Thursday, June 28, 2012

Farming and I Grow It Video

This video is all over the internet - who knew a farming video would be the next one to go viral? 

The Peterson brothers (Greg, Nathan, and Kendal) from Assaria, Kansas, parody LMFAO's song "I'm Sexy and I Know It," about farming.  It's "I'm Farming and I Grow It." 

The lyrics are funny, the shots are nice, and the guys looked like they had a blast doing it.

Read more here:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


The first house I lived in didn't have air conditioning.  Neither did the second house I lived in, any of my dorm rooms, or any of my six apartments.  When I moved to North Carolina - THAT apartment had air.  First time!  However, it was also my first time living in a southern climate.  I hated to turn it on - I'd rather go swimming.  I think Kris turned it on twice in the year we lived there.  (But I really appreciated it in other places!) 

Our first home we bought together - no air.  Our present home - no air.  But what do we have?  Box fans!  We each have our own personal box fan in our bedrooms.  They work great. 

We recently put fans in the dairy barn for the cows, and today we started putting fans in the new calf barn.  Cattle like to be cooler than people.  The studies show they like it to be about 50 degrees.  Obviously, it's not going to always be 50 degrees in the summer, but the fans help keep it cool and comfortable.  With fans, you can definitely tell the difference just by feel, let alone a thermometer. 

It's not air, but it's close.  It's good enough for them, it's good enough for us!  We're big fans!

Adding fans to the calf barn

Monday, June 25, 2012

Faces of Agriculture

Elizabeth Martin and Jamie Rhoades started a new blog called 'Faces of Agriculture.'  They aim to show "the human side of farming and ranching beyond the machines and science." 

They started two weeks ago and already have great stories and pictures from two different ranches in Texas, a ranch in South Dakota, and now us!

You can check out the feature here: Truth or Dairy with Kris and Carla Wardin

Funny thing ... they asked me to submit pictures of us on our farm.  I have seven million of Kris and the boys, but could not find even one of me on the farm.  But now, my sons are so old (five last week) they can take pictures!  Here is Cole's first photo contribution to the blog. 

Friday, June 22, 2012


Every year we keep most of the heifer calves that are born.  We take care of them as babies, then put them on pasture in the spring.  When they're just over a year old we put bulls in with them.  They get pregnant, then nine months later have a calf.  When you sell the old cows or they die, you constantly replenish your herd.

But what if you want to milk more cows?  Then you can buy them from other farms.  Kris has recently purchased cattle from our employee, who also has a dairy farm. 

The boys and I went over to see them.  I asked if I'd be able to tell our cattle from the new cattle.  Kris said yes, because they had different eartags.

I didn't know he meant they had names:

When I was growing up, we named our cattle because they were registered Guernseys.  It's like having paperwork for dogs.  You know their entire heritage and have the papers to prove it.  We also named them.  I well remember that the heifer I led in the 4-H Fair was named Golly.  I planned that her calf would be named Gee, and her calf named Whiz.  You see how it goes. 

Our cattle, since it's easier for our record-keeping, have numbers.  But no matter what they're called, they all had the same view yesterday - irrigated pasture that will be theirs next year!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Birth day

Today Kris delivered a set of bull/heifer twins.  One of them was backward, so he had to pull it.

Then, it happened again!  In the same day, a second set of bull/heifer twins, with one backward that he had to pull!  Coincidence, or are these cows playing tricks on him?  With their wily, backward-calf-having ways ...

They were four of the eight calves born today.  That's a big day for this time of year.

We went down to see the calves.  The oldest ones look huge, and even the tiny preemie doesn't look small any longer. 

Kris also had a lot of meetings.  Five guys came over to meet with him, all on different items to fix, buy, or plan to buy.   

It was also 90 degrees.  And it's not even officially summer yet.  More heat, more meetings, and even more calves to come.  Hopefully not backward.

Monday, June 18, 2012


89 heifer calves

7/10 of an inch of rain

189 bales of alfalfa

0 days until the evening calf chore summer help starts

100% satisfaction ending the day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Family Fun at the Farm

The boys and I attended Family Fun at the Farm today, while Kris volunteered in the milk parlor.  It was a great event!  At Jem-Lot Dairy, people could see cows being milked, feed calves, make butter, see pigs and baby chicks, eat ice cream, see farm machinery ... and more!  It was all so well-organized, informative, and yes - fun, just as advertised.  Way to go, committee! 

It's a lot of work to have one of these, and I'm really grateful to the farmers who do it.  In fact, the farmers hosting this one - Leroy and Stephanie Schafer - also baled our alfalfa yesterday and today.  They do what's called custom baling.  That means farmers pay them to bale their fields with their giant baler.

We baled this entire second cutting of alfalfa because we like to have the bales to feed the cattle.  This is in addition to feeding them the alfalfa chopped - feeding them dry alfalfa versus fermented, chopped alfalfa gives them a different type of feed.  It's dry, it's longer, and it forms a sort of mat for their rumen. 

Kris was taking bales out of the field until he couldn't see anymore last night.  There was a chance of rain and he wanted to get as much done as possible - because you don't want the bales to get rained on.  So as they're being baled, you pick them up, put them on a wagon, take the wagon to the barn, unload them with a skid steer into the barn.  Repeat!  Until finished!

We were really rooting for it to rain today ... and just as it started to rain, we were just about finished with the fields.  A few got rained on, but we'll just feed those right away.

So!  Lots going on.  Kris is busy, like all farmers this time of year.  But in case you didn't know ... June is Dairy Month.  It's a good time for it.  There's no time for anything else! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Red, red ...

A friend shared this picture on Facebook.  I was looking at it on my phone, so it was pretty small.  This is what I saw:

What was your immediate thought?  Mine was not rose petals and a sweet proposal.  Apparently my mind is in birthing cow mode. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What the calves are eating

You know you can buy cat food and dog food ... you can also buy calf food.  Funny thing - the industry term for it is calf 'feed' - not calf 'food'.  But it's all the same idea.     

When the calves are little, like most animals, they need to start on solids.  First, they only have milk and water.  When they're three days old, we start filling a pail with calf feed.  Ours come in pellets.  It's called calf starter.   

It looks like this:

When we're doling out the fresh milk from the back of the calf cart, Kris also carries the calf feed to put in their pails.

We have 85 heifer calves now!   Here they are on one side of the barn, waiting expectantly for their food and milk.  It reminds me of being on an airplane when everyone watches the flight attendant coming down the aisle, gets a drink, and immediately consumes it. 

My sons were eating breakfast yesterday.  They like to get different cereals all the time, and they'd picked Fiber One.  Kris said, "That looks just like calf feed."   

And so it does:

Calf feed, kid food.  It's all the same idea.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Yesterday Kris had chased a cow into the barn because he could see she was going to have a calf ... backward.  He pulled it and it was fine - a nice little heifer!

He went back a little later to check on her and saw that the cow was having ... another calf!  Twins.  It was a bull.  He and the boys got to watch her give birth.  (The boys told me about it later.  It seems pretty commonplace to them now.  They've seen twice as many births as I have this year because they go out with Kris so much.)

There were no calves born on Friday, but there were plenty yesterday.  Of course - it was Saturday!  Amazing how these pregnant cows know what day of the week it is.  Between seeing friends and graduation open houses, Kris always goes to check for calves.  This means he drives in the pasture, finds the calves in the grass - hopefully their mother is taking care of them nearby - chases the mother up to the barn, takes the calf to the barn and feeds it colostrum.

The timing doesn't always work out perfectly.  Depending on when the cows were last milked, there's not always immediate access to fresh colostrum, so Kris freezes bottles of it as a second choice.  That way there's always some available.

So a frozen bottle of colostrum takes, Kris estimates, about two hours to thaw completely.

Luckily, we live close to the barn, so while he's thawing milk, he can come and pick up more twins - ours. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pure Michigan milk

My Michigan Milk Messenger magazine (that sounds like a tongue-twister) had an article today about the Jorgensen and Stuever families, whose farms were featured in this Pure Michigan ad.  They - like us - are MMPA members, and Kroger is a great MMPA customer. 

Check it out ... does it make you want to drink up?  Play baseball?  Watch more videos on YouTube?  All of the above?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Preemie calf

A cow birthed the smallest calf I've ever seen.  The little heifer is healthy and fine, but she must be premature.  It's hard to show just how small she is.  She's half the size of the other calves.  She's as tiny as a goat.


Impossible to tell her size, right?  So to give some perspective, here's her head next to my phone. Oddly, this picture also serves to make my phone look giant.     

The boys got even more ready than usual to work with Kris today - i.e. they were wearing both boots and hats.  They rarely have either.  (Not just boots, but shoes at all.) 


Kris asked them to empty the calf buckets and they scurried off to do it.  Not only do they enjoy hanging out with Kris, but they actually seem to enjoy doing the work. 

Yeah.  That seems like a lot of buckets.

Every year, the work will be the same, but the boys will be different.  The barn helps give perspective. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

June day

The cattle are across the field from our house again. 

So if you're driving by, take a look! 

Meanwhile, inside the house ... I noticed at the last dairy communicator meeting that some of the other participants had super-nice nametags.  I asked how to order one, and they were surprised I didn't already have one.  So, in the mail today I got this:

As an added bonus, it's held toegether by magnets!  When I go to meetings I often regret pinning on my nametags because I snag my shirts.  Official-looking nametag, check.  Undamaged clothing, check.  This can only improve my communication skills.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rainy weekend

It rained!  Hooray!  We got two inches.  What a relief.  Kris told me, "As your dad says your grandpa always said: 'That was a million dollar rain.'"  I never heard either of them say that, but I liked it.  That's even good third hand.

Kris took the afternoon off to see ... his new nephew!  Not even 24 hours old.  Plus, his sister from Texas was visiting.  It was rainy and windy the whole day but none of us complained.  All three men there are farmers for a living. 

We even got to see some friends last night - they're farmers in the Grand Rapids area.  We asked them if they could meet for dinner at 8:30 p.m. in a town 40 minutes from each of us. 

My friend texted back, "If it's raining, Jerry won't be able to spray.  I'll keep you posted." 

It rained, and we got to go out.  As we were separating, Jerry said, "Nice hanging out on these stormy nights with you guys!"

I thought that farming was always a risky endeavor because your job depends so much on the weather.  But who knew that your social life was affected by it, too?  Rainy Friday night - free time for all of us!