Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Honoring an Excellent Cow of Longevity!

Today was the County DHIA (Dairy Herd Information Association) meeting. While Jon and I did not attend, my in-laws did and brought home our information. Above is our cow Terry. She was honored as the county's 7th highest Lifetime producing cow. She is an amazing cow, and in fact is the mother of Theresa Ann, who I just blogged about yesterday. Terry has had an amazing journey to get to our farm and a great life along the way. Let start at the beginning:
Terry was born as #196 at our neighbor's farm over 11 years ago. She was raised in a nice calf barn then moved to lush pastures to grow into a great heifer. She delivered her first calf at this farm, a bull, milked in a nice, neat tie stall barn. The she was sold to a neighbor who milked her in a free stall barn, bred her back...and named her Terry. She lived at the 2nd neighbor's farm for about 2 years, then she was sold back to the original owner. It was from the original owner we purchased Terry. We brought her to Orange Patch Dairy 5 years ago. While at Orange Patch Dairy, Terry has delivered 2 bulls calves, 1 set of twin heifer calves, and one single heifer calf. Those heifers are all at our farm yet: named Terry II, Theresa Ann and Theresa Marie. Terry II has a daughter named Terry III and is due in July with another calf. Theresa Ann just gave birth to Theresa Joy last week and Theresa Marie is due next week. In fact Terry is due to calve again in July. At the age of 11 years 8 months, Terry has had 10 calves total and 8 lactations. Terry has produced over 220,000 pounds (over 25,600 gallons) of milk in her lifetime.
She's not the prettiest cow in the barn, she's showing her age, but she continues to be in good health, produce lots of milk (currently milking 100 pounds of milk each day=11.62 gallons), and produces nice calves. Did we push Terry to produce this much milk?-absolutely NOT! We keep Terry comfortable, housed in our pack barn. She is able to relax for over 15 hours each day on a comfortable and dry surface of bedding. She is milked twice each day and eats a completely balanced TMR ration that supplies her all of her daily needs. She is older than her herd mates and has special needs-we make sure that she has excellent health care and hoof trimming. Terry is a happy cow. She never kicks, always waits for her daily head scratching and is a pleasure to work with. We are so proud of her accomplishments and are truly amazed at how well she has aged. She continues to impress us each day. She's shorter and smaller than other cows, but with her maturity she pushes her "own weight" around. I know that she may have had rBST at other farms, but I assure you at our farm, she has NOT received any rBST as we do not use it. We firmly believe that if you care for your cows to the best of your ability and also provide them the best feeds possible, they will preform to the best of their genetic capabilities, and Terry proves this theory every day. So.....CONGRATULATIONS TERRY! WE SALUTE YOUR GREAT WORK PRODUCING A DELICIOUS PRODUCT FOR SO MANY YEARS!!!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Update!

Spring at the farm! Just thought I would add some pictures to the blog and update you on the cows and calves at the farm. Below is Theresa Ann. She's doing better now. She's a spirited little heifer. We have to use some restraints to milk her. New heifers are always a challenge, since they have never been milked before, but Theresa Ann is worse than others. The key to training heifers is good care, gentle and kind. We work hard not to raise our voices at the animals, and work carefully around and with them. Sometimes our tempers do get to us and we do yell, but those occasions are rare. Working with animals requires calm and quiet.... so milking becomes a more desirable activity and not something that is scary. Theresa Ann is slowly getting better each time she gets milked. Theresa Ann and Disturbed, chilling out in the pack barn.
Below is Theresa Joy. She's been a riot to feed! She's always waiting for me, excited for milk and a good scratching behind the ears. Theresa Joy is already drinking from a pail and nibbling on calf starter (dry protein pellets, corn and oats).
Theresa Joy, resting in her straw.
Just some cows, eating in the sun shine!!!!

Signs of spring...crocuses blooming in the garden!!!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Update on Theresa Joy....

I just thought I would post a quick update....Theresa Joy, our bundle of "joy" that was born late the other night is doing well! She drank her 1 gallon of colostrum milk yesterday and so far today has consumed another 2 quarts of milk. She will be fed tonight, where I assume she will drink another 2 quarts. She had a little bit of swelling in her navel this morning and showed some soreness, so I administered a shot of Penicillin. These symptoms are the result of a navel infection, so we treat quickly to make sure the calf doesn't "go backwards". Navel infections happen if the navel is ripped off in birth (which happened to Theresa Joy) and others happen because of unsanitary conditions. Because I acted quickly, after 3 more shots I expect Theresa Joy to be just great! and swelling free!! If left untreated a calf will get a temperature and become very ill, and losing weight.

Theresa Ann is doing well too. She's milking a lot and she is eating very well!!! Pictures coming soon....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March Midnight Madness

I just got out of the shower after a wild night and with all of the adrenaline flowing through my blood right I just can't I thought I would share the cause of my late night/early morning insomnia.

At 10:45pm, Jonathan and I finished up our chores for the night and headed over to the old barn to check on the dry cows. It's our usual nightly chore, making sure no new babies are born over night, unsupervised. This afternoon, both Jonathan and I had noticed that one of our heifers was acting uncomfortable (pacing the line fence, standing alone, and raising her tail). Knowing this I commented to Jonathan on the way over to the barn that she looked like she might be calving soon, early in fact, since her due was April 5th. Jonathan agreed that he saw the same signs. We got out of the car and walked through the dry cow pen, and what did we see???? Yep, Theresa Ann was in the corner of the pen, starting to calve! At 10:45pm, neither one of us wanted to stay at the farm and wait hours for her to calve to we decided to drive back to town (home) and I would come back to check on her in a couple hours. Heifers always take longer than cows to have their calves, so I knew since she was just getting started I had some time. I checked my e-mail, did some dishes and at 12:45am I headed back out to the farm. I walked back to the pen and found Theresa Ann still in the corner and no baby calf, in fact she had not made any progress since I left her 2 hours ago. Something was wrong!

I rushed into the barn and got some sterile gloves (the ones that go all the way to the shoulder). I proceeded to go in to "feel" for the calf and I found one leg, but not the other leg, and the calf was coming backwards! Calves are "usually" born front feet first followed by the head, to make sure that the calf is out and breathing once the umbilical cord breaks, however this calf was coming backwards....butt first! To make matters worse I could only find one leg! The other leg was pinned up against the hip bone of the cow and with each contraction the leg pushed against the hip, instead of coming out. Sometimes cows can successfully deliver calves backwards but Theresa Ann needed help and she needed it now! I tried to push and pull the calf so I could get the 2nd leg moved out, but it would not budge for me. In fact I don't think I was strong enough to get it to start with. That uterus is a strong muscle. I tried to call Jonathan on the cell phone. He was sleeping and turned his phone what to do???? If I call a vet it would take them too long to get there to help and they cost money. So I decided to rush back into town and wake Jonathan in person.

I drove as fast as I could, and thankfully there were no deer or cops. What is usually a 10 minute drive was more like 5....I scared the life out of Jonathan, yelling for him to come and help. He threw his clothes and boots on as fast as he could and we were back on the way to the farm. We ran to the dry cow pen, 15 minutes after I left, Theresa Ann was still in the corner trying to have that darn calf. Jonathan got down on his knees and when in to find the 2nd leg. He strained and struggled, but after some really hard work he got it freed!!!!!! We hooked up the rope and pulled the calf as fast, but as carefully as we could. We had to pull quickly since the calf could not stay in the birth canal, it could not breathe there and we had to pull carefully so we did not tear Theresa Ann. Swiftly we worked and with the help of Theresa Ann's powerful pushes we delivered a LIVE heifer calf!!!!! Oh how great it was to see that after all of that rushing and stress we were able to deliver a healthy heifer calf at 1:52am!!!!!!!

Theresa Ann got up immediately and started to lick off her calf. We proceeded to clip the calf's navel (to prevent infection) and make sure that Theresa Ann drank some water. Since it was so late at night we decided to leave baby Theresa Joy and her mother Theresa Ann together until morning. Theresa Joy was tired from the delivery and Theresa Ann was enjoying her success. Not every story ends like this, but it seems that this family of cows has happy endings....I hope Theresa Ann's twin sister Theresa Marie can do the same thing on her due date April 6th =)'s now 2:25am....time for bed....Good night everyone!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Inspired by Youth

It was another busy weekend at the farm. Besides the usual milking and feeding chores we have been trying to haul out some manure to the fields when the soil is frozen and solid or where we have dry hills. The top soil is drying nicely and it looks that we may be planting corn on time this year, with little risk of snow. The flood waters are disappearing as quickly as they appeared...but in places, especially near the Minnesota River, the flooding is still very present. I saw some awful sights of flooding while driving north this Saturday.

I had the honor of judging a local dairy princess contest on Saturday afternoon. I didn't know what to expect, as this was the 1st time that I actually judged a contest. Don't get me wrong, I think I was qualified to judge, I was a "butter head" in 2002, I have been a county princess coordinator for 3 years, and I have been actively involved in the dairy industry since birth ;) I have just never been on the other side of the table. It was a HARD job to judge those candidates. Each of them had such great skills and talents, each different and valuable. Some were great speakers, others were so genuine, and others were extremely knowledgeable. But ALL of them had passion and dedication for the dairy industry. Their positive attitudes were so contagious! Even though judging them was hard work, I left filled with pride in the princess program and the great connections it makes on behalf of dairy farmers.

These 4 talented women also gave me reinforcement that this blog has value, that giving tours to school aged kids has value and that each positive connection that I make as a dairy producer will hopefully help a consumer make the right choice at supper or dinner time.....I hope they choose dairy. Dairy foods supply so many valuable nutrients that the average consumer doesn't get enough of during the have you had your 3 servings today???? If not...make sure you start Monday out with a glass of cold milk and a cup of yogurt! Thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Celebrating Ag Week!

This week we celebrate National Ag Week and Ag Day! This week focuses on celebrating the great industry in our nation that supplies us an affordable and safe food supply. If you had a meal today, you should probably thank the farmers that made it possible. Everyone from the corn and soybean growers, cow milkers, beef ranchers, fruit and vegetable producers, pork farmers, and poultry farmers had a hand in making your dinner, supper, lunch and breakfast a wholesome, nutritious and safe meal.

At Orange Patch Dairy we focus on making safe, wholesome products everyday. We eat and share those products (cheese and milk) with others. I know that I am truly grateful for the great farmers that we have had in the past. Farmers like my grandfathers and my husband's grandfathers who worked tirelessly starting their farmsteads, to be handed onto the next generations. I am also thankful for the next generation of farmers who are starting now. The times and seasons that a young starting farm face right now are sometimes unimaginable to the generations of past. As young farmers, we have faced some of the worst years in agriculture, only in the past 5 years. Our drive and determination to continue in the great occupation that our grandparents did helps us to push on to better times and greater success. I am truly thankful for my fellow young farmers-thank you for your strength, determination, inspiration, and support! I know that if we can make it through these hard times, the years that come will be all the more fruitful for ourselves and for all people who eat.

Happy Ag Week-Thank a Farmer!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kelsey's Proud to Dairy

Meet Brown County Dairy Princess Kelsey Sellner, as she tells you why she and her family are Proud to Dairy.....

YouTube - Kelsey's Proud to Dairy.wmv

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring is in the air!

The concert was AWESOME! I can't wait to post some videos of Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, but no time tonight. Oh Spring is in the air at the farm! I know spring is right around the corner for many different reasons....

New Ulm Farm Show: This weekend is the Farm Show. Farmers and businessmen alike were wandering around the show floor today with a "spring" in their step: planning purchases for seed for the coming crop season, planning new building projects as soon as the mud disappears, and planning "warm" weather projects. Everyone had smiles on their faces even though the fog and mist smothered out the sunshine.

Disppearing Snow Drifts: 2 weeks ago we had over 18 inches of snow at the farm, now, thanks to some major temperature changes we have only 6 inches left and a lot of mud! It's a nessesary evil when it comes to season changes in Minnesota. Snow melts...mud comes. Heifers LOVE the mud! Silly heifers always run in the mud-making themselves dirty and disgusting. If PETA drove by they would probably want to film those darn heifers, covered in mud, and put it on ABC news, but even though they are muddy-it's only temporary. Once the sun comes out and the mud dries up, those heifers go back to being clean and beautiful, almost picture perfect. Heifers and cows are independent animals and even if they were in the "wild" they would be muddy and dirty this time of year. Ironically it's their choice to be muddy. They're healthy even if they are temporarily dirty.

Thunderstorms: Yes, we had our first thunderstorm of the year on Thursday morning. It was amazing to see lightning and hear thunder again! The rain (almost 1 inch) was warm and wonderful...but also made the mud that was the result of the melting snow even more "muddy". We moved a new fresh cow during this thunderstorm, I was soaking wet, but I enjoyed feeling rain instead of snow.

Flooding: Yes, we have flooding now. Rapidly melting snow with added rain makes for a LARGE volume of water that needs to go somewhere. The frost layer (layer in the soil where the ground is frozen) prevents the water from soaking there is run off. The water runs off into the streams, ponds, slouges, and into the fields. Our fields are all home to small lakes. Thanks to the work that we do with our local NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) we have built filter strips (sections of grass that we planted to filter run off water) and drainage ditches (grass filled ditches that store and filter water, in addition to move it away from the farm and feedlots). We have taken steps to make sure that we protect our natural resources (land, water, air). We need to have these resources for our generation and the generations to come.

Frost Layer is Coming Out: That darn frost layer, which had been there all winter is now thawing. This means that we can no longer take tractors out into the field. Tractors can cause compaction, which is bad for the soil. Compaction is terrible for crops-they can't develop good root systems. Tractors also get stuck. Mud without frost underneath means those darn tractors will sink right through-making for an even bigger mess. So what do we do with our manure?...we stack it. We have a section of land where we pile manure until the fields are safe to be in again (hopefully soon). We are hoping to build a larger storage area for manure, which means we can haul manure less often during the year and not have to stack it. Hopefully milk prices increase soon so we can make this wish a reality.

Robins and Green Grass: Yep, we sure did see our first robin this week! I was so excited to see that red chested bird! The grass is also greening up under the snow, which makes me hopeful that the long range forecast is correct and warmer weather is on the way!

Wishing you a Happy Spring!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jason Aldean - Amarillo Sky

On Thursday of this week Jon and I are taking a "little" break from the farm to enjoy our first country music concert in over 7 years! We have been to a couple rock/metal concerts in the past few months and we went to country concerts when we were in high school and college, we just haven't in the last few years. That being said it's been a rough year at the farm, so vacations have been few and far between. It's been hard to justify the cost. When you are self employed like we are, we have to pay to leave, but we also have to find help to take our place and pay them. Good help is hard to find, lucky for us we have a handful of great neighbors that we can count on if we need to leave for a weekend or just a night.

We are taking a MUCH needed break to see Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. I LOVE this song by Jason Aldean! When it first was released I played is constantly in the tractor cabs. It is so true. We, as farmers, continue to work and strive each day to do a better job for ourselves and our consumers---regardless of profit, "taking our tractors another round". Often we find ourselves turning to God. My experiences have taught me that farmers have some of the closest relationships with God than so many others. When you battle so many challenges that are out of your control, who else can you turn to but God....and enjoy God's simple the Amarillo get us through.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Warm March Weather

Oh this Sunday was wonderful. Even though it was cloudy, foggy and rainy...the snow is melting and the temperatures are rising.

This morning we were greeted with a cow in labor. #97, who is 6 years old was in the process of calving, we decided that since she started before we found her that she may need some help. We assisted her labor and delivered a beautiful baby heifer calf. We named her Tracy. Within an hour Tracy was up and running around. We quickly milked #97, fed Tracy, and made sure that #97 was eating her morning meal of TMR (total mixed ration). Seems like we only get heifers on Sunday mornings, which make us late for church, but at least we have an excellent excuse.

We got to church, went out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and returned to the farm to finish feeding the rest of the cows and heifers. Rest assured no animals ran out of feed, since we usually feed extra on Saturdays to make sure that the milking cows, heifers and dry cows have enough feed to let us enjoy church and a nice "day date". After swiftly feeding the animals, we went home and enjoyed a lovely walk outside. Though brisk, the 35 degree temperatures feel like a tropical paradise compared to a few short weeks ago when it was 35 below zero instead.

This weather is giving me the "itch" to play in the dirt. I am eagerly looking forward to planting my garden and planting our first field of corn. Spring-like weather also gives me the energy to tackle last minute projects at home, before I would rather spend my time outside in the garden. I managed to fully clean the kitchen this weekend and living room. I don't know how much more I will accomplish since we have a busy week scheduled on the farm, but we will see, with this new energy I may still find time. And I am so thankful to have my computer back!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Down with the Sickness

Oh I wish I could write more, there is so much to write, but thanks to a lovely virus our computer is down for the count...currently being looked at by a very helpful uncle, whom we REALLY appreciate. As a result I am online at my in laws until my computer returns back to me, clean and free of "disease". It's been crazy living without it, we use our computer to do everything from check the weather and markets to research news and do our farm projects. We miss it very much and wonder how in the world we ever lived without it.

So hopefully after this weekend I will be back to my blog again, in full force.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dear March

Dear March:

I was wondering if you could bring back a couple of my favorite things these coming days. Please bring back sunshine-we miss its warm rays to melt the snow. Please bring back mud, yes I said mud, because at least I don't have to move mud on a daily basis if the wind blows. Please bring back the rain-I love how it smells, snow doesn't really smell, and rain doesn't need to be moved. Please bring back dirt....I forgot how wonderful it smells after a warm rain and once its freshly tilled. Please bring back temperatures over 35 degrees, I forgot how freeing it can be to walk around without our almost 10 layers of clothing on, every day. I yearn to wear only a light sweatshirt and jeans once again.

You can kindly take back the 2 feet of snow that still blankets the ground, we don't need it anymore, Christmas was done months ago. You can take back the wind chills, we got it, it's cold in Canada...they can keep it. You can send back the clouds, unless they bring warm rains, since we really need the sun to dry out the ground.

We are looking forward to flowers (please see the picture attached below for reference), spring tillage, planting peas, and watching the alfalfa start to grow. And yes I am even looking forward to hay season.

If you could kindly meet my requests, I would greatly appreciate it,

One VERY Tired Dairy Farmer in Minnesota