Monday, June 17, 2019

Mid-June update

Well, folks, we've made it past the mid-point of June. And though we've been very busy on the farm these past few weeks, we still have a whole lot of work ahead of us.

This past week was a productive one...and unseasonably comfortable to boot! I sprayed and sidedressed our last remaining acreage of "hill ground" corn, and now all it needs is a few rains between now and harvest time. I was also able to drill roughly 40 acres of pearl millet seed into the ground which I hope to see pegging up by the end of this week. We also fertilized our hayfields, some with a commercial blend and a couple others with manure slurry. We have several pastures that need to be sprayed over the next couple of weeks, and our bottomland corn will likely need to be sprayed next week as well. We have a pretty good chance of rain every afternoon this week, and that will have a big impact on how much or how little tractor time I get over the next 7-10 days.

Our milking herd is still holding at 188 cows, though I figure we will dry off a few of the pregnant ones toward the end of the week. We opened up our final silage pit on Monday, and I'm not sure we won't run out before the first of this year's silage crop has been harvested and adequately ensiled. Reducing the number of cows in the milking herd along with their reduced summertime appetites will help extend our supply a bit, as will presumably our first cutting of millet. If we can make it through August off last year's crop, great! If not, we may have to buy and feed a "one shot" built-in-roughage ration for a couple of weeks.

Depending on weather, we may start vaccinating our heifers and steers before the week's up. If not, we'll jump on that job early next week. I figure it will take at least three days to work through them, though we'll probably hold off on the oldest heifers until we can get a "preg check" lined up with our veterinarian. There is usually a lot of loose manure (and a few loose words) flying around the catch pen when we work heifers, but I'll try to keep my clothes...and my clean as I can.

I'll leave y'all with last week's MooTube Minute. I hope you all have a dairy good week!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Farm Update - 5/31/19

It's been another hot, dry week on our farm, but we've managed to survive it and get a little bit accomplished along the way.

The most important thing going into this week was to get the last 35 acres of this year's corn silage crop planted down in our bottomland, and to that end we were successful. We spent the first half of the week getting the ground worked up and fertilized, and I spend Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday running our four-row planter across the dusty fields. I looked back through my records and figured out that our five-year average planting date in those fields is June 2, so we beat it by a couple of days. That wraps up our corn planting for the year, and next we'll move on to a few acres of a pearl millet variety we are trying out. Well, we'll move on to that once it rains again and softens the ground a bit.

2019 corn silage crop...planted.

We really are starting to hurt for rain now. Our earliest planted corn is ready to be side-dressed but I'm hesitant to do it until we get some rain in the forecast. The fields look alright enough in the mornings, but as the sun starts bearing down it's obvious the corn needs a drink. Same goes with our pastures. I did help out one of the hayfields we harvested last week by spreading eight honeywagon loads of manure slurry on it this afternoon, and I imagine that will continue for a couple other fields on Monday and Tuesday.

On the cow side, we currently have 188 in the milking herd. The heat is driving them out of the pasture around mid-morning and into the loafing barn where they can cool down under fans and sprinklers. It's had a negative effect on milk production, but we're pretty much in line with where we expect to be this time of year. Milking times are running around 2.75 hours in the mornings and just over 2 hours in the afternoons.

cow no. 603 serving as a lawnmooer outside the milking barn

If you'd like to get all this information in a condensed, video form, be sure to check out the MooTube Minute I post at the end of each week. I used to post farm videos all the time, but both I and my viewers seemed to get burned out after a few years. I'm really enjoying easing back into it though, and hopefully it will help folks learn more about what happens around here.

And with that I'll bid you farewell. Thanks for your support, and have a "dairy" good weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Farm & Life Update (5/16/19)

originally posted Thursday morning at 6am

Good morning from the parlor where Dad and I have now milked 170 of our 193 cows and the sky’s changing hues herald the sun’s impending arrival. Fans have been circulating cooler fresh air through the barn to keep both us and the cows comfortable, a task that will be increasing difficult as we approach and soon enter the summer.

Despite two flat tires slowing progress yesterday and one of our farmhands needing off at least part of today, I think we are still on track to get our “hill ground” corn planted by the end of the week. If so and we stay relatively dry heading into next week, we could be looking at a run of days that are extremely busy even by dairy farm standards. There are hay fields to clip, bottomland fields to plant, corn to sidedress and spray, calves to vaccinate, and of course the cows still have to be milked twice daily.

On top of the farm work, I have a family to spend time with, Wednesday night Bible study lessons to prepare for June, cross-state meetings to attend, phone calls to make, and I’m sure a number of other responsibilities that aren’t immediately coming to mind. It can be overwhelming if I try to look too far beyond the horizon, so I just try to make the best of today and put myself in a good starting position for tomorrow. There is such a thing as being too busy, but Luke 12:48b says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected." The Lord’s given me opportunities to be useful in different ways to different people and He’ll sustain me as long as I'm faithful to stick to the path He’s laid out for me.

So let’s all work diligently today but remember that our worth isn’t solely defined by our work. Take time to smell the roses, extend kindness to your neighbor, and have a dairy good day.