Monday, July 26, 2010

Where has the summer gone?

As I write this short blog, I am pondering where in the world has the summer gone?  Seems like just weeks ago we were still in June, enjoying June Dairy Month & various promotions, but now we are closing in on August, including county fairs & the great Minnesota State Fair.  Our summer has definitely not decreased in "business"!  In the coming weeks I will be working diligently on my various projects for the Brown County Fair, mainly around the 50th Anniversary of the Brown County Dairy Princess Program.  To learn more about this great program, check out our blog at So...If I am a little slow at blogging, please bear with me =)

Back at the farm things have been incredibly busy as well.  July was our busiest month of the summer for calvings.  We had 14 cows have calves, 10 of which were heifers.  This means that I have almost quadrupled my calf chores.  I am not complaining, but merely stating that I have more chores.  Those calves, especially the youngest ones, require lots of time and care to make sure they have an excellent start.  I can proudly say that my new girls have been doing great!  Lucy, our first registered (full bred Holstein with papers to prove her family tree) even calved in with a beautiful heifer calf, which I have named Luciana.  I will try to get some pictures posted. 

We have been getting a LOT of rain at the farm.  A couple of nights we had some flash flooding, but all in all the cows and corn have been doing great!  Our silage corn is putting out ears & in full tassel.  It has stretched out to almost 10 feet tall!

I hope to post pictures of these events soon! 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Cooling for Cows 2010

With the temperatures rising this week at Orange Patch Dairy, it has made it very apparent that cow cooling is critical in the summer months.  We provide shade, sprinklers and fans to make sure our cows are comfortable every day.  As the temperature rises, the sprinklers run more frequently.  Cows really enjoy the sprinklers, like kids at a water park.  By cooling cows, we make sure that they do not become stressed.  Heat stress is a serious condition in cows.  Heat stress can cause a number of health issues and illnesses,'s definitely important to keep the girls cool!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fire Safety 101

On Friday last week, we learned a hard lesson on fire safety, but a good one.  A lesson which taught us that we should never take for granted farm safety and knowing what to do in a critical situation.  At 1:50pm on Friday I decided that since it was hot out I would double check that my dry cows were getting enough water.  On my way past the new dairy barn I smelled smoke.  As I look up I could not determine where the smoke was coming from.  Once I reach the road I saw the source....our calf barn (the previous milking barn)!!!!!  I was driving the 4-wheeler and pushed it as fast as it would go.  Once I reached the back of the barn, I saw the flames!  The large fan at the back of the barn, which was used to keep our calves cool was now blowing the flames further into the calf pen. The calves bellared in fear, a horrifying sound.  I rushed inside to unplug the fan and try to chase the calves out.  Fear filled the calves, they wouldn't move, so I left the gates open and rushed outside to call 911.  As I called 911, I ran to the house to get my father in law.  I jumped on the 4-wheeler a got Jon.  Once we got back, in a matter of minutes, the guys were in the back of barn fighting the flames with a garden hose, and us girls (my sister in law, my grandmother in law, and I) were pailing water onto the flames as well.  The round bale of corn straw that I had in the back pen was on fire, as  was the bedding in the pens.  At this time, most of the calves in the pens had been evacuated and we were in the process of moving the others out of the front of the barn (about 40 total).  It took about 14 minutes from the first 911 call until the fire department's a 10 minute drive from town, so I thought that was pretty darn fast!  At this point the guys had the flames down to only a couple smolders.  The fire department took over looking for hot spots (we had a couple walls that were close to igniting).  We removed the round bale and ripped it apart, hosing it down. 

Once it was all said and done, we had family and friends there to help us.  We cleaned up the wet smoky bedding and by 7pm, the calves were back in the barn!!!  It's amazing but no calves were hurt,  no people were hurt, the barn is slightly burnt but still in tact, and everything was ok!!!!!!  Truly a miracle!!!!!  We know we had some angels that day!

Thank you so much to those who came to our aid, the fire department, our quick thinking family, farm safety classes, those who check in on us to make sure that we were ok and most of all thank you to God for protection from what could have been an incredible disaster!!!!!  Check out the damage picture below.

Our calf pen with blackened steel in the back where the fire was burning.

Note the plywood, where the fire department ripped a hole in the wall to find a hot spot.

Burnt plywood.

Gates and steel all blackened from the flames. Our plastic windows also melted.

2nd pen where the round bale was sitting.  The steel is now black as well.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Pic from Orange Patch Dairy

Peas ready for harvest on 6/25/10.

My father in law's cows out on pasture.

Fuji the calf, checking out the grass at a local dairy promotion for June Dairy Month.

Jon, adding corn silage to the TMR (Total Mixed Ration) Mixer, making the daily feed for the milking cows.

My view from the corn field on 6/24/10.  Looking good!

One of my cows, being weird, picking her nose...they don't have fingers, so how else should they do it?

For more pictures from our farm, please check out our Facebook page!!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mental Health Day!

Every once in awhile the grind and stress of a dairy farm gets to us.  I would say that every couple months or so, we try to take at least one day off from the farm, making sure that we can relax and someone else is in charge of the cows.  Thank you so much to our awesome helpers, milking and feeding the cows and calves while we were gone.  On our day off we decided to celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary and the 4th of July.  We went to a local amusement park to "relieve" some stress.  It was an awesome day!  As a result though we had to work hard before the day off...and work hard afterwards to catch up.  Who knew cows were more work than milking and feeding?  Yep, we needed to bed the calves, heifers, and cows in before we left and then when we came back.  There was cows to breed, heifers to treat (one got sick with bloat while we were gone) and there were various other small projects to work on.  But every once in awhile it is nice to walk away from the "To Do List" and come back refreshed and renewed!  I know the cows appreciate that we are in a better mood...and we do too! 

So I am back and caught up...and ready to blog some stay tuned, I have a bunch of pictures and video to share in the coming weeks.