Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Government to Gogurts

Yesterday Graham Filler, a friend who's running for State Rep, brought Congressman John Moolenaar to tour our farm.  He wanted to talk to farmers, see what was going on in our area, get our opinions on different policies, and basically hear what we had to say so he could be a better representative.  It's always nice when you meet one of your elected officials and you like them in real life!  No matter which party you're in, it's always appreciated when people want your view on your industry.  Thank you to John and Graham! 

Today I went to Mrs. Austin's and Mrs. Daman's begindergarten classes at St. Joseph Catholic School! We turned cream into butter, read books about dairy farms, and ate Gogurts and drank chocolate milk. The cutest part is when I asked who lived on a farm and most of them said they did ... even though Mrs. Daman assured me only one of them did. All in all, they were adorable, and it was great being there as usual.  Thanks, teachers!

Meanwhile on the farm ... we had a water leak under the calf barn and had to first cut into and second jackhammer the cement to fix it.  The new bulk tank is in and working, and the first bulk tank must be jealous because it immediately started being finicky.  We've had to have people out to fix things on it twice and it's still acting up.  There's always an adjustment period when the new baby shows up.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Fill 'er up

Bulk tank #2 is finished!  Wall is built, window is done, door is in, and mostly important, it works.  We're using it already, and it makes us all happy to have enough storage for all the milk these wonderful cows are producing.

It's fall here, which means it's beautiful.  The leaves are gorgeous, the temperature has been one that the cattle like better, and our harvest is done.  We feel for the farmers that are still trying to do their corn and soybeans, because it's been really wet and they haven't been able to get into their fields.  

I have a friend that pays no attention to the weather, because - she really doesn't have to!  If your kid wears a jacket or doesn't, it's not a big deal.  But to farmers, there is nothing like checking your weather app and discussing the weather with other farmers.  Thinking about it, planning your life and business around it, discussing it - it's going to happen!  You can go years without talking about your bulk tank, but rain?!  Never.

It's homecoming in our town so I'm off for the parade and the game - so fun, and NO rain in the forecast!  

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Snake falling from tree

On Saturday, I was in my yard with Ty, and we'd just finished picking up sticks.  Beside me, a snake fell from the tree onto the driveway. 

It dropped.  From high.  I watched it fall.  Right next to me.


I'm not scared of snakes.  They don't creep me out like, for instance, bats do.  In fact, I once found a snake in my laundry room and I was just annoyed.  (Note - snakes have never flown into my house and circled my head like some bats.  I would no doubt have a different view if this happened.)  In Michigan, we have a lot of garter snakes around, and they are small and harmless.  I kind of like them.

Yet!  I'd never seen one fall from a tree.

I ran to get the other two boys and the three of us stood and looked at it.  Its head was bloody, like its eye had exploded during the fall.

I was sure it was dead.  It looked dead.


We wondered whether a bird had dropped it, but we didn't hear any bird up there when it happened.  Max poked at it with a stick and it sort of moved, so I suggested we leave it alone to die in peace.

We continued to work in the yard, and then Cole called to me. 

"The snake isn't dead.  It's moving!" he said.

"It's alive?!"  I said, amazed. 

We watched as it slithered through the grass, and winced as it continued hitting its congealed, bloody head on grass.  It kept sticking to it.  It would pull away, put its head higher, and move on.  It opened and shut its mouth wide many times.  It looked like it was in pain, but as it moved, it got stronger and stronger.


"Where is it going?"  Cole said.  "Why doesn't it avoid the grass?  Why was it in the tree?"

We both lamented the fact he didn't speak Slytherin. 

We watched, fascinated, as the snake moved back in the yard ... and started climbing the same tree.


I googled 'snakes climbing trees'.  Sure enough, lots of people had videos of this amazing physical feat. 

The snake climbed about halfway up, with us cheering it on, and then hung out on the tree trunk.  We checked back on it over the rest of the night, and the next morning it was gone.  No doubt to wait in the tree for us.

Again, I'm not afraid of snakes, and I'm glad.  Because live ones are falling from trees in my yard.  On the farming side, the snake harvest is going really well this year. 

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT Podcast!

I've been hosting podcasts for Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT since August, and I've talked to a lot of wonderful and interesting people.

I've got this whole nifty little studio setup here.  It's Kris' office.  My office had too much ambient noise.  Kris is now used to coming home to a note on the door: "Do not come in or make coffee too loud."

To download the podcasts onto your phone, go here:

To check out the site, go here:

I've talked to:

I hope you like listening to them as much as I do.  Enjoy!

Want to know more about the farm?  Like the page on Facebook, on Twitter @carlashelley, or sign up to get the blog by email - the form is on the right side of the page.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Agri-Fit Challenge - 2018!

We had to do this on a course, so I'm guessing this was about the 12th time I was flipping it, due to my expression!

This weekend was my absolutely favorite race - the Agri-Fit Challenge!  Why is it my favorite?  Because it really IS a challenge!  

My boys and two of their friends were a part of it!  They had a ton of obstacles and just a little shorter run than the adults.  These cross country runners and friends did an awesome job, making up the top five!

Another thing I love about the race is it's doing activities that my kids, as farm kids, are used to doing.  Moving tires?  Yes.  5-gallon pails?  Yep.  Running as fast as possible?  Yes, sometimes after heifers that are out.  

After the kid race, it was time for Kris, our friends, and I to start our heat.

Our race was:

Jumping over round bales - I somehow did this flipping over my back.  Unplanned, but it worked!  Some people leaped over it like gazelles.

Running through tires - Like a football drill.

Crawling under ropes - Kris' cousin Jess was right behind me at this point, but I didn't know it was her.  Someone running behind you in the woods does make you go faster!

Climbing up boxes - Hard to do gracefully.

Climbing wall - It was made out of metal fencing, so climbing it was easy, since we do this all the time!

Carrying a bale around a circle - I was happy it was straw and not hay.  Kris ran with his like it was nothing.

Pulling a tire - When I started, I thought, I don't know if I can actually move this.  It was huge, but I got it going.

Flipping a tire down a course - See picture of effort this took!  Ultimately my favorite obstacle.

Carrying a 5-gallon pail of water - All in a day's work.

Crawling under barbed wire - One year I tore my shirt, but not this time.

Walking a balance beam over manure - I didn't even know it was manure until after.  I thought it was mud.  Kris thought we were supposed to run through it at first, and thought nothing of it.  It's a challenge, after all!

Climbing up a grain truck through sugar beets - This was fun!

Running through a pond - Mucky for sure.  Kris half-swam through it to go even faster. a 5k through the woods!

The toughest part for me was the tire flipping. Putting tires on the pile all summer was great training! You had to flip it about 15 times down a course, and then roll it back.  My parents and kids were cheering us all the time, giving me helpful advice like, "Catch it when it bounces up!"  (I did a few times, but really that was harder.)

We all had chocolate milk after, and celebrated Team Chocolate Milk.  Our friend and  Kris' fellow MMPA board member Gertie Van Den Goor was there, and she's also on Team Chocolate Milk!

I ended up second woman overall and first in my age group, and Kris got second in his age group!  (He also beat me - he essentially trains every day in more ways than one.)  It was a spectacular day with our friends and family.  My parents were as always a great support and took the nice action shots.    

The more the merrier - I hope to see you all there next year!  See race updates by liking the page here.  

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Sunday, August 26, 2018


Want to get to know farmers in Michigan? Of course you do!

I'm hosting a podcast through the Michigan Ag Council and talking to interesting farmers around our state.  The first one we're featuring is Jed Welder, Army Ranger turned farmer.  You can listen to the podcast here!

Also this month ... we finished the fourth and final cutting of alfalfa this past week ... just in time to start chopping corn tomorrow!  Kris is very busy organizing all of the million things that have to go right to make this happen.  It's an exciting time of year and we're all happy and satisfied when the harvest is done.  Hopefully that will be this week, if the weather cooperates.  Every single farmer here is saying the same thing, every single year.

This month, for U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, I spoke at the Leadership At Its Best training conference in Raleigh, NC! This is a leadership development program sponsored by Syngenta for the American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association. It was a great group of people.

As for the industry, there was big news that a dairy processing plant is going to be built right in our town.  Good news for all.  We went to the Ogemaw County Fair for the first time, as well as the Clinton County 4-H Fair for the perhaps 25th time. 

Our little calves that were born this year have now moved into group pens, because cattle are social.  They also enjoy watching kids ride on scooters, which is a little-known farm fact.

Aside from our farm, we've really been enjoying our neighbors' farms on Dewitt Road (Chants and Smiths).  Not only do they have sugar beets, which you don't see around here all the time .... 

Can you believe how great these end up tasting?!
but they also planted a beautiful field of sunflowers!  

I love driving by them every day.  This is the first year I've had sunflowers in my garden too (thanks to my friend Ashley, who gave them to me), and I never knew how much I liked them.  

Happy harvest to all the farmers, and happy end-of-summer to everyone!  School starts tomorrow ... but the boys are still helping with calf chores.  Calves like to eat no matter when school is happening. And that's a pretty well-known farm fact.

Want to know more about the farm?  Like the page on Facebook, on Twitter @carlashelley, or sign up to get the blog by email - the form is on the right side of the page.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

And the gang's all here

This is just a little snapshot of a few of the million things that went on this month ...

We finished our third cutting, and this time we used trucks and a bagger.


It's fun to watch.  The chopper blows the tiny pieces of chopped up alfalfa into these trucks we rented.  The trucks drive to the baggers, and they tip into the bagger as it moves forward.  Ahhh...nice, full, big bags of feed for the winter!


We had preemies. Not twins, but two tiny girls at the same time.  They were half the size of a normal calf - and so small they looked like goats!  They were healthy, though!  Our team member took them to her grandparents' house to raise them.  Before they left, she put little pink collars on them, which was a definite first for calves around here!  So cute.


One evening my neighbor Ashley called me and said, "I can see three of your cows in your corn."  Oh no!  I raced out of the house.  My neighbors and I easily got them back in.  Kris rode up on the quad and I said, "We got the cows back in."  Kris said, "Those aren't cows.  Those are heifers."  This meant that they didn't come right from where I could see them ... they had come from across the corn field!

We weren't dealing with three cows ... we were dealing with 50 heifers.  My parents, my neighbors, my kids, the three guys milking, Kris and I started searching in the 12-foot high corn for lost heifers.  We walked through, calling them, and they were so happy to find us and followed us out.  Meanwhile, we were trying to fix the fence, but we couldn't repair it until all of them were out.  It took about three hours for us to find all the heifers, and Kris was able to fix the fence before dark.  Whew!


We had a lot of visitors, including my family.  One night all of her nine grandchildren helped her with calf chores!


It's here!  I'm so happy with Sawyer in the Sky, my second book in the Sawyer in the Woods series.  So excited.  My boys loved it, and I hope your kids love it too! Available on Amazon.


Something else new ... I'm going to be hosting the Michigan GROWN, Michigan GREAT podcast!  I start recording in August, and I'll be sure to post the link to the podcast here.  I'll be interviewing farmers and agriculturalists from around the state about what's happening on their farms!  I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope you enjoy listening.

Want to know more about the farm?  Like the page on Facebook, on Twitter @carlashelley, or sign up to get the blog by email - the form is on the right side of the page.