Monday, November 30, 2009

Calving Season has Begun!

Calving Season has begun at Orange Patch Dairy. I am so excited to be calving, it's my favorite season. When we purchased our herds of cows almost 5 years ago, we knew that each of the farmers that we bought from focused on calving heavily in the early winter months to allow for more time in the crop seasons. As a result, as the herd has grown, more and more animals are available for calving during the winter months. Last year we had about 30 head to calve between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day...this year we await the birth of 40 calves!

So far we have 3 bulls calves and one heifer calf. Obviously I am hoping for more heifer calves so I can keep them, but the bulls are great too-a live calf is the best kind, regardless of the gender! I did some counting this morning, and I have about 27 head to have calves in the coming 30 days!!!! That's insane, and about 7 cows due in the next 6 days. This afternoon I induced a cow that is 5 days over due. Being over due increases the chances of a large calf and a difficult birth, so instead of waiting for nature to take it's course, we give it a little "medical" push. I am certain that this cow will be fine and I look forward to seeing her in labor tomorrow afternoon (it usually takes about 24 hours to get the birthing process started).

Today I also delivered a bull calf by myself. This is no easy task. I noticed that the cow was in labor at noon and I moved her inside, where she could enjoy a pen to herself. In about 20 minutes she broke her water (placenta) and was pushing. 5 minutes later I checked on her only to find rear legs sticking out. Calves normally are delivered front legs first, that way their heads come out first and they have the chance to breathe before they umbilical cord breaks. So I rushed to the office to grab some gloves and a chain. Yes, we use chains to pulls calves. It's not painful to the cow or the calf, but instead allows us to have more leverage when trying to help a 1800 pound cow deliver a 120 pound calf. Calves that size can't be delivered by hand, no body I know is that strong. So, nevertheless, I put the chains on the rear feet, tied up a rope, and used my body weight to put some pressure on the chain. Every time that the cow pushed, I pulled....with a lot of teamwork and positive encouragement, we delivered in about 10 minutes a healthy baby bull, and momma cow was in great shape!! Had I not helped her out, she would have strained and struggled for a long time, wearing herself out-causing stress on the calf and more than likely the calf would have been born dead, if she would have been able to get him out-all in all a success! Our cow, Xebe is a great cow-so tame and easy to work with-I am so happy we had success! I am looking forward to the next 27 calves, and hoping that I don't have to "pull" everyone of them ;)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Things we are Thankful for...

Every year I try to sit down and reflect on the things that we (Jonathan and I) are most thankfull for in our lives and in the past year. So since I started blogging, I thought it would be a great idea to post our list:
  1. God: Thankful that we have a deep faith in God and that no matter what life brings our way, we can depend on him to help us through it. On a farm this may be a daily event, so faith in God is critical.
  2. Each other: It's especially nice to be able to depend on each other. When we have bad days and yell at each other, it's nice to know that we will always be able to make up and move on with life, with each other. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have Jon-he's been my best friend for almost 10 years already~!
  3. Family: we are so thankful that we have a family that loves us and supports us, and even though they can be a little annoying from time to time, we know that they are always there and in our corner.
  4. Our Farm: We are truly grateful to be able to live on a farm. What a great future we can provide out kids someday! A farm is an awesome place to see all of the wonders that our Lord can provide as well as a great school to teach some of life's best lessons.
  5. Our Cows: Yes, we sure are thankful for those darn cows! How could we not be thankful for them? With great love, we care for them and we know that the better job we do caring for our cows the greater their care for us. It's a priviledge to be blessed with the care of one of God's great creature....each with their own indearing personalitites.
  6. Fellow Farmers: Without the friendship of our neighbors and fellow farmers, some days would be unbearable. We are truly thankful for them and the good work that they do as well. As less than 2% of the nation's people are farmers, we know we are part of a small group of people that feed the world...we are thankful for their hard work and the food that they provide.
  7. Our Consumers: Thank you for your support of our products. Thank you for serving your kids 3 servings of Dairy each day to provide them their daily requirement of calcium. Thank you for enjoying cheese, milk and yogurt as nutritious snacks! We are very grateful for your support and hope to continue to supply you with safe, quality, wholesome products this coming year.
  8. Our Leaders: Without leaders, we could have no followers....thanks to those who are leaders in government, religion and in the ag community...your leadership is inspiration to the rest of us, working hard each day!

So many things to be thankful for! Make sure as you gather with your family and friends tomorrow to say a couple prayers for those who worked so hard this past year to help put food on your plate. It's not an easy job, but we do it every day to feed our consumers like you!

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving from Orange Patch Dairy!

Shannon and Jonathan

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Got my computer back!

After having my computer down for a couple days, needless to say I missed it. It's not that I missed having internet access to facebook as much as I missed having our computer for all of our farm needs. Agriculture is continuing to be a more technological industry. Technology makes life easier. On our dairy we use the Internet to research the daily activity on the milk market, weather reports, forage results, and new ideas. Jon often searches for new equipment for the farm online. I communicate with other farmers and industry people through e-mail, helping to share ideas and information. It's amazing how such a basic occupation depends so much on technology to make our jobs easier and more efficient.

I didn't even think about all of the excel spreadsheets I use to calculate farm stats and the financial programs that Jon runs to help our banker better understand our business.

It's amazing how a tool so small can do so many important tasks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Just thought I would leave and let you know that I have not fallen off the face of the earth but instead found tons of jobs to do instead of posting. Rest assured that once I do return I will have LOTS of videos to share with you.

On Sunday night, at 1am we finished hauling out the cow barn. We hauled about 77 loads of manure on about 50 acres of land. We look forward to the great crop of corn this will hopefully yield for next year. On Tuesday we had Herd Health. Our vet came out and checked all of the cows, as usual. He had good news for us....12 cows pregnant and ready to calve in for June and July of next year! We hoped after that good news and finishing tilling in the manure that would have been able to go home that night early, but we found out a pump in our parlor was out of commission. We called the local serviceman (about 40 minutes away) to come and fix it, and after we got it figured out we finally started milking cows at 9pm (2 hours later than usual). We were so grateful to have a serviceman so close! We often try NOT to take our dairy infrastructure for granted-they do so much to make dairying less stressful for the rest of us. Needless to say, the cows were pretty mad at us, but we got them milked and made it up to them the next day by giving them extra treats in their feed.

Yesterday I was at South Dakota State University to speak to the freshmen class of Dairy Science students. It was a great experience to see another excellent group of students excited about the dairy industry and looking forward to a career in it.

Today we will be working on moving some dirt for a winter project and miscellaneous cleaning around the farm....needless to say there's never a dull day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk

Please show your support for Chocolate Milk!!!! Chocolate milk is at risk of being removed from schools. Please help us make sure that all kids get all of the Calcium, Vitamin D, and Potassium that they need for strong bones and good health. Replacing sodas with chocolate milk is a great way to start a healthy habit for a healthy diet!

Please sign the Petition for Chocolate Milk! Join the Moo-vement! See the link below to sign.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Post #100! This day didn't go as planned :(

So this is my 100th post on my blog! I can't hardly believe that I made that many posts already, but I promise this one to be interesting....all about my day, another Monday that went unplanned.

The PLAN was to work on making bedding today, haul out manure, and make headway on our fall activities. INSTEAD....we had all sorts of chaos, good chaos, but chaos nonetheless. The morning began with breeding a heifer at the neighbor's farm. This took an extra 30 minutes out of our day, and meant we started milking later than expected, even though we got out of bed extra early. When we arrived at the farm we learned that the milking system wasn't working correctly so Jonathan started to work on that, while I hopped on the 4-wheeler to dry through the dry cow lot. We had a cow that was due to calve about 3 days ago. I went looking for the cow and found her, and she appeared to have calved, but there was no calf to be found. I started looking around the lot in a frantic. The calf was no where to be found, until I saw 2 little ears sticking out of the mud, wiggle. That darn new born calf had wondered her way out of the dry cow lot, where she could be with her mother and out into a big, deep mud puddle. She was fine and healthy, just very dirty! Oh dear calf! I loaded her up into the wheelbarrow and pushed her into the calf barn. Then we started her a warm bath. At first she didn't like it too much, but once she figured out that I was cleaning off all of that mud, she REALLY loved it! She was so cute. I dried her off and she was a lovely black calf. I hurried up and off to the barn to help finish milking. Now chores were about 2 hours later than planned. Jonathan and I hustled through feeding chores and ate a quick lunch. I headed off to haul manure from the heifer pens and Jonathan went into the fields to make corn straw stacks. After loading the manure spreader with my first load, I pulled out of the pen and through the open gate, slowly making sure the heifers didn't run out of the gate. I turned to look forward for a couple seconds and by the time I turned around I found that the heifers had pushed the open gate into the manure spreader and the gate got caught under the wheel of the manure spreader.....the gate was completely twisted and mangled!!!!! OH NO!!!!! I called Jon to come and rescue me! We fixed the fence and wasted another hour of our day. The sun was setting so I ran off to haul one last load of manure and Jonathan went back into the field. Wouldn't you know it, but Jonathan had a problem too! He broke the stack maker, and it needed to be fixed as well. Oofta! it's been one of those days! Just hoping that tomorrow is a better day ;) Either way we got the cows cared for, milked and we got to enjoy some AMAZING Fall Weather! So even though it didn't go as planned it still went well!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Soybeans done and bedding started

Soybeans were combined last night. So the custom combiner came in at about 5 pm and finished up late last night. We didn't have too many acres of beans this year, since we had lots of corn and alfalfa for cow feed. Jonathan got the stack maker up and running yesterday. He went out yesterday afternoon and made corn stacks...I have video to be posted soon.

This week, thanks to the great forecast we are hoping to make all the bedding we will need for the cows this year. We are also hoping to haul out all of the manure, work it in, and be finished for the year! Phew! Getting tired just thinking about it! haha! I'll keep you up to date as we finish our Fall Projects!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Finally started the corn!

Well, my father in law finally started the corn. Even though it is not dry enough, we are taking it out of the field. We have to. We will have to pay more to dry the corn this year, but if we leave it in the field any longer we will be risking snow, winter, and wildlife: all that will destroy the corn. We hope that this nice warm weather lasts! Please God we need it to last!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ohioans give 'thumbs down' to HSUS   Dairy Herd Management Magazine - Industry News

Ohioans give 'thumbs down' to HSUS Dairy Herd Management Magazine - Industry News

It's awesome that consumers voted with farmers on this issue. I am excited to see a similar proposal for Minnesota. Why not have people who understand agriculture make laws for agriculture? Makes sense to me!

Vt. slaughterhouse had been cited before   Dairy Herd Management Magazine - Industry News

Vt. slaughterhouse had been cited before Dairy Herd Management Magazine - Industry News

Excellent article in response to the video released by HSUS. I do believe that it is irresponsible of the USDA to continue to allow a plant like this to operate. As a unified front, we need to as an industry make a stand against mishandling of all animals in the livestock industry.

Weather is becoming Mentally Frustrating

This weather is becoming mentally frustrating. Yesterday it rained, again....just enough to stop field work and reverse any drying that happened in the fields this weekend. Today the sun was supposed to come out, but we enjoyed a cloudy, cool morning with damp heavy air. This air also didn't allow anything to dry, and when the sun did come out it was 2 hours from sunset. No drying happened today.

We are hoping to get into the fields tomorrow, working to haul some more liquid manure out of the milking barn pit. Once we finish this task, we will pull the pump out of the pit and take it to the neighbor's place to be repaired before we need it again. Once we finish that job we look forward to cleaning out calf huts and hauling that manure and bedding out to the field on Friday. 60 degrees in the forecast for Friday and Saturday makes me hopeful that we can FINALLY hit the corn and soybeans. Once those our out we can start making some much needed bedded for the cows and heifers and haul out our pack manure (7 months worth of manure and bedding from about 160 cows). Stay tuned, I hope to have some videos of all of this action~!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Minn. farmers donate 36,000 pounds of cheese

Minn. farmers donate 36,000 pounds of cheese

How great it is to see farmers giving back even though, we, ourselves are facing tough times. Helping to feed the hungry is the least that we can do! Yeah for Minnesota!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Corn Silage Season 09Part4

Check out, the last video of our series from September....chopping the last of our corn silage. We finished in 5 days, with plenty of rain delays to make over 2500 tons of corn silage for our 180 cows and 190 heifers for the coming year off of about 85 acres of corn! It was a GOOD year, especially considering that we had a cool dry season.