Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Corn Silage is Ready!

Today we check our corn to determine if it is ready to be chopped for silage....and it's ready!!!!  How do we know that it's ready?  Well, I drove out into the field this afternoon and collected samples of corn stalks.  In each field I chose 10 stalks of corn and chopped them with the chopper.  We collected a sample of the chopped corn, measured it, and dried it with a Koster tester (which removes water from a sample with the use of heated air).   After re-measuring the sample we can determine the moisture of the total corn plant.  It is ideal to chop corn silage at about 65-69% moisture to be packed into the silage bags.  Today's samples told us that the corn is about 64-70% moisture, so it is time to start chopping!!!  BUT....we are not ready to chop. 

Last September, we basically destroyed the processor on our chopper.  The processor is part of the chopper which crushes corn grain and corn cobs into smaller pieces which are more digestible for cows.  By processing our corn we are also able to cut the leaves and stalks into larger pieces which encourages improved rumen health for our cows.  This processor is a critical part of our corn silage chopper...and we haven't fixed it since it broke.  Today we hit the ground running, making sure that we get the chopper fixed!  Jon and his brother Marcus worked long into the evening tonight, putting on the new processor.  They are not done yet, but it did rain tonight which buys us about 1 day of additional time to get it ready to rock.  We have 9 bags of silage to make this year (each about 250 feet long and 10 feet around).  It will be a long task, but with some help from neighbors and family we will get it done as quickly as possible...so the marathon begins!!!  Corn silage season is here!!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Corn Silage Season is coming fast!

Our Silage/Grain Corn Variety on July 26th, 2010...looking great! (I'm about 5'7" for a reference for height).

Our Silage Variety plot, noticeably taller than me!  Some as high as 10 feet!

On July 26th, 2010 Our corn was looking pretty darn nice! This is plant producing 2 ears of corn! It's going to make delicious feed for our hungry cows!

Seems like we were just talking about the beginning of summer, starting hay season and the 4th of July, but it looks as though we have blasted through the county fair, the MN State Fair is only days away, we finished our 4th cutting of alfalfa last week and we are looking at starting corn silage in a matter of days as well!  Where did summer go!?!?!?  Above are some pictures that I took of our stellar looking corn crop.  As you may recall,  Jon and I are growing our first field of corn, to be chopped as silage for our cows.  This 25 acre field will feed our cows for about 3-4 months, so it's not really enough for the year, but it helps to be able to raise our own feed instead of purchasing ALL of it.  In order to make enough corn silage for our cows this year we will need to chop about 120 acres to feed each of our cows, heifers and calves for the coming year.  We will fill about 9 silage bags (250 feet long and 10 foot diameter) as well as 2 upright silos, for about 3000 tons of corn silage. 

We planted 2 different types (varieties) of corn this year.  We planted our "usual" variety which is a conventional (no genetically modified traits) which can be used as a grain corn (tends to be harder and higher in starch) or as a silage corn (plant material, leaves and stalks are more digestible for cows to eat).  We also planted a "test" plot where we are trying out some silage specific varieties that are even more digestible for cows.  These 4 varieties (you might notice the difference in heights in my picture, since they are drastically different) are also GMO (genetically modified organisms) varieties.  We are not sure what to think of these crops yet, as we will need to feed them to the cows and let the cows tell us what they think (it's their opinion that really matters!).  Right now we know that the silage specific varieties are VERY tall and are making some nice ears of corn, however the conventional variety is producing some even NICER ears of corn, some plants with as many as 3 ears/plant!!!  In the end though, we really focus on making excellent feed, that provides energy and fiber for our lovely ladies!  It's what our cows tells us about our feed that really matters....if they don't like it, it does us no good, therefore a HUGE focus on quality is key.  Stay tuned for more info from the fields and if you are interested, check out our Facebook Page for more pictures of corn and alfalfa! and some cows too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hello Blog, I am back again!

After a little time off to work on various other projects for the upcoming county fair, I thought I would just let everyone know I am still alive and kicking.  It's be crazy at the farm right now.  It's been raining about every 2-4 days and we are trying to make 4th cutting alfalfa in between showers/storms.  Our corn is loving this weather though, as it thrives with heat and moisture.  The cows are hanging in there with the heat.  Milk production has come down about 2-3 pounds per cow and their feed intake is down.  I wouldn't want to eat in this heat either.  Thank goodness for sprinklers and fans, those things have paid for themselves 10 times over already!  I know that the cows will be fine as long as we have sprinklers on them. 

Other than that we have the county fair this week, which means I will be busy with the princesses, the anniversary for the princesses, the dairy show and well....hopefully a demolition derby or two!  Stay tuned for pictures and more stories!