Sunday, December 28, 2014

A HOLLY Jolly Christmas

        We have had a wonderful Christmas full with family fun and good memories. We are all feeling filled to overflowing with good food and sweet times. Here are some cute Santa picks of us.
Husband and I with Santa

         There were some very good kids in our house this year and Santa pulled out all the stops and brought them a new puppy. Santa picked out a very sweet cattle dog who will love being on our farm. Her name is Holly and she is so sweet and soft. She is our first family dog and the kids are already in love.
         Christmas day was beautiful here with temps right at freezing. We took Holly for a walk in the cattle pasture attached to our house to show her around and burn off some of the sugar from the morning. She loved running around and watching the kids. So cute.

A girl and her dog

        I hope Holly has many more fun and productive days on the farm. For now we are enjoying all her energy. This is a Christmas we will forever remember and hope you all had a wonderful holly jolly Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Down Time

       After the rush of harvest is over and the snow starts to cover the ground life on the farm starts to take a little slower pace. There are still daily chores to fill the days but there is also a little more down time to enjoy family. Here is what we have been up to for the last month.
    On November 22, Paul and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. On that same day we were able to compete in an Excellence in Ag Competition through Farm Bureau at the state level. We were honored to win this competition which showcases individuals who promote and support agriculture. Since winning at state we have been working hard on our application and presentation preparing it for the National competition which will be in San Diego CA the beginning of Jan. We are very excited and honored to represent our state and Farm Bureau at this competition. It has been a great learning and growing experience.
        The kids got to spend some great time with cousins during Thanksgiving. Some moments were sweet...
    And others were quite silly
     But the star of the day was the AMAZING turkey that my brother-in-law Bill made. By far the best turkey I have ever had. He has a true gift with turkeys.
      More cousin time
       I also got to spend some time with Paul and reconnect after all the busyness of harvest. Farm wives will tell you that you have to treasure the moments that you get with your farmer because often duties on the farm come before all others.
        Mother nature has been working her magic in this winter wonderland we live in and it has also made me stop for a moment and take in the beauty. This is the trees in one of our pastures after a ice/snow storm we had the other day. I love the seasons on the farm and it is a nice change to slow down a little and enjoy the ones around us. The next busy season is just a few months away and will be here before we know it. Being busy is good by a little down time is also a welcome change.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pregnancy Checking

     The day before Thanksgiving was deemed the time to pregnancy check our cows for the year. It turned out to be a bitter cold day but we tuffed it through and we were happy with the results of the day and to have it done for another year.
     All summer the cows were out in the pasture with the bull getting breed so they will have a calf early next spring. After their time in the pasture we let them out on cornstalks until the snow started to fly. Most years we have a little more temped weather through Thanksgiving and do our annual pregnancy checking during the Thanksgiving break when we have more hands available for helping.
Pregnancy checking is done to see which cows did achieve a pregnancy over the summer. If a cow is found to be "open" or not pregnant they will be fed extra feed and sold to market. The job of the cows on the farm is to produce offspring. It is not productive to keep them for an entire year without a calf and also there many be a reason, like age, that they didn't breed. We were very happy with the fertility of our herd this year. The vet pregnancy checked all 140 of our cows and only 4 were found "open". Those are pretty good odds.
      To perform the pregnancy check the vet has to go behind the animal and stick his hand into the cows rectum. He then fells though the bowel wall for the size of the uterus and can tell if the cow is pregnant. Sometimes he will tell us big calf, or late calf which we note and keep in our records. It is not a glamors job but it does take skill and is vital to beef production.
        Another thing that we did with the cows when we had them in the head gate was put a magnet into their stomach. The magnet is about 3 inches long and will stay in the cows stomach for the rest of their life. This is done to prevent complications from what is call a cow getting "hardware". We feed a lot of ditch hay and there can occasionally be small bits of metal in the feed. The cows can eat this since they don't chew their food very well when they first swallow it and the metal can go through their digestive system and kill them. By placing a magnet in their stomach the metal will attach to the magnet and then stay within the stomach where it will not cause problems.  Getting the magnet into their stomach is not an easy thing. My dad had the job of using a metal tube he placed into the cows mouth and then down the throat. When it was fall enough down the throat he pushed a plunger on the tube and sent the magnet into the cows stomach. As you can imagine the cows don't care for this but once it is done they move along as if nothing happened. As my husband says We now have more "attractive" cows, and they have a "magnetic" personality.

      Another job during pregnancy checking is giving the cows some annual vaccines. This is a good opportunity to give medication because putting every cow into the head gate is a big job and we don't do it very often. We only gave the medication to the pregnant cows because the one that are "open" we will send to market and we don't want the medication in their systems. My bother John was in charge of the med administration.

      Paul got the important and sometimes frustrating job of pushing the cows up into the head gate area. The cows are use to going into the head gate, but they also know that the head gate is where they are given medication and other unpleasant treatments are done.  If a farmer had more time they should put the cows in the head gate on occasion and not perform any unpleasant things to teach the cows that the head gate is not always bad. We always say that we would like to do this but just run out of time. Because the cows associate the head gate with discomfort it is sometimes difficult to get them in. There are some trick that do make the process a little easier and we try to use them as much as possible.
      My job was to record the information and keep the magnets loaded. By the end of the time outside my toes were very cold and tired from being in the cold. I can only imagine how tired the men were. I enjoy being part of these days and helping out. It is exciting to think of all the cute little calves were will have in March/April and it is nice to hear the vet say our cows are in very good condition after just coming in off of grass. The cows are healthy and ready for the winter that has come all to quickly. Good job Girls.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pray Unceasingly

  I had a sad call from a father yesterday inquiring about the Natural Family Planning courses I teach. As we visited and I was explaining how the method works he informed me that his partner was currently pregnant. I asked when the baby was due and he paused and said they are exploring their options. My heart sank. I encouraged him to consider adoption if they felt keeping the child wasn't an option. He said the mother didn't want to go through with the pregnancy and then give the baby away. As we kept talking I could tell that they had already made up their minds on what to do. I asked him how far along she was and he said she was 15 weeks. I let him know that at 13 weeks the baby has a sex and can be seen by ultrasound. He told me they had already seen the abortionist and she had done an ultrasound and they knew it was a healthy baby girl. He said that they had an abortion scheduled for later on this week. I tried to help him see that this child is a living person and doesn't need to die. Before we hung up I told him I would be praying for both of them and the baby. This is what I would like to ask you to do also. Please pray for this little girls life. She is a little light that is in danger of being put out. Jesus please hold her and her parents close to you and help them feel your unconditional love. 
    Padre Pio: A Patron Saint for the Unborn
     The Blessed Mother said to him: “I am entrusting this unborn child to your care and protection.”
   Last night at our family prayer time I told my children about this baby and my daughter Mary decided she wanted to name the baby Joyce. She said this is because when Jesus saves the baby we can all rejoice that her life was sparred. 
      All life is precious and a gift from God   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


   Last weekend my husband and I had the privilege of going to see the amazing Garth Brooks. He has been very gracious putting on a number of concerts for us folks up here in the frozen land of MN. It was a wonderful concert and a memory of a lifetime. Come enjoy and relive the concert with me.
      Our "Friends in Low Places".
 Before the concert and very excited for a number of reason.
1. Out with my husband without kids.
2. Going to see Garth Brooks and sing some great songs!

      Halfway  through the show Trisha Yearwood came out and sang a song with her hubby. Then she let Garth take a rest while she treated us to some of her great songs. What a treat.

 Garth is back.

   And all to soon the concert was done. We Love You GARTH!

One last pic after the concert at 2am in the morning. We were tired and kind of horse but couldn't have been happier. What a concert and great night.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Where has the fall gone?

     I don't know why but it seems fall is the shortest season on the farm. It seem like all of a sudden the crops are putting on their fall colors and the combines go out into the fields. The next thing you know the weather has turned chilly and snow flakes are in the air. It could be all the business of this time of year that makes it fly by, or it could be that here in Minnesota the weather like to go from hot to cold so quickly.
     Looking around I can see that another fall has rushed by and winter is swiftly coming. The fields are all harvested and the ground dug to prepare the soil for it winter rest. The leaves have all fallen from the trees and blanket the ground. The garden produce has been taken in and stored. Winter coats, hats, and mittens are being worn by kids and the forecast promises inches of snow in the next couple days.
        Halloween is always one of those last fall events. The kids and I have fun making costumes and we spend the night going to see all the grandparents and great-grandparent. In the one night we visit both of the kids grandparents and three sets of their great-grandparents.  One of the joys of living in the same area where we were raised. Family is so special.
       We enjoy having group themes for Halloween. This year we did Little Red Ridinghood. Rose was ridinghood, Luke was the little bad wolf, Mary was the grandma, David was the huntsman, and Simon was a scarecrow. They are do cute and each played their parts so well.
       Soon after Halloween my little bad wolf, Luke, turned 1 year old. He is getting so big and always into stuff. He is such a good boy but does have a scream that is going to give me hearing loss.  We had a fun little party for him and he entertained us all showing off his walking skills pushing a new toy he had gotten.

                             Happy Birthday Luke, We Love You.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Waste Not

        Corn harvest 2014 is well underway and in fact it has taken me a little while to get to this that the men are telling me they hope to be done combining corn tomorrow at noon. They have been putting in some long nights and there will still be some midnight oil burned for the next week as they finish up tillage. Corn harvest is a little late this year because the corn has been a little wet and we have been trying to give it as much time as possible to dry in the fields. In order for the corn to store well and not rot in the bins it needs to be at a percise moisture inside the kernel. If the corn is taken out of the field above this moisture it needs to be put through a drying system which heats the corn to remove the extra moisture. This adds costs and take away from the crop profit so if the corn dries in the field it is better. As with many parts of farming we are constantly playing a little guessing game with the weather. We need to watch signs and made wise decisions on how long we feel we can wait to take the crop out. The last thing we want is corn out in snowdrifts.
      The corn that we harvest goes into animal feed, human food, and fuel production. Corn is a vital part of life as we know it. It is grown in all 50 states. Now it might be true that the corn kernels are the most important part of the crop that is taken from the corn fields in the fall but it is not the only part of the plants that we use.
               Once the combine goes through the field it leave behind the corn stalks and husks chopped up and spread out over the field. In most of our fields the corn plants are worked back into the soil. This adds the organic matter back in and increases the fertility of the soil. On some of our fields we use a rake to pile the corn stalks into rows and then use a baler to form the stalks into tight neat bales that will store and transport easily. The corn stalks make excellent bedding for the cattle over the winter and are also added to some of our feed rations as roughage. This year we made over 400 bales in a few short days. It is so beautiful out in the field.

           This time of  year the grass starts to get short and sparse in the pastures. Here we are running home a herd of cows from our back pasture over the harvested bean field. There are always some old 'boss' cows that have done this year after year and can lead the way. Instead of putting all these cows in the yard and use up feed we fenced in a portion of the harvested corn field and let them eat straight out of the field. The cows find the corn the combine missed and eat some of the corn husks and stalks. The cows do such a good job that the next spring there is next to no volunteer corn, corn that comes up in the bean field from corn kernels left on the ground from the previous fall.
        Here you can see the cows in the field behind the kids. They look so happy and peaceful.

        After the corn stalks have been used as bedding for the winter we will load them into the manure spreader and bring them back out to this field and spread them out so that they can be worked back into the soil. As farmer we are very concerned in using all the resources we are given and making sure our land is kept in the best health and production it can. Thinking of new and different ways to increase the efficiency of our farms is what will keep them productive well into the future.