Friday, October 30, 2009
After milking and feeding this morning we moved 2 dry cows out of the formerly dry lot-now muddy lot-to get treated for apparent mud-induced foot injuries. One of the cows has a small rock imbedded in her hoof, much like humans that get ingrown toe nails, and the other has a small infection from the mud in between her toes. We cleaned and treated each cow. While they were technically not "lame" they were showing tenderness on those feet, therefore we act quickly so a small problem that's easy to fix doesn't become a HUGE problem that's hard to treat. I left after treating these cows and Jonathan continued his work. Since it rained, all of the dry cows and heifers needed fresh/dry bedding. He also bedded in the calves in the huts. Keeping our cows and calves dry is very important to keeping them healthy. So the battle continues tomorrow....more mud, but hopefully less rain =)
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
My father-in-law and brother-in-law worked on moving our manure from the calf/heifer barn this morning. I worked on hauling out liquid manure from the cow barn and Jonathan worked on cleaning up the dry cows and heifer lots. All in all, a LOT of fertilizer was moved to the fields today. We will work this fertilizer into the soils to make an awesome bed for next year's crops. A "Fall Cleaning" of manure. We were very excited about the dry weather, sad about the rain today and tomorrow, but looking forward to the forecast for next week....cool and DRY.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I have been reading a few articles on the web about lactose intolerance and how prevalent or not prevalent it is in the world population. Some state that drinking milk into adulthood is unnatural, that humans should stop drinking milk after infantcy. All of the different opinions make the truth very confusing, but I can honestly say that I am not lactose intolerant. If anything, I am a TRUE Milk-a-holic!
Ever since I was a young child, milk has played an important part of my life. Yes, I was raised on a dairy farm, but milk was ALSO an important part of my diet. I knew at a young age how great milk was for my body! After many adventures as a kid, I can honestly say I NEVER had a broken bone, even though I had plenty of injuries. I had milk and cereal before school, milk and cheese at school, and milk and ice cream at home for supper. We used to drink raw whole milk(averaging 3.5-4% fat) at home, from the cows. I don't endorse that practice now, not because it was unsafe, but because pasteurized milk is MORE safe. Nevertheless...I drank milk everyday, and not a small 8 ounce glass, but a big glass, 10 ounces or more each time, at least 3 times a day.
Now as an adult, I find that my body tells me when I haven't had milk. Some people are addicted to caffeine or pop, but I am ADDICTED to MILK! Yes, I sure am! If I don't start my day with milk, I am groggy by noon. If I don't have milk for lunch/dinner, I am craving it by the afternoon. If I don't have milk for supper, I NEED a LARGE glass for a snack before bed! It's crazy but after I have that glass of milk I feel so much better. I often enjoy milk with snacks, but cheese and crackers, yogurts, and yogurt smoothies are some of my favorite "other" snacks.
Our bodies need calcium, and if we listen to our bodies we will fill that need. I read an astonishing/shocking statistic the other day: ONLY 5% of girls and 25% of boys, ages 9-13 get their daily requirement of calcium that they need! How terrible! Kids develop life habits at this age, and by not including milk/dairy in their diets they will surely have issues with osteoporosis and other bone diseases in their futures. How terrible! I can't imagine how awful this truly is. So, please if you have children, make sure that they have 3 servings of dairy each day to fulfill their daily need of Calcium, as well as: Vitamin A & D, Phosphorous, Protein, and Magnesium. Serving sizes are small: 8 ounces of milk, 3 ounces of cheese, or 8 ounces of yogurt. Please, just do it for your kids-they deserve a healthy future with healthy habits! Thanks!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I have AWESOME news tonight! This afternoon, while we were trudging through the mud to feed the dry cows, my father in law came rushing out to the silage bag pad in my mother in law's van...he was so excited! I knew it was good news from the National FFA Convention...and I was right. Steve came to tell us that the Dairy Judging team, which had my youngest sister and Jonathan's little brother (my brother in law) on it....had won 3RD PLACE!!!!! They are the 3rd best dairy judging team in the NATION! To add to our excitement, we found out that Laura placed 3rd overall as an individual, Angela placed 7th, and Chris placed 13th!!!!! These young adults have been working with each other since they were in grade school. They have been judging in 4-H for years, won at the National 4-H Judging contest, earned a trip to Europe-did well there, and now won this contest!
I am so excited for these youth, all 4 active in the dairy industry, each in their own way. They have such bright futures in no matter what they might do. It's amazing to have watched these youth grow and develop into such wonderful young adults in the "vehicle" of the dairy industry. Often children from dairy farms talk about the qualities and traits that they learned from their families and from working on their dairy farms. After watching these kids grow up, I can honestly say that they also learned and lived those qualities. Qualities of leadership, responsibility, respect, determination, honesty, hard work ethic, teamwork, and so many more! Congratulations Laura, Angie, Chris and Shawn! Your hard work and determination has paid off!!!! Congrats for a JOB WELL DONE!!!!!!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Excellent interview with Mike Rowe about agriculture and his speech at the 2009 National FFA Convention!!!!
P.S. Sending positive thoughts to the Sleepy Eye FFA who competed today, representing Minnesota, in the Dairy Judging Competition! Hoping for good news tomorrow!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In addition to slowing harvest, we are also postponing some critical fall activities. After combining our soybeans and corn, we return to the fields to harvest the foliage from those plants. We bale the dry soybean plants into round bales for bedding for our heifers. We bale the remaining soybean plants in small square bales to be chopped in the calf barn-making for happy, comfy, dry calves =) We chop the dry corn plants and make them into large stacks. We will take scoops of this bedding to bed in our dry cows and feed some of our heifers and dry cows. Cows love to chew on dry corn stalks! Actually cows like to chew on a lot of things.
After we harvest the bedding we spread manure, lots of manure. Manure from cows, dry cows, heifers and calves. We need to make sure we have clean animals for the winter. Also fall is the best time of the year for manure application. We reduce compaction by hauling in the fall compared to the spring. We are also able to incorporate the manure into the soil through fall tillage (plowing, digging) thereby saving the valuable nutrients in the manure to be used by the 2010 crop! Hauling manure is critical to keeping the cows clean and dry but also critical for our crops. Manure saves us money. If we capture all of the nutrients and organic matter available in manure we are able to save the cost of commercial fertilizer that we would have used. Another added benefit is that manure is great for making good soil! Because manure is natural-worms and soil microbes LOVE manure!
When we finish manure hauling...then we have to do fall tillage. Tillage means plowing some fields (using an implement that flips the soil over so the soil surface is underground). We also dig some other fields with an implement called a DMI. The DMI leaves the soil surface on the top, but digs deep into the soil breaking up compaction, making the soil soft for the spring.
So, Dear God...please make the rain stop, at least until the harvest in is, and we have so much to do before snow season!
Friday, October 16, 2009
We call this day "Herd Health Day". Our vet worked today to do post-calving check ups on all of the cows that have had babies (calves) in the last month. We had 15 cows to check. We had an awesome result, as all cows are of excellent health. These cows were also vaccinated for various cow-diseases, much like how we vaccinate humans for human diseases. We also did pregnancy checks for those cows that we bred 35 days ago. We checked 7 cows and 4 of them were pregnant. The remaining 3 that are not pregnant will be watched in the coming weeks for estrus (heat) and bred again. Try, try again...we want all of our cows to have calves and continue their lactations. After checking over the cows we moved to the calf barn.
Here we vaccinated our calves with a vaccine that is similar to what the cows got, for the same disease. We work hard to give booster vaccines to all animals on our farm to make sure that our cows are healthy and not sick. Sick cows reduce milk production which reduces our income, but it also costs money to buy drugs to treat them, therefore it is ALWAYS in our BEST interests to have HEALTHY cows! In fact today at the age of 4.5 months, we vaccinated Joey, the calf from our spring day care visits.
After vaccinating the calves we did follow up checks on animals that had surgery in the last few weeks. All in all, it was a great day on the farm-with healthy and happy cows on Orange Patch Dairy!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Hmm, interesting....the debate was interesting and frustrating at the same time.
My response: YES! Meat is part of a balanced diet! Beef, pork, poultry, eggs and fish all provide vital nutrients that are critical to a healthy body. Meat products in the USA are safe. Just remember to cook your meats to the correct temperature and prepare properly. Also remember it's not okay to eat meat in excess, but of course in appropriate sizes and in moderation-perhaps 2-3 meals a day including some lean cuts of meats. I hope the general public also believes this fact.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
This morning we dried off 5 cows (time for them to go on a 2 month vacation before they have their next calf). After that we noticed a cow that we gave medication to induce labor had finally started labor. After carefully observing her for a couple hours we decided to intervene, but not before we chased the cow out of the mud holes in the dry cow yard twice. We helped pull the calf, a bull calf, and momma cow was doing so well! After taking care of calf and cow, we moved on to a cow that had gotten herself stuck in the mud. Well, actually she was playing with another cow and it got a little rough. #55 fell down into a thick muddy hole, and couldn't get back out. We rushed to her rescue, using the skid loader to move the mud out the way and lift her out of the mud. Success! #55 was out of the mud, but she was also in shock. SO....we gave her some calcium for muscle tone, dextrose (sugar) for some quick energy, and some pain medication in case she hurt her leg....but one that was safe for her and the calf that she is carrying. We finished that up and got to chase a heifer that needed to be bred through another mud hole in the heifer yard! Seems like all of the cows were looking for those darn mud holes today! We got Lucy into the barn for breeding. We use artificial insemination for breeding, because it is safer for cows and people to NOT use a bull. Plus we get to use genetics from around the world on our farm to improve our cows. We bred Lucy.....next, move fresh cow (cow that calved) to the milking barn....and of course she found the mud on the way to the barn.....yikes! Next we found another cow in the dry cow yard that had an infection in her foot....she got a cut and thanks to all of the mud, she now had an infection....so we moved her to the barn to get a shot of Penicillin.
Sure sounds like we were treating a lot of cows, but we were merely working around the environment that Mother Nature provided us this week. 4.5 inches of rain and cool/cold weather makes for some muddy conditions outside. Cows are unfortunately not smart enough to stay out of said mud, therefore we tend to have cows that get into trouble. We are definitely looking forward to the day that we can put all of the cows inside a barn during the muddy seasons! Once we have the money you can bet that we will be putting up a barn ASAP! In the meantime we are working to keep the cows as dry as possible...
Oh yeah did I mention that Minnesota Winter is here! It's snowing outside as I type this! I can't believe it! 6 months of winter in this darn state! I am beginning to question Global Warming especially since I remember when it was 70 degrees in November just a few short years ago. Oh well, dealing with the cards we are dealt, and enjoying the JOYS OF DAIRY FARMING!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Back to Dairy Expo....what a great trip! Too bad we couldn't stay longer than a day, but it was well worth the 10 hours of driving there and back! Jon and I left on Tuesday morning at 5 am, and arrived on the Expo grounds at 10:30am. We decided to divide and conquer. Jonathan had some booths he wanted to visit and I was on my way to speak at a seminar given by DMI. It was a great seminar filled with other dairy farmers ready and willing to tell their stories. What an up lifting place to be! The excitement of dairy farmers to tell their stories to consumers is truly contagious!!! Thanks!
After an uplifting seminar I met up with Jon for lunch and some more booths! Oh how many great people we saw, dairy farmers and industry people alike. Oh how many great cows we saw!-all well taken care of, sleeping better than the farmers there to show them. Oh how many new technologies we saw. There are some great technologies coming onto the market right now-new choppers, better fuel efficiency equipment, robots for milking cows, robots for pushing up feed, etc....see some of the pictures below of what we saw...