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.