Monday, March 19, 2018

So after 2 plus years, I am making the time to write a little on our blog.  I would like to say it's because I've not had time, which is mostly true. but it's also about not making the time. I'm hoping to become a little more regular in my writing.
Kids are growing, and calves are becoming cows and spring is a day away! I wish I could say our dairy is thriving, but these are tough days we are living in right now and hope they pass quickly. Perhaps the biggest change on our farm is the arrival of Geronimo, our great pyranees puppy.
 He's cute, right? This was just days after we got him back in November. When he was shy and quiet and wouldn't come out of his kennel. Now he runs the farm. We had our last dog for over 13 years so getting a new one that fit us was a challenge. Since it had been so long, I had forgotten some of the puppy stage. Well, I remembered most of it. Like they chew on everything, poop in the yard, bad manners.... I think it's a little like childbirth, you forget the pain of it because you'd never have more if you remembered. This is Mo. At this point, I don't know which one of us will win. It's not looking good for me, as I've given up (for now) and just leave whatever he's drug into the yard alone. He chews on everything. EVERYTHING! Tree limbs, not sticks but limbs, are in various places. He unplugs things, like tank heaters. (which in the middle of winter is not good). And the seats on kids' bikes? The cover, the cushion, gone, one he even has off the bike. And don't take off your gloves. I'm thinking he is right pawed, because I am missing at least 4 and they are all right hands. Brush from push broom, calf record tablet, water tub, boots, toys, and yes, the unavoidable dead raccoon have made it to my yard. Thankfully, he moved the coon. Probably hid it somewhere to bring out the next time we have company. Just today, he drug the 2 gallon jug of fly spray out. And he is just nice enough to dig some holes in the grass for the cats to use as port-a-potties. His favorite item to drag around, though, is an orange cat. I feel bad for this cat, as I've tried all I can think of to make Mo leave him alone. But short of a housecat, nothing works. (and there will be NO housecat)
     This photo is recent. Still cute, right? In spite of the naughty things he does, he's still a pretty good dog. He gets along with the kids, except Henry. I'm pretty sure he'd like to drag him around like the orange cat. He's just too friendly and playful for him right now.   But there is nothing like seeing your kids bend over and grab his big, fluffy face and talk to him and know they are friends for life. And you know, Geronimo is pretty lucky to have this many humans to love him.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

    Fairs, Friends, and Fall

      Is it Fall all ready? Where did the rest of summer go? I think of writing a  new post almost everyday and never get to it. Some of you may wonder where I have been, what have I been doing?  I will try a brief recap of the end of summer's and beginning of fall's events. 
     When last I wrote, it was with the big news of a baby coming.  Yes baby is still coming, and soon, as I have begun my own countdown.  That and the feeling of beached whale-dom that I seem to have.  I felt in my own mind I was doing "ok" but even my husband remarked I was "slowing down" a bit. Pregnancy has been uneventful in a good way.  Aside from the gestational diabetes that had baby too big at one point, we are good now. To the point of losing some pounds but still healthy.
     County fair came and went with all 5 kids showing animals.  Garrett showed dairy cows and dairy goats.  He has made much improvement from last year. We could see real growth in him. The quads all showed as clover kids for the last year.  I love that my kids love animals and want to show.  Next year we look forward to all being in 4H.

Next up was the start of school. Garrett officially began a year in which his math confuses me to a point I trust his homework is good.  Or otherwise known as 5th grade.  Grant, Olivia, Ben, and Alex are in 3rd.(I can still do their math)
Shortly after this, state fair arrived. This is one of our favorite times of year. Some may call it a vacation, but really we work harder than if we were at home.  We love seeing old friends that only state fair brings around plus meeting new friends who visit us in the dairy barn.

Our milking shorthorn, Hershey, received the honor of Reserve Supreme Champion. We decided to pursue a dream from last year of attending World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI. Hershey was shown there as well. While she did not win, was 12th out of 16 in her class, it's easy to say there are no bad animals there! They are all top notch, beautiful and to show with them was huge.  It was so encouraging to see so many people in the dairy industry in one place.  Sometimes  a person needs that validation that he is not alone in this profession.
I hope you all enjoy this recap, even if it is a bit long.  Stay tuned for next time, perhaps it will be a baby post!    

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Unexpected Expansion

      As this is a blog about our life on our dairy, you probably think we are building some wonderful new structure for our cows to live comfortably in.  While we have done some new lots to accommodate our heifers, that is not what this is about. 
It's not the best photo, but as the tech stated, "he" was bouncing all over and this was all she could get.  No, we do not know it is a he.  We are probably one of the few who choose to be surprised on delivery day.  Olivia wants to know the worst, she is praying for a girl, of course. 
      I was done having babies.  Or so I thought.  Jason always wanted one more as he wanted 6.  I wanted 4, so 5 was a good compromise.  For almost 8 years this worked.  Then one time, I was "late".   Thinking that maybe I was of the age where things are changing, Jason laughed when I said I was going to waste his money on a pregnancy test.  Little did we know what that result would be!
     A little background on us, or me I should say is this:  in the past, we have not had good luck when it comes to pregnancy, especially in the early months and really especially when not knowing.  So to find this out, was a little sad as we thought we knew what the outcome would be.  We had 3 miscarriages prior to our first experience with fertility drugs.  Garrett was this first result.  A couple years later, we tried fertility again with another miscarriage and then a pregnancy with 7 babies.  We miscarried 3 and ended with our healthy quads, Grant, Olivia, Ben, and Alex.
     We have been very cautious from the beginning, trying not to get excited, or too happy.  Yes, after the initial shock, we can be happy for this not in our plans blessing. We are currently 18 and half weeks along with a due date in November.  Baby looks good on ultrasound, measuring just where it needs to be.  We are monitoring me because of my "advanced maternal age".  My doctor says after quads, one will be easy.  Well, carrying quads was not all that difficult for me so this should be a breeze, right? My hardest part is the heat of summer.  And continuing  with chores here on our dairy.  The doctor said it's good to stay active during pregnancy.  Well, I'm sure that will happen as it's summer and fairs will be here before we know it.
  I will end with a word of advice, never say never.  I have said this a couple of times.  The first was when I was 18 and my family quit milking cows, I said I would never milk another cow again, and God laughed!  Another was after having the quads, I said I would never have another baby.  God smiled because He knew His plans were not mine.  So if you are the praying kind, say some prayers for me and this baby, we will need them.      

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My What is it Wednesday got pushed a day late this post.  Really, though, wasn't it worth it?  To many of you, this looks like some cute little jersey calves.  If you look closer at the ear tags, you will notice an A and a B.  This means they are twins.  They were born yesterday about noon.  Mama cow was in active labor for a good hour and a half before Jason got concerned and went in to feel around.  Normally, our vet tells us at preg check who has twins.  These little girls were unexpected.  He came back with 4 feet and one head near the exit.  So after a little maneuvering, he got the front feet and pulled when she pushed and "A" was born. While I was getting her to breathing and shaking her head, he went in for the 2nd heifer.  Following the same steps, "B" was born.  They were a bit small, but that's normal for twins.  Both are doing well today, drinking and bothering the other 2 calves that are with them. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I've decided to try something new.  At least for me it is new.  I am hoping to do a short post, perhaps every other Wednesday, called:  "What is it Wednesday?"  I am hoping to create a post to get more feedback.  So if you are in the ag industry and know, great.  If not, I hope to enlighten you on things that are going on at our farm. The above photo is the one I selected first.  This is what the ground looks like after the hoof trimmer has visited.  All those shavings are actually the cows' toenails.  We like to say they are having a manicure, but it really is a simple process of cutting and shaping the cow's hoof.  If there are heal warts, we apply medicine for healing and then wrap that hoof.  If foot rot is present, an antibiotic that is safe is given.  If an absess is noted, foot is blocked on the good half to help sore side heal and then wrapped.  We all know what having sore feet feels like.  My husband even has new empathy for those with an absess as a year ago he got one on his foot and felt the pain!  Keeping ours ladies' feet healthy is just one thing we do for them.

Friday, January 30, 2015

     I try to be a positive ag-vocate for the dairy industry.  I admit, it is sometimes hard to be proud of what you do, how you make your living, when some people think what you do is cruel and serves no purpose.  This week, there was a dairy industry take-over of the social media sites.  Meaning, dairy farmers and those involved with dairy, signed up to participate and spread the good word on Milk.  We remained positive in our approach, not tearing down other products or people but simply stating the positive facts about milk.  Hopefully lots of conversations were started and questions asked and answered.
     However, the day after this, an article showed up on my facebook feed from someone else, stating how milk does not do a body good.  It only takes one headline to bring all the positive down.  When you are passionate about something, when another bashes it, it really deflates you.  Responses to this article were along the lines of how we "force feed" our cows corn because it is cheap, they are not allowed to roam, and we feed them rotten feed.  I just want to scream, "if you only knew!" 
     Lets put the milk on the side for now.  On our animals.  Yes they are animals, just like your favorite cat or dog, an animal.  On the topic of force feeding.  I don't know how anyone would force feed a 1200lb animal.  If she is not willing, she won't eat.  On the rotten feed:  yes some hay or silage or corn may get in that is not 100% awesome.  But, if feeding rotten feed was a common practice, we would have sick cows that gave no milk.  They would lose babies if they would even cycle and got bred. We do not want sick cows, we want healthy cows.  We have a vet that is here at least once a month to check cows and calves.  We have a nutritionist that figures the very best ration for feed for the very best healthy cows.  I have never seen a "drunk" cow from fermented feed.  She may have a gut ache, or diarrhea, but not wobbly.  If she seems off-balance, there is something else wrong for which she will be given a supplement to help her stabilize.  Corn is not a cheap food to feed, look at the markets.  Much of our income each  month is devoted to corn alone.  That's not counting the hay, haylage, corn silage, mineral, soybean meal, and feed pellets.
cows eating of their own free will.

     And last but not least, is the terrible conditions we supposedly lock them up in.  The cows honestly don't seem to care.  For the better part of the year, there is grass, alfalfa, and corn 20 ft. away from our cows.  They are kept in by a single strand of  wire.  Our cows are allowed to go out on dirt if it is dry.  I hear numerous times, bring your pets in when it is cold. Several commercials are dedicated to that statement.  Now when we as dairy farmers provide a dry, warm shelter, we are cruel.  How can it work for one set of animals and not the other?  And to add to that, cows are made for cold weather.  They increase hair and fat for better insulation.  Not many, if any, cows and calves would survive a cold, harsh, northern winter without shelter.  So if they were allowed to roam free, they would likely be dead. 
     Every farmer will tell you they have a favorite animal.  One that may be friendlier, or has overcome illness, or even one with a face only a mother would love.  We have those.  It doesn't mean the others don't count.  They all matter.  We provide the same care for all of them.  There are the groups who stand by and let an animal get abused just for the sake of a video.  What does that say about them?  I, for one could not stand by.  It makes me sick.  Every profession has people working in it that give it a bad name.  Police, lawyers, doctors, preachers, and even parents.  The majority of all these people are good, honest, hardworking people, but some will still judge on the actions of a very few.
Alex and his heifer, Josey.

     To close, I stand by the dairy industry, no matter how difficult it maybe at times. It is our life and our way of life.  It is how we teach our kids to work hard.  They are taught life and death and how to love and respect our cows.  They are taught to take pride in their animals and treat them well, then they will treat you well.  It's not always about winning, but how you run the race. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hello, all people.  I am 5003, actually that is my mom's number, I will get my own when I'm a little older, around 3 months.  I was born on a very cold January 6, 2015.  This is how I looked shortly after birth:
I was cold and wet.  Thankfully, my farmers were on the look out for me and took me and my mom to the warmer calving barn.  Mom got a drink of vitamins before going out with the other milk cows and I went to the calf warmer where I dried off and stayed nice and warm.  My new mom, aka Jodi, fed me a bottle of delicious, warm colostrum and I was happy. 

I spent 2 days in there being warm when it was so cold outside.  After that, I was moved to my own hutch and got a warm red jacket on.  Jodi kept me locked in for another couple days to prevent the south wind from getting in and making me sick.
This is my first day out in the warm sun.  I really don't want to leave my hutch but the sand is tempting so out I go to jump around and get some fresh air.
     5003  will be in the hutch for 8 weeks.  During this time she will get fed 4 pints of milk, twice a day for 6 weeks.  She will have complete access to grain and water.  After 6 weeks she will begin to get weaned and lessen her milk to 4 pints once a day.  At week 7, she is done with milk and completely on grain and water.  Stay tuned for her next adventures.  See you soon!