Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thank you!

Last year Kris won the Michigan Farm Bureau Achievement Award, and part of his prize was free use of a tractor for a year. Our year started today! They delivered our Kubota. Isn't it shiny?!

They also brought along a surprise. They gave us a picture of us standing in front of the tractor with the sponsor at the awards ceremony. And ... it's giant-poster size! Thank you, Kubota, for the tractor. It'll be incredibly useful. And thanks for the picture, too. It's perfect for my giant-size photo album!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Calf care

Today Kris went to a program put on by the MSU extension office called Calf Care School. It was an all-day class that covered everything to do with calves, from feeding to housing to scours.

Speaking of scours, a girl I met this weekend said that as soon as she walks in a barn, she can smell scours. Scours is calf diarrhea caused by viruses or bacteria. If not treated quickly, it causes potentially life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. I said, “You can smell scours?” She said, “Once you know the smell, you know it. There’s no mistaking it for anything else.”

The extension agents (we have good ones!) and a vet covered the best ways to raise calves - supported by studies. Kris said it got him thinking about things he might want to do differently in the new calf barn. Instead of milk replacer, we’re going to feed them fresh milk, and we have to handle this differently. They also presented a study that showed you can feed high-quality haylage (chopped up and fermented alfalfa) to calves after weaning. People usually feed them dry hay because it was thought that fermented feed might not be good for a calf because it doesn’t have a fully developed rumen.

Like caring for babies, a lot of it was just reminders on how to raise healthy baby calves. We’re heading into calving season, so we’re gearing up! Hopefully we won’t have to identify scours by smell . . . there’s no class for that kind of skill.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Milking it

Our money really comes from one main source - milk. The milk check! I don't really feel the need to 'sell' milk, because people consider it a sort of staple. Then, even if they don't like milk, most people like at least one dairy product. Preferably sprinkled with crushed Oreos.

But do you know why milk's good for you? Here are some fun facts to pull out the next time you get the gallon from the fridge - which will be in about two minutes for me, when I whip myself up some chocolate pudding. Please visit my guest post: Which cow gives the chocolate milk?

Monday, March 28, 2011

On the way

The tractor we’re buying is going to be ready next week. Why, if we bought a tractor, wasn’t it ready immediately? Well, a farm near Hastings ordered a new tractor from the factory. As soon as their tractor was finished, they wanted to use it.

The dealership wanted to get a jump on selling the old tractor, because it was the winter. Once it’s spring, farmers are busy and don’t have time to research, look for, and test drive tractors. And it’s much better to buy a tractor before you desperately need one, because one’s broken and you have to plant! So much about crops is time and weather-sensitive.

The dealership set the price based on a certain amount of hours. (Hours are how they calculate tractor use, not miles driven.) They guessed at the amount of hours the tractor would have on it by the time the new tractor arrived. If the tractor had more hours on it than what they guessed, then the price would be lower. (They didn’t.)

The tractor is at the dealership now, and they’re getting it ready to come here. Kris told me they’re doing things like changing the fluids, taking care of any known issues, and cleaning it. He also had them order a buddy seat for it.

A buddy seat is that little chair next to the driver’s seat so you can have someone ride in the tractor with you. Kris has had lots of people ride with him. I have, my dad, friends, friends’ kids, and I’m sure to come . . . all five of us will fit in that tractor at once.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Up north

Kris and I went to Traverse City, MI for the final session of his 2010-2011 ProFILE class, which is a leadership class through Farm Bureau.

Kris has been going to the different events for almost two years, but I was just meeting his classmates for the first time.

I met Brian Pridgeon, who is a seventh generation farmer. He and his family currently have about 70,000 pigs. Did you know that pigs are pregnant for 114 days? Did you know that after they wean their piglets, the sows go into heat 5 days later, like clockwork? Did you know that their conception rate (on his farm) is 96%? I didn't.

Another class member has a greenhouse and sells all of the greenhouse's plants to places like Home Depot. As we drove through the vineyards, Kris mentioned that a lot of winery owners were also members of Farm Bureau. We saw some people working, trimming trees in the snow. There were also lots of cherry farms. Fruit growers are everywhere up there.

It's nice having the opportunity to talk to these farmers and learn about their industries, just like I like to talk to dairy farmers and learn more about ours.

We were eating a meal and a woman said, "With sons, it increases your chances one of them might want to take over your farm." The woman (farmer) replied, "I hope not. I hope they shoot for something higher."

Different products, different locations, different farms. Some farmers enjoy farming, some don't. Just like every job, it has its bad days and good days. Thankfully, so far, the good has far outweighed the bad. Can't wait to see milk prices in 2011!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can you feel it?

The bikes are ready to ride ...

The asparagus is poking out of the ground ...

The pasture is ready to go ...

under the ice, of course.

I couldn't stop taking pictures of the ice today. Usually it melts off when the sun comes out, but it never melted today. As a result, everything glittered. It was beautiful.

Or as my son said, very (non) poetically, "It looks like everything is covered in tinfoil."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ice storm

Another ice storm! All the schools are cancelled, it's below freezing, and everything is covered in ice. It's still pretty ... but just not quite as pretty as it was February 23. My son said, "The sky must not know it's spring."

You always hope you don't lose power for the obvious reasons. Most dairy farmers can't afford to lose power, so they have generators. There are two main reasons:

1) You have to milk the cows when they need to be milked, no matter what. Otherwise they'd be sore and you wouldn't make any money that day. It would be awful for everyone.

2) If you have milk in the bulk tank, it needs to be refrigerated. Like all milk, eventually it'll spoil if left at room temperature.

Our employee who milks his own cows unfortunately lost power today. He said that if it didn't go on by the afternoon, he was going to go buy a generator. So I bet the ice was even less pretty to him.

Kris had to break the ice on the feed mixer wagon scale in order to push the buttons

Icy berries

The wind is blowing the trees and the branches are clacking together. It's noisy out here!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Farmhouse bug

We live in an old farmhouse. I chose to live here, so I don’t have many complaints, but this year the boxelder bugs are awful.

Stage one, or education: Look, boys, a boxelder bug. They don’t bite. Use this tissue and pick it up and put it in the trash.

Stage two, or familiarity: My boys made Lego apartments for the boxelder bugs. I asked Ty to throw one away and he told me no, it was his pet. I told him then he would never run out of pets.

Stage three, or mild annoyance: There seem to be a lot. We start flicking them away from us or at each other.

Stage four, or major annoyance: A friend was coming over and there were so many at that moment that I started counting them as I picked them up. There were too many to fit into one tissue. Moved to using wet wipes.

Stage five, or wet wipes cost too much: Every time you turn around, you see one. I got out the vacuum cleaner and left it in the living room for easy access. What a nice, decorative addition!

Stage six, or involving the kids: We also got out our handy bug vacuum, which sucks up and kills the bugs. My sons took over and used it at least 20 times a day.

Stage seven, or declaration of war: One tried to eat Kris’ grapefruit. One perched on my adorable baby’s head. Kris resealed the front door to help prevent this next year.

Stage eight, or the stage I didn’t know existed until right now: As I’m typing this, one just flew into my forehead and fell on my keyboard. Worst of all? I wasn’t even surprised.

I blamed it all on my house, and how living here is a lot like living outside. Boxelder bugs aren’t just on boxelders, they also love maple trees. My house is also smack dab in the middle of giant, buggy maple trees.

Then, a happy moment! Today on Facebook a friend posted: “Dear Boxelder Bugs, I didn’t mind sharing my home with you at first, but you have taken advantage of the situation. You have moved in by the hundreds. Please leave or I will resort to squishing you.”

Why does this make me happy? Because she lives in a brand new house in a brand new neighborhood. It’s not my old farmhouse’s fault after all. I don’t feel so alone!

Not that I ever feel that alone. Not with all these pets around.

Monday, March 21, 2011


All our family and neighbors got together for a big picnic today and we did a barn-raising, Amish-style. It's done!

Ha! Just kidding. Really, the electric company came and gave us a quote on how much it'll cost to have electricity at the new barn. They need to put up two more poles and run the line underground.

They gave him the meter box to put on the barn when it's built. You tell them when you're ready for the service and they come and do it. We've had them put up a pole before, when we installed a new irrigation system. It didn't take much time at all ... but longer than a lunch hour.

That's why the Amish get them done so quickly (and I'm basing all my Amish barn-raising knowledge on one scene in the movie Witness) - no poles.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sap and friends

I got a text message yesterday – “GOOD MORNING! I think this is a PERFECT syrup day!” So we went to visit our friends Annie and Jerry in Alto, MI.

They took us back to their sugar shack. A whole bunch of friends and neighbors and relatives all got together and went in the woods, following a tractor pulling a tank. We took the buckets off the tapped trees, poured them into bigger buckets, and poured them through a filter into the tank. Then they put the sap into a giant boiler, fueled by a wood-burning furnace. When it gets to 219 degrees, a valve opens, and the syrup comes out. You get one gallon of syrup from 35-50 gallons of sap, depending on the day.

Then we feasted on really great pancakes with syrup. I’d never seen a tree tapped, or gathered sap, and I can’t remember the last time I ate maple syrup. It was all great fun.

Before we gathered sap, we toured their big dairy farm. They milk about 1500 cows. I don’t tour a lot of farms so it was especially interesting to me to see their huge barns, parlor, and setup.

When I told a friend about this today, she asked, “So … do you consider a big farm like that your competition? Or is your competition something like soymilk?” Since her family owns a manufacturing business, she added, “Because we would never invite any of our competitors to our factory, and they would certainly never invite us to theirs.”

I said that I don’t really consider organic or soymilk or anything like that to be competition, since there's room for everyone. Our competition would just be people not drinking milk … but thankfully then there’s still ice cream and cheese and butter!

Our friends aren’t in the same co-op either, but it’s not like that. It’s not co-op vs. co-op, or farm vs. farm – mostly I think of it as all of us in it together. There aren’t a ton of dairy farms, and there aren’t a ton of young farmers. There’s the demand, and we’re all supplying it. As a result, there’s a camaraderie.

And really great pancakes with syrup. Did I mention those?

Buckets as far as the eye can see

The sap boiling equipment in the sugar shack

Dive in! Hose off!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sights and scenes

Man walks on moon! Wait, no. Farmer walks on feed pile. But both have that otherworldly effect, don't they?

It's March Madness! Which means we'd like to spend every hour watching exciting NCAA basketball games ... but that's not possible. No! We take breaks to eat (me) and work (Kris.)

He is currently outside abusing a sample section of what the panels in between the calves in the new barn might be. He's beaten it with a hammer, beaten it with the claw of the hammer, and is now about to smear manure on it and see later how easy it is to clean off. Definitely more fun than watching that MSU game last night.

Enjoy the games!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Teaching Thursday

- Faith Cullens, who works for MSU Extension as a dairy educator, asked me to speak at a technology training session for producers. So that's what I did today - talked to other producers about the technical aspects of my blog! Why? Because farmers want to tell you about what they do and why they do it.

- Kris did his regular work ... except in different clothes. That's right - it was 60 degrees! No coat, no hat, no gloves. I barely recognized him.

- Today Kris and I were talking to our vet - who is our friend - and one of them mentioned clean up bulls. (I'd never heard this term.) Apparently the clean up bull is the bull you bring in when you artificially inseminate your cows. In case the artificial insemination didn't take, there's still the bull present to try and get the cows pregnant. Our vet friend then offered up that his "completely unearned" nickname in vet school was CUB. Clean up bull. He said he wasn't even sure if his wife knew that. I pointed out that he had four kids, so she probably already knew it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Be our guest

The Michigan Ag Council asked me to contribute to The Farm Fresh Food Blog, which is written by farmers for consumers. It's hosted by, which they said gets 50 million page views a month.

Today I'm their guest blogger, with the subject 'From Moo to You', where I trace milk's path from our farm to your fridge. (And yes, that's our parlor!)

Many other farmers - beef, fruit, corn, and more - have been adding their posts on what they want consumers to know. I'll be blogging on that page occasionally and will link to it from here.

I personally think it's interesting because though I know a lot about dairy farms, I don't claim to know a lot about other kinds of farms . . . other than they're fun to visit. There are also lots of recipes, so if you like to eat, (oh, you do? Me too!) then you might want to check it out.

'From Moo to You' on

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Behind the scenes

Today Kris went to the MMPA (Michigan Milk Producers Association) 95th annual delegate meeting. He’s a voting delegate for our district.

It was an all-day meeting, including a retirement recognition for Velmar Green, who was on the board for 42 years. (He has a huge farm in our district – Green Meadows. He always says really nice things to me about Kris’ grandpa Wiff Wardin, who I never got to meet, but he knew well.)

Then they went over the resolutions, which are initiatives the co-op tries to implement. To name a few to give you an idea - working with Michigan State University to support the College of Ag and Natural Resources, enforce labeling claims on dairy products, and encouraging political efforts to help make Michigan bovine tuberculosis-free.

They awarded everyone who’d been a member for 35 years and they all said a little something. Kris said one woman said she was a city girl. The first time she drove up to the farm her husband-to-be and his brother were standing by the MMPA sign and she thought to herself, “I wonder what that stands for? Manly men potentially available?”

I was looking over the annual report and just thinking about everything that goes into a co-op. Resolutions, marketing, the board … I was in student council every year in school. As a result, the rest of my life, I could never look at a dance or a pep rally or an event without thinking about all the work that someone did to put it on. After you’re involved in the planning and organization - of anything - you always look behind the scenes.

So our farm is much larger than just our farm. We’re a business, but a co-op is a business in and of itself.

But on the small scale, today my oldest son said, “Look! That black and white one is my favorite.”

Big farm, big business, all working together with the little things that make you happy. And full of manly men, pointing out their favorite cow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Law of the frost

I didn’t know about frost laws until . . . well, last month. It’s one of those things I just never thought about before, though obviously many have, since there are laws about it!

The State of Michigan police put it this way: “The term 'frost law' refers to the amount of frost remaining in the ground. The warming and cooling of the ground during the up and down weather of spring causes the pavement to heave and buckle, creating potholes and broken pavement.” March, April, and May are always reduced load months, but the road commission declares when the frost laws are off, and people can start hauling regular big loads again.

So this is a time of waiting here at the farm. It’s super messy, because it doesn’t get cold enough at night. The fields start to thaw, but the frost isn’t out of the ground, so you can’t haul manure or you’ll wreck your fields. Our dirt driveway is a mess, giving you an idea of what a tractor would do to a field. We can’t start the calf barn until the frost laws come off, because they can’t haul the equipment here because it’s too heavy. We can’t dig a well until then either.

You can check with the road commission for when the frost laws come off, but Kris said it happens by word of mouth pretty quickly. People on the road commission often call trucking companies and grain elevators to let them know regular business can commence.

It’ll be a day of celebration here! There’s no sound like a gravel truck barreling down our road at 70 mph to let you know . . . the laws have changed. And get out of the way.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I mentioned before that a reliable sign of spring is a dead skunk. Today, while running, I not only saw a dead skunk, but I saw four robins! They were all together, perched on the electric fence, probably wondering why on earth they came back so early. (Answer: they get the worm.)

I went to a Red Wings hockey game last night in Detroit. After the game, we were part of the outdoor crowd all being herded toward the people mover, slowly. My friend said, "Do you feel like we're like your cattle?" Then an intoxicated man came pushing by, falling into her. Then some people cut in line, and a guy by us yelled, "We wait in line in America!" since the opposing team was from Canada. But everyone laughed when he said it - including the Canadians. No one was really mad - they shrugged off the pushy guy, and everyone was good natured and waiting happily. There was no biting wind, no snow, and most people weren't wearing coats.

Never mind that it's sort of rain/snowing. Or that it's still cold and windy and not spring-like at all. With dead and live animal sightings, turning our clocks tonight, and the most telling sign - easygoing hockey fans - everyone can tell spring is on its way all the same.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Business opportunity

Tracy told me she did a deep conditioning treatment on her hair and that it really made a difference. I wanted to do it too, and asked her what she bought. She said she didn’t remember the name, but that it was in a brown envelope and it cost about a dollar.

I went to Wal-Mart with the boys and looked for it. I didn’t pay that much attention to the brown envelope that cost $.98 because it was the only brown envelope. I figured it had to be the same thing.

That night, I got into the shower after going to running club (3 miles) to try it out. It was then that I looked at the name on the package: Henna ‘n’ Placenta.

I reread it: Placenta.

It had an asterisk beside it that led me to the bottom to inform me: *animal placenta.

Is that better? I wondered.

But I was IN the shower WITH dry hair WITH the envelope in my hand. It was really hard to open. I tried not to take it as a sign that I shouldn’t use it. I gingerly at first, then vigorously applied it to my hair. If I was placenting my hair, I was going to go all the way. Besides, Tracy said it really worked.

I got out and asked Kris, “Did you see the name on this envelope?”

“Yes! It’s disgusting!” Kris said. “You really used it?”

I texted my sister. “Was it called henna placenta??!!”

She sent back, “No. Dr Miracle’s Deep Conditioning Treatment.”

Darn. Now I was the sole person with placenta in my hair, and even Kris knew it.

The next morning I got up and put it in a ponytail, because I didn’t like the idea of the residue being anywhere near my face. I resolved to shower as soon as the boys got up.

I heard Cole calling me, and Kris and I went in his room at the same time. I hugged Cole and the first words out of his mouth were, “Mom, your hair smells like running club.” Kris and I laughed so hard.

So I guess that’s the tradeoff. My hair looks nice, but smells exactly like sweaty clothes.


What my friends and family said when I told them this:

Julie: Annoying, since you get animal placenta for free. 98 cents down the drain (so to speak).

Suzie: You could have your own perfume called Running Club. I am actually impressed that Wal-Mart openly sells a product with placenta in it. We might as well be in San Francisco, who knew?

Dad: All I can say is that if you only smelled like running club, you did all right.

Mom: Now I think about all those placentas during calving season – there’s a possible market for them! You and Kris could brew something.

Anyone interested? I'll only charge you $.50.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thanks, bulls

It’s the time of the year when we don’t need bulls any more, because the cows have been bred.

We bought 16 bulls this year to breed about 300 cows and 100 heifers. This is the way we breed them: we buy them from a few different farms to get a good mix in the gene pool. (We never breed them from our farm’s bulls, because they’d be reproducing with distant family members. And we all know what happened to the royal families that did that.)

Then, we put them in the pasture with the cattle. The bulls then breed all the heifers and cows as soon as possible. Sometimes the bulls are so busy doing their job, that they don’t take time to eat and get really skinny. Last year Kris was worried when he saw a bull splayed out in the pasture, head down and all stretched out. He went to check him and he was fine . . . just exhausted. They’re very dedicated workers.

Cows gestate for nine months, so we put the bulls in with them on July 30, so they’ll start having calves about May 1. Obviously, they don’t all get pregnant the first month they’re with the bulls, but they usually get pregnant within the first few months.

This isn’t the way all farms do it. Lots of them use artificial insemination. But for our low-cost, low-maintenance herd, it works for us to let nature run its course.

After they’ve done their job, we sell them. Other people buy them to breed their cattle or to eat.

Sometimes we get the same price when we sell the bull as we paid for the bull in the first place. Pretty good deal for us. And not a bad temp job for the bull.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cart it up

Kris’ grandpa built two golf courses. His family still owns and runs one of them. When Kris was growing up, he worked on it most summers. He’s golfed his whole life, really.

So when he started talking about a calf cart, I didn’t know this – it looks like a really tough golf cart.

That’s because that’s what it is. It has diamond plate in the back, it goes fast, it looks durable.

He got it to help him feed the calves in the new barn. Instead of making numerous trips by foot to get milk and feed for the calves, you can drive up and down the aisle and take everything with you. It just makes the whole process speedier.

I think if I pulled that monster up to the course, it just might improve my golf game, too.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Signed, sealed, and delivered ... to the wrong place

I love eating cereal. I’ll eat it for any meal, any snack. It’s been this way for years. Now that we have kids, we have even more cereal in the house. Once a friend was over and opened our cupboard and said, “I counted. You have nine boxes of cereal in there. You have four gallons of milk in the fridge. Do you eat anything else?” Yes, I do. I eat a healthy, balanced diet. But if there were vegetable cereal, I’d give it a shot.

So today our feed company, which delivers to us, called to tell us that they had emptied someone else’s feed into our bin. (We add their mix to the feed we’ve grown and harvested - corn silage, haylage and corn snaplage.)

The problem was that we didn’t want to feed them someone else’s feed, because changing their rations could potentially make them give less milk. When you change feed rations at all, it takes them a little while to get used to it, and changing it to this different feed and then back to the regular when it was emptied – like within five days – might bother them. Plus, the feed mix is balanced based on the composition of our silage. (We had it tested before we ordered the mix.)

They came again and put our right feed in a bin we don’t normally use. We were wondering how they were going to get the wrong feed out of the bin, because it goes directly into our mixer. They said there’s such thing as a vacuum truck. It’s going to come and suck out all the wrong feed.

I asked Kris what’s in our feed ration, and he said it’s a mix of soybean meal, minerals, and a little sugar.

“The sugar is actually ground up Froot Loops,” Kris said. “You can see them, and it smells like them.”

Wait a second. Our cows are eating cereal too? This is a cross-species favorite?

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Cereal just goes so well with milk.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Every day they scrape manure into a manure pit. But then you need to get the manure out, right? Or it would be one unpleasant farm. No one would come and visit us.

So we pump the manure out of the pits. It’s run off of a tractor. You hook up the manure pump to the PTO shaft of the tractor, and the impeller - which looks like a giant fan - sucks up the manure and pushes it through the pipe into a diagonal pipe that takes it into the spreader. Let me know if I’m killing you with my super-technical terms.

Mike thinks there’s something wrong with either the bearing or the universal joint on the main shaft that runs the pump. It started vibrating a lot. (Every machine’s sign that something is about to explode. This is also where the normal ‘kick it’ method comes into play. Oh, that’s just me? It worked once. Not on a manure pump.)

They took it out and are working on it. Since it sits in manure mostly all the time, you can expect it needs occasional maintenance.

But when it is working properly, they then drive the spreader to a field and spread the manure on it. Why on our fields? Because every farm needs to do something with the manure that cattle generate, and it’s the best fertilizer ever.

So the next time you pass a spreader on the road, take a deep breath. As they love writing on foods in the grocery store, it’s ALL NATURAL.

The manure pump

The tractor, spreader, and pipe by the pit

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rain drain

We had a lot of rain yesterday – even thunder and lightning! As a result, today at the calf barn Kris had to drain the feeder.

They have J-bunks, which are troughs that are (surprise!) shaped like the letter ‘J’. They hold feed but they also catch water, so when it rains they fill up. There’s a little drain hole in the cement, but it can only be so big, or otherwise the feed would come out too.

So Kris today took a wire and cleaned out the hole. He waited until it got jammed up again, a few times, and cleaned it out until all the water had run out.

There’s feed in the trough, since they eat pretty much around the clock, and they would eventually eat and drink everything in there, mushy or not. But they don’t prefer wet feed – they like nice, fresh, dry feed. So we think. They haven’t voiced (or mooed) that or anything.

Kris said that as he was standing there he was glad the calves are doing so well. Even in this up and down weather, which sometimes bothers them, he didn’t hear one cough.

The boys and I also watched Kris clean out our tub drain the other day. Even though I’m the only person in the house with long hair, it’s Kris’ job to untwist a wire hanger every so often and clean it. I encourage it . . . I wouldn’t want to deprive him of a practice session. I want him to be the best J-bunk drain cleaner he can be. I think he does too, even though he hasn’t voiced that or anything.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


We seasonally calve, which means all calves are born within about three months. So to build a barn to raise calves, it has to be bigger than a normal dairy our size would build, since they’re all going to be babies at the same time. Imagine all the baby stuff you have for one baby … multiplied by 150 … spread all over your house …

So we want to build a barn that can convert from a calf barn into a transition barn, which means it’ll work for both new calves and older calves their first year of life.

The barn will have custom made gates. The calves will have individual housing, then when they’re about eight weeks old, we’re going to group them into groups of four.

They’re alone in the beginning so you can pay close attention to their eating, they don’t have to compete for food, and hopefully if one gets sick they won’t all catch it. (This doesn’t work in preschool for kids, but we try.)

Their pens have two buckets in the front – one for feed, and one for milk and water. Once they get to the age they don’t drink milk anymore is when we’ll pull the panels out and turn it into a group pen. They eat out of a feeder after that.

We’re looking to build it this year. Currently, Kris raises calves in a barn that is over 100 years old. It used to be where my grandpa milked the cows. So it’s not exactly set up for raising calves.

But it is set up for pictures. We’ll miss the old calf barn … but I’m pretty sure the calves won’t.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


First, the weather report - it's warming up outside. I taught the boys 'March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,' but since it's pretty lamb-y outside right now, I hope it doesn't go backward this year.

Second, the building report. Kris met with the company who's going to do the digging work and based on the location of the barn, we might not have to bring in any dirt to level it out. If we don't, it'd be a big cost saving. He's also getting an estimate on digging a new well. We just had one put in two years ago, but we need an additional one because the new barn will be too far away from it.

Third, what needs fixing this week? Just one tractor. We're still trying a few things before we take it in.

Fourth, I saw a sure sign of spring. Though robins are admittedly the best sign, I saw a dead skunk in our road. As soon as it warms up every year, the skunks come out and get hit by cars. Is there a sweeter smell than the scent of spring? ... It's no wonder that I kind of like the smell of skunk.