Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Faint rainbow

Last night I was sitting on the porch swing with the kids and we saw a rainbow over the pasture.  One of the boys said, "It's not even raining!" 

Then a few minutes later ... we had a giant downpour.  It was really windy, too.  Some other farmers told me it blew their wheat down, and I felt so bad for them.  (We don't grow wheat so we buy straw from other farmers.  Regardless of who we buy from, I always feel bad for people with damaged crops.  There was even hail damage to crops last week where Kris' parents live.  Weather!  It's the worst!)

Today it rained another half inch or so more.  Kris told me he's torn.  The rain is great for the corn!  It's great for the alfalfa!  It's horrible for getting our barn and manure lagoon built!  They were planning on doing the cement on the manure lagoon tomorrow ... but now it's way too wet.  The builders are trying to figure out how to get back their big equipment to the barn without tearing up our ground or getting stuck.  We're also having a couple of fields tiled, and IT'S WET FOR THAT TOO.

Of course, there's nothing we can do about the weather, except try to stand it, focus on the positive, and appreciate the rainbows when we see them.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Is that a hematoma or a subcutaneous abscess?

Did you get your latest issue of Working Ranch?

The summer one, with Working Ranch Junior in it?

With the article called 'Bumps and Lumps?"

Publisher Tim O'Byrne contacted me a few months ago and asked if he could publish my photos from this blog post for the magazine.

Is that a hematoma or a subcutaneous abscess?  Of course, we all want to know!  Well, this article has your answer ... and some photos by me.  If you look closely, you can see my name on the side. 

You can also see Russ, our local vet!  Focus on him and the words.  The pictures aren't quite as appealing.  Unless you're on an actual Working Ranch.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fitting in

Today was the big day to switch bulk tanks.

It had to be done really quickly and well.  The old one had to be taken out after the morning milking and the new one had to be installed before the afternoon milking.  (Because the milk has to be stored somewhere so the milk truck can pick it up.  And so we can get a check.)

Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication and ... the foundation of the bulk tank wasn't the right size.  So they had to build a temporary foundation to install the tank just so the afternoon milking could be done.

Stressful.  Kris was home to pick up his lunch and as I talked to him he got a phone call about 1) buying a new piece of machinery to replace one that just broke and 2) getting new tires for the chopper.  He also had to get a new quad this week because our old quad broke.

Ah, such is the farm business, right?  I read a farming friend's post tonight and one of their alfalfa fields didn't come up, so they have to start all over and replant.  On a much smaller scale, today in my garden I accidentally weeded my spinach.  (Wow, does spinach look like a weed.) 

Maybe today was off on all farms and tomorrow all the pieces will fit.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Milk on a hot day - yes or no?

The kids came home from school with a portfolio of this year's work.  This was my son's answer to: 'Draw a picture of your favorite thing to drink.'
I was happy Cole chose milk ... and couldn't help but remember a scene from Anchorman. I swear he's never seen it. But it seems he and Ron Burgundy have a disagreement. Please excuse the language in the video.


This is actually how we always dress on trips.
Really, we went to the Young Cooperator Dairy Policy and Legislative Forum with the National Milk Producers Federation in DC. Part of the meeting involves going to speak with your congressman and senator's offices about dairy issues.
Since it was in the middle of calving, building the barn, and doing field work, it was not the best time for Kris to leave, but he quickly acclimated. Turns out it's much easier sitting in meetings and talking than it is doing manual labor for an entire day!  
Today things were back to normal.  112 heifer calves so far and three bulls born today.  None of them care about governmental regulations (that they've said), but we do.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cutting one is done


Finally, despite all the rain and machinery malfunctions, we finished our first cutting of alfalfa. That meant yesterday was the time to put plastic and tires on top of the pile of chopped up feed.
It's a really tough job, physically. I mean, you've worked all day and then it's time to carry tires up a giant pile? GREAT!
In a strange twist, these are my sons' favorite days to work on the farm. It's because it's something they can do (sort of) without the danger of getting hurt. There's no machinery around and all the guys are there, talking and joking with them, so for them - it's a lot of fun. Plus, they all eat pizza together afterward!
Every year they get a little better at it ... at some point they're probably going to ask to get paid in more than food.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Yesterday was quite the day ... while they were trying to harvest alfalfa, the chopper broke.  They fixed it and started again and a different part broke. This couldn't be fixed by us, which meant Kris had to go to another town and rent a chopper head.  At the same time, Kody missed a step on the chopper and cut his leg open.  He went to the ER.  Then a cow was having problems. 

At that exact moment, when Kris was dealing with these things and hooking up a trailer to go and pick up the chopper head - is when the boys and I visited the barn and learned that all of this was going on!  We didn't stay long, since we were no help at all.

Kris came back with the chopper head and they chopped last night and today.  It all turned out okay ... but when machinery breaks and the alfalfa is drying and rain is in the forecast - one can't help but be a little stressed!

I couldn't do anything to help except the usual, which is to make him dinner when he comes home.  (Everyone loves a warm meal at 10:00 p.m.!) 

I don't know how the chopping went today yet.  But just in case, I made dessert, too.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Farm tour for 4-H

My friend Heidi asked if she could bring some Cloverbuds out to tour the farm.  Cloverbuds are kids who are just getting started in 4-H

So I had the privilege of taking around a nice, smart group of kids.  They asked really good questions, were eager to learn, and liked climbing on the tractors, of course. 

I ordered some tour swag from UDIM (which every Michigan dairy farmer gives money to), and the kids liked their milk-themed coloring book, pencils, crayons, food clips, etc.

What they also loved was answering questions for a Gogurt!  I said I'd ask a question and the person who answered correctly would get a Gogurt.  The boy who answered first said, "How many can I get?!"  (I'd only brought a few extras, so I couldn't give him more.  But I liked the enthusiasm.)

They also got to see a REAL LIVE FARMERS doing REAL LIVE WORK.  Which is exactly how I introduced Kris and my dad.

But really, the Gogurt generated the most excitement.  Even tractors can't compete with free food.