Monday, August 27, 2007

The week ahead

I don't think we'll run out of things to do this coming week. If all goes as planned (though it seldom does):
  • We should finish chopping our corn this afternoon. That means spending time tomorrow covering our silage pit. If not, we'll be busy fixing another breakdown.
  • We're due to weigh milk this week, if we can get our schedule coordinated with the tester.
  • We need to rebuild a few fences, especially one around the pond in our milk cow pasture.
  • A pretty fair stand of signalgrass has come up in our wheat fields, and would make good hay. We'll work towards cutting and baling it if they knock back the rain chances (we'll gladly take the rain, though).
  • Speaking of wheat, Dad and I will start deciding how many acres of wheat, oats, and ryegrass we'll need to plant in a few weeks, as well as the fertilizer and tillage requirements.
  • I need to spray some herbicide in a few places and kill weeds.
  • Nights this week will also be busy, as we've got a service at our church tonight, our county's Farmers Federation's annual meeting Tuesday night, we'll go watch our beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs take their annual beating from LSU on Thursday, and then Friday I believe our hometown high school will open their football season at home.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dairy Star article

Dairy Star, a publication out of Minnesota, recently did a story on us in their "Dairying Across America" feature. You can read it in the "Recent Farm News" section of our farm web page.

A Dairyman in the "Heart of Dixie": Drought, dwindling resources challenge Alabama Farmer

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A morning for moving cows

We spent most of this morning trying to move a fews cows to different pastures. To start with, we had to catch one group of our dry cows, separate the eight cows closest to calving, and put them in our calving pasture so we can keep a closer eye on them. We also dried off six cows this morning and took them to the same pasture we pulled the previously mentioned eight from. Then, we had to move two cows that recently freshened from our calving pasture into our milking herd pasture.

All of this was made possible due to the fact that our corn silage chopper was broken down, and the replacement part we needed didn't arrive until late morning. Hopefully it will be back up and running shortly. If all goes smoothly, my afternoon should pretty easy...putting out feed, making a feed batch for tomorrow morning, and feeding the baby calves.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ask the Dairyman

Teachers and students (and anyone else for that matter), if you would like to ask me anything about life on a dairy, please use the "comments" section or send an email to me. You can get my address from Gilmer Dairy


Our long, dry spell was broken early this morning about 2:15 as a thunderstorm developed and dropped about a half inch of rain on our farm. This obviously isn't a drought-breaker, but it should give a definite kick-start to our bermudagrass and sudex crops. We've got a fair chance of getting another shower before tomorrow morning before the clouds clear back out.

My dad will start cutting our corn down in Yellow Creek bottom this morning. The 45 acres we planted down there probably didn't reach much more than 45% of the yield potential, but the corn is in tremendously better shape than any of the "hill corn" we've harvested.

Our cows continue to chug right along despite the heat. In fact, when the milk truck picked up our load on Wednesday we had just over a thousand pounds of more milk than we did the previous time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lunchtime Update

Guess what? It's another hot, dry day. While my dad and our employees were dealing with the corn harvest, I did a little electrical work in our milking barn this morning. We've got four newly installed fans that we'll use to circulate the air when our cows are being milked. We also plan on adding fine-pattern spray nozzles in front of the fans to provide a cool mist. Other than that, I moved a few cows around from one pasture to another, made a batch of cow feed for this afternoon, and took care of a few other odds and ends. This afternoon I'll be helping in the milking barn, feeding the baby calves, and hoping that none of our silage harvesting equipment breaks down.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A hot week behind, a hot week ahead

Today will be at least the fifth day in a row to hit triple digits on the thermometer, and we probably won't see a high below 100 until this weekend. The heat index continues to float between 105-110, making it tough on all of us who work outdoors for a living. And, of course, there is no significant chance of rain anywhere on the horizon.

We'll be getting our corn cutting equipment prepared this morning, and could begin chopping silage as early as this afternoon. We'll be starting in a field that hasn't made much corn due to the drought, and we'll actually only harvest part of it as silage. The rest we'll cut and bale for hay.

On average, our cows are each giving around 55 pounds of milk each day. We're also milking more cows right now (193) than we ever have during this part of summer.

Well, it's time to cook my sausage and egg and head on out into heat. Think about me while you're enjoying the air conditioning today!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hot, Dry, & Miserable

With temperatures reaching the 90's by late morning and topping out around 100 in early afternoon, I guess you could say that the weather has been a little uncomfortable. Despite the misery, our cows are holding up pretty well, and I just hope we can get some relief before they start really feeling the heat stress.

With no rain in over a week and none on the horizon, I'd say we're definitely back in drought-mode. Some of our sudex has sprouted, though you can't really tell it when you drive by the fields. Our hay fields aren't exactly setting any records either.

I've updated our Edopt-a-Cow program on our farm website, for any of you who might be interested.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A quick, catch you up to date

A high pressure system has moved in and is keeping the rain away for the next several days while we suffer under high temperatures in the upper 90's. Luckily, we got a small shower this past Monday. It wasn't enough to do much good, but if it activated the ammonia nitrate in our hayfields and helped our sudex seed germinate we'll certainly be happy. We're now in the process of baling up the first cutting of bermudagrass on the fields we didn't work last week. The ten acre patch next to my house yielded 4o bales, so that's works out to just over 1.5 tons per acre. In other forage news, we scouted one of our two remaining corn fields this morning. It's pretty pitiful, but it's got just enough ear on it to make it too difficult to cut with a hay conditioner. We might start gearing up and run the silage chopper across it next week.

In other news, the Dairy Star, a publication out of Minnesota, will be featuring our farm in their "Dairying Across America" section in an upcoming edition. I guess good things happen when you go to church with the guy who serves as the contact person for our state's dairy industry. Also, I'm in the process of reworking our farm website's Edopt-a-Cow program and adding new cows to it. Be sure to check that out at Gilmer Dairy!