older, her legs/hips/knees/ankles are starting to wear out (you can even see a bit of gray hair starting to show up on her neck), but we keep wrapping and tending to her the best we can, and doing what we need in order to try to keep her a productive member of the herd.
She is a decendent of one of the "orange" cows that we bought in Wisconsin at a sale when Brent came home to farm.  They simply had orange tags, but their daughter turned out to be a pretty good cow!

Day 1: Highest Scored: Lucke


This begins the week of "-est" on the farm.  First up, is our highest scored cow.  

Full Name:  Luck-E-JK Outside Thunder
We Call Her:  Lucke 
Age: 8 years old, 1 month
# of Calves/Lactations: 7 calves/5 lactations - 2 sets of twins
Lifetime Milk Production: 102,697 pounds or 11,933 gallons

We bought Lucke at a sale in 2008.  We didn't go expecting to buy her, but when she sold she was stuck at a really low bid, and so we jumped in.  She scored EX-90 a few years ago at our farm, only the 3rd cow to ever do so.  She has had 2 sets of twins, and she is aptly named "Lucky" because she is still with us, despite more than her share of issues after those twins.  

She just calved again in October, and we are really excited about her heifer calf, Luxury.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Back with a Theme - 30 Days of COWS!

Ok, so since Ainsley got tall enuf to reach the keyboard & mouse; blogging (or anything computer related) came to pretty much a screeching halt, but we are back with a theme to join in on the 30 days of blogging in November.
What else would we talk about besides.....COWS!

Their quirks, interesting stories, all the things that make them individuals and let us identify them from the "business" end.  I once read an editorial about a new dairy that was being built in a neighboring county.  It was a "factory farm" according to the writers and the cows were nothing but "robots with interchangeable parts".  I've used this statement many times to tell consumers that if they are robots with interchangeable parts, I would LOVE to know where the parts store is, as I would be a frequent customer (for some reason rear feet seem to be the issue of the week).  If I could just replace the cows, it would be easy, it would make it easy to just go to bed and not haul feed and water to Jelly who survived a bout of milk fever last week to be in the barn again for her 4th lactation or Lucke who seems to have a catastrophe every time she calves, but somehow, with a lot of TLC comes out of it.  But, we can't just go out and replace them.  It takes a lot of time, money, and blood, sweat & tears to get these cows in to the milking herd.  It takes years of genetics and decisions and work to get them to this point.  The farmers in South Dakota are realizing that you can't just go out & buy cows to replace ones lost in the Atlas Blizzard, and it is the same with our herd.  And there are cows without names, just #'s, and they are no less important to our farm.  In fact, they are usually the ones that make the milk that pays the bills, and just go about their business without all the fuss.  Our farm has 98 cows on it right now, along with about that many heifers and calves.  I'm going to profile 30 of them - their full name, what we call them, their age and # of calves, info on how much milk they give, and anything interesting about them.  If our farm had 3,000 cows, I'd be able to profile cows for 365 days without thinking too hard.  I made my list up in the parlor tonite, and since it is still November 1 - this counts for starting.
Meet the herd @ Po-Cop Dairy!

Day 1:  The Highest Scored Cow - Lucke
Day 2:  The Oldest Cow - #864

Join in with other bloggers on My Generation

Friday, May 31, 2013

Hurry Up & Wait....

And then run like mad.....

And then wait again.  And then, try to run, but breakdown, and then run like mad, get "just bout done", get soaking wet, and then wait again.  This has been the story of our Memorial Day weekend/week.

The alfalfa is planted (this should have been done way back in early April, but didn't get done until mid-May due to the late spring).
The corn & beans are planted.  This went fairly smoothly, and most are out of the ground already.

Now, its time to do hay, but the weather is not cooperating.  Haylage (anything with "-lage" just virtually means chopped up, so in this case chopped up hay) makes up almost 40% of our ration that we feed to our cows, so it is pretty important to get this done in a timely fashion.  Luckily, we still have haylage from last year, so our cows have plenty to eat, but everyday we wait to get the new crop in, the poorer quality it is.  You see, hay is not just hay.  We test our haylage frequently throughout the year to see what nutrients are available for the cows.  Brent and our nutritionist run this info through a computer program to tell us what nutrients we are missing, and then our feed company makes a custom supplement that we add to the total mixed feed ration (TMR) to make sure our cows have all the necessary nutrients.  If our haylage is better quality, containing more nutrients, we need less of, and less expensive supplement.  This is good for us financially, and good for the cows in that they get to eat the "real thing" instead of synthetic.  There has been lots of research done on the optimal time to harvest alfalfa, and that is when the the quality, which deteriorates as the crop grows, meets the quantity necessary to make it worthwhile to harvest and regrow another crop.  This is usually just as/before the plant starts to bud.
   Chopping alfalfa for haylage is a process that requires 2-3 days of dry weather.  We thought we had this necessary break last Friday thru Sunday.  So, we mowed the hay Friday morning, but alas, Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday turned out to be cool, and while not exactly wet, not exactly dry either.  Some light rain came & answered the question for sure Sunday night that we wouldn't be chopping on Monday.  And, so the hay sat, and sat, and sat.  This isn't good for the hay itself, which is sitting outside losing nutrients, nor is it good for the next crop of hay where the pile of hay is laying on top of it in the field, waiting to dry.
  Some wind and heat came along Tues & Wed.  Wednesday at noon I got a text from Brent, "We are chopping today".  WHAT!  Shocked, I scrambled home early.  Gail & I milked cows, while Warren & Brent chopped.  Then Grandma sat with Ainsley while I helped haul in.  Around 10 pm, we called it quits,

 Brent finishes packing the last load with the skidloader in the dark

but with a 70% chance of rain that night, we made sure to cover the bunker with plastic to prevent it getting wet. 
If you ever want it to rain - bait it - mow hay, leave feed bin lids open (this was done a LOT last summer in hopes of rain).  If you don't want it to rain - prepare - cover piles of hay, etc.  So, of course, we awoke to no rain on Thursday morning - while we were glad, we were a little annoyed that we went to the extra work of covering things, just to uncover it again the next morning. 
Brent & Warren finished chopping the 1st field, raked and started on the 2nd.  I came home at 1, changed, and was about to jump on the tractor when I noticed there were too many tractors in the barnyard.  The chopper tractor was backed up to the shop; uh-oh.  What was thought to be a simple fix was not, and required a trip for parts, and didn't get back up & going until milking time.  So again, Gail & I milked cows while Warren & Brent chopped.  As we watched the storm that missed us the night before get closer & closer, we all went fast & faster.  3 loads of hay were still in the wagons as the skies opened up and started to pour.  The bunker got covered as fast as we could, so hopefully, we saved as many nutrients as possible for our cows for the next year.  There are still another 25 acres of hay to go yet just for 1st crop, so let's hope we can get a real 3 days of dry weather in succession in order to finish this up, with a little less waiting and wondering - it's rains havoc on scheduling. 

And, while we are thinking about - please be careful with equipment on the road!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What's For Dinner...I Say Beeeeeeef

Brent uses this (a lot) to entertain Ainsley, and that's been necessary as we have all been spending nights out in the barn milking.  Thank goodness for a solid week of good weather, allowing us to get almost everything planted.  However, it's left us pretty tuckered out, and not a lot of time to make supper.  Enter in one of the kitchen's most wonderful inventions - the crockpot.
I was asked to write about different cuts of meat, and how they are getting a new labeling system for Illinois Farm Families.  Overall, if its from the loin - grill it; if it's from the shoulder or rump - low & slow, and these short ribs also fall into "low & slow", as they have lots of bone and some fat on them.  It's a pretty easy meal to come back to at the end of a long day and get an actual meal to keep you going during these long weeks.
Korean-Style Short Ribs
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. light brown sugar
2 T sesame oil
2 T rice vinegar
2 T fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (I only use a pinch)
5# beef short ribs
1 1/2 c. shredded carrots
For garnish:  sesame seeds & green onions
Serve over rice

Blend 1st 7 ingredients to make sauce.  Place ribs in slow cooker, and pour sauce over.  Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 9 hours, or until meat will start to fall off the bones.  Skim & discard any fat from the sauce, and pour the liquid into a saucepan.  Add 3 T cornstarch & 3 T water, and bring to boil for 2 minutes to thicken  Stir in carrots.  Serve over rice, add ribs, cover with sauce & garnish as desired.

We enjoy it!
Photo: What's for dinner, I say beef

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Da-Licious Pork Goodness

I spent the last two Saturdays in the Chicagoland area, helping promote ground pork to customers at Dominick's stores.  Many people gave me a "A What?  What's a "porkburger"?.  I've never heard of ground pork.  When you grow up on a hog farm, you never think of something like that.  Of course there is always ground pork in the freezer....seriously, you've never even heard of it?

It typically only finds its way into recipes like Ham Balls or meatloaf, but ground pork is a very versatile meat that can be used in most any recipe in the place of ground beef (or, something I have never tried, but I saw a lot of in shopping carts, ground chicken or turkey).  In honor of two weekends spent mastering the interstate tollways (which on a Saturday morning were really not that bad, or I'm just finally getting used to it), here is another great ground pork recipe.
Go to to get your $1 off coupon!

Teriyaki Pork Sliders
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 scallions, cut-up
2 t. ginger
1 lb. ground pork
1/4 c. teriyaki sauce
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. mayo
1/4 t. sugar
1 t. teriyaki sauce
1 pkg. Hawaiian rolls

Directions:  Combine 1st 6 ingredients & form into sliders.  Cook using broiler, saute pan, or grill.  Heat rolls.  Make seasoned mayo by combining sugar, mayo & 1 t. teriyaki sauce.  Garnish sliders with seasoned mayo & additional scallions.
Ground Pork is sold in most stores today.  If you don't see it, ask for it!

Sorry, I haven't made them in awhile (hmmm...inspiration), so you'll have to make do with the pic from the recipe, but they really do turn out looking this good too!

Another thing that struck me is that I am truly blessed to have access to all the protein I might want.  I came to realize after about the fourth person who told me their "freezer was full", that probably all most people have is the top of the frig type freezer, and not an entire deep freeze full of beef & pork in the garage.  While inspiration may not always come to me, there is always protein in the freezer to make a healthy, delicious supper for my family....speaking of which......

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tag - You're It!

Recently, we feel like we are playing a big game of tag, especially on the weekends.  My roommates in college and I used to have a saying, "Ready, Set....NAP!", as we were 4 pretty busy people, and so when we got a chance (say from 12:30-12:40 after lunch and before we had to leave for a 1 o'clock class) to get a quick power nap in, we took it.  We'd set the egg timer, turn the lights off, and curl up on different corners of the bunk beds. 
At our house, we're finally getting some kind of a schedule; a reliable 8+ hours of sleep, and usually a decent afternoon nap.  We measure naptime not necessarily in hours, but in how many cows' feet can we get fixed, or how many heifers we can get rearranged.  We've learned that if there is something to be done, you need to be semi-organized and ready to hit the door as soon as she goes down, so that you have maximum time outside to accomplish tasks. 
Last weekend felt like a big game of tag as Gail was gone with the Holstein juniors for their Spring Thing event.  Gail has been coaching dairy bowl for a LONG time, which is to say that she has forgotten more random Holstein dairy facts than many of us will ever know (trust me, her son is absolutely brimming with these little tidbits)!  So, this is the weekend that the local kids actually got to compete against kids from around the state.  That also meant, the calf caretaker was gone, and we had to fill in.  Brent & I seemed to go back and forth from the house to take turns with Ainsley and get the chores done in between.  By Sunday morning I finally felt like I had a system down (and had remembered how to get up early enough so that I could get everything done before somebody woke up).  
 But, she's always SO happy when she wakes up!

I really have lots of good posts saved up, so you'll get a few when the year's meetings come to a close, and I quit going to bed with stories of pig closeouts in my head!  Here's hoping that the white Shorthorn heifer that Brent has been promising me arrives soon (but really not tonite - I'm not sure what equipment I'd have to dig out from the snow to get her moved).
In the meantime, let's think spring!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Great Valentine's Day

No suprises, no fancy supper, no jewelry or flowers.  We've never been that type, and that's just fine by me.  I'm perfectly happy that when I found a newborn heifer calf late at night, that you would climb out of bed, put on your Carhartt's, and meet me in the barn for drying off, bedding in, vaccinating, and getting colostrum to a newborn calf.

Lots of things are different from when we were in college:

-I never thought in a million years that I would own my own pair of white jeans.
-I never knew Brent could be such a good pig snarer.

And, many things haven't:
- We can be ready to leave the house in 10 minutes
- Farming, and specifically livestock, is who we are & what we do
 And, a Valentine's gift of helping save a calf, is a perfect gift!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


So, 30 days of blogging in November wore me out, and December was filled with some pretty serious colds for all of us (thankfully, Ainsley's was minimal & short-lived).  However, back to a New Year with new stuff on the farm & in life.
As I slowly work to take down the Christmas decorations, I am reminded all of the traditions & history that go with some of the decorations.  Two, in particular, are special to me in our house. 

 This is my generational stocking.  Grandma made one from each grandchild, and it incorporates things from multiple generations.  Mine is made out of a velveteen vest that my mom wore, and is decorated with trimmings and lace from a great-great aunt?  (I even called Grandma to confirm this tonite, and I think I'm off a great or two yet-oh, well - It's the thought that counts).  My brother's is made out of the jacket from my grandmother's wedding dress, and has pieces of lace from my mom's wedding dress.  Ainsley's is still a work in progress, but thus far is made out of my mom's blue pigskin jacket, trimmed with material from my 4-H sewing project, and several other objects, some yet to be determined.  I've got a LONG ways to go before I have to make these, but I even looked at my old high school letter jacket in the closet when I was home, and went "hmm....."

Another favorite in my house is the "Moving the Bear" on the Christmas countdown calendar.  This was something my brother & I fought over whose turn it was to move the bear, and I swiped it from my parent's house a few years ago so I could have it here.  Brent learned in no uncertain terms that he was not allowed to move the bear.  This year, Ainsley & I moved the bear everyday when we got home from the sitters, and hopefully she'll enjoy moving it over the years.

Traditions are important....traditions are the stuff memories are made of.  Cows don't always cooperate with traditions.  I was able to go to Christmas Eve service for the first time in close to 10 years (4:30 & 11 pm services don't exactly jive with a milking schedule at 5 PM & 6 AM) this year, and thoroughly enjoyed it; though I did forego the candle lighting.....holding a squirmy 3 month old & hot wax don't mix!  When we were supposed to leave for a family Christmas; Brent went out to feed cows.  He came in about an hour later with a "I have no idea when we'll be able to leave - the chain broke on the silo unloader, and we have to deal with it now so the silage doesn't freeze in the hole & prevent us from feeding cows till it thaws".  (Thankfully, Warren & Brent got the hole cleared in good time)
Some traditions I could live without.....