Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Catching up before we get caught up

Hello, y'all...it's been a while. After a long blogging hiatus attributed primarily to my preference to nap during meal breaks rather than type away on my old, slow desktop computer, I'm back to let you know what's been happening on Gilmer Dairy Farm and also with myself.

can't plant corn, but the grass is green
If there's one word I could use to describe the first 3.5 months of the year, it would be "wet". We're currently in a holding pattern of sorts, unable to begin planting corn or harvesting spring forages until we can string together several days of sunny weather. More rain is likely for the next several days, so we'll be out of the field for at least another week. Once we finally get favorable weather conditions for field work, I foresee some longer-than-normal days in my future.

On the cow front, we have been turning our cows out on grass for supplemental morning grazing over the past three weeks. We currently have 212 cows milking, and they are holding steady at an average of 66 pounds of milk a day each (we peaked at 70 last month). We won't be having many calve or dry off in the next few weeks, but we'll start seeing some turnover by late May. Meanwhile, it's time for our younger heifers to receive their vaccination boosters, which we started administering today.

Personally, I'm about as "free" as I have been in a while. My term as one of USFRA's "Faces of Farming and Ranching" came to a conclusion at the end of last year, and I am no longer a part of any other groups that would have me traveling on a regular basis. And I'm telling you, it sure is nice to take a step back for a while! I'm getting more done on the farm, spending more time with my wife and kids, and will hopefully be a little more visible around our community. I might even be able to set aside enough time to play golf once a week...though I doubt it. 

Between now and whenever I blog again, I'd love for you to connect with me via the social media channels over on the right side of the page. You might even catch me live streaming on Periscope if you play your cards right (and have an iOS device). And for you locals, let me know if you'd like me to come talk to your group about my farm or farming in general one evening...I'd love to do that once or twice a month once we get caught up on our farm work. Until next time, y'all have a "dairy" good day.

glad to be spending more time
with my cows and my kids

Friday, September 5, 2014

Farm Photo Friday (9/5/14)

There's an old joke shared by dairy farmers (and I presume a few other folks) that we celebrate Labor Day by laboring. That was true for us once again on the farm, and was also the case for a couple of our pregnant cows. Cow no.086 went into labor Monday afternoon and easily birthed a heifer calf. Cow no.038 didn't have it quite so easy.

my father helping cow no.038 deliver her calf
My father made a final check on the cows in our maternity pasture when we finished milking Monday afternoon. He noticed that no.038 appeared to be having labor pains, but with no visible sign of a calf being born. We herded her to the working pen so we could help her have her calf, and dad discovered that it had a leg turned backward at the knee which was preventing it from being delivered. After "going in her" and straightening the calf's leg, he attached the OB chains to it's front ankles and begin to pull. It wasn't a very big calf, and it pulled rather easily. Unfortunately though, it had already died prior to our intervention.

That's the way it goes on the farm sometimes. Our cows rarely have calving problems, and even when they do the calf is usually delivered alive and healthy. This was just one of those times that it didn't work out...a bad way to end a holiday.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dairy Good Questions (9/4/14)

This week's edition of "Dairy Good Questions" is going to be a quick one..

DGQ 1) What is a mineral tub for?

Answer: Mineral tubs are used to provide supplemental vitamins and minerals to cows that are out on pasture and rely on grazing or hay as their primary diet. These tubs contain trace minerals such as selenium, zinc, and cobalt, and are available in several different formulations depending on the animals' nutritional needs. The tubs we provide for our heifers and dry cows come with the minerals and vitamins suspended in a molasses-based liquid that is poured into a plastic tub and hardens into a block. Cows will spend a few minutes a day licking the mineral tub, seeming to instinctively know both when they need it and when they've had enough.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to send your questions to me any time!