Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick points...

  • We're were up to 182 cows in the milking herd as of this morning, and I know we have at least one cow that has calved and will be going through the milking line this afternoon.
  • Most of the acreage we're drilling in oats/ryegrass on for our milking herd to graze has been planted. We'll need a little moisture before we can finish the job.
  • We will hopefully get our dump truck back from the shop this week. Once we do, we'll start cutting our sorghum for silage.
  • Today is the last "hot" day forecasted for a while. Starting tomorrow, our highs aren't supposed to climb out of the 70's. Cool mornings and mild afternoons...GREAT weather for cows!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our Growing Family

Our family sure has been growing lately!

...and no, I'm not talking about our second child who's due in April.

We've had 1o calves born in the last week, and still have 35 cows and heifers in our maternity pasture due to calve within the next three weeks (which means my dad and I will be doing a lot of late-night pasture checks). It looks like we'll be going into the fall with a whole bunch of young'uns running around.

What's going on

We cut, baled, and wrapped 36 bales of crabgrass off of one of our fields yesterday afternoon. We'll get back to doing that on Thursday and Friday, but we're taking a break from it today so I can apply organic fertilizer to a couple of our other fields.

We also weighed milk this morning, and should have a preliminary report back sometime this morning. Our official report along with the milk sample results probably won't be here until early next week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Milk safety

Thousands have gotten sick from tainted milk powder in China. How did this happen? Here's a quote from China's Agricultural Minister:
Sun singled out local "milk stations," which collect fresh milk from farmers and sell it on. Their operators have been blamed for adding nitrogen-rich melamine to sub-standard or watered-down milk, fooling quality checks measuring protein, also rich in nitrogen. Many were unregistered and unregulated, he said. (credit The Washington Post)
"Unregistered" and "unregulated" are two words that simply don't apply to the American dairy industry. Each of our nation's dairy farms must be registered and permitted by their state's health department in order to sell milk and are subject to regular on-farm inspections by local, state, and federal health officials. Milk samples are collected from every load of milk shipped from every farm in America and are tested for quality and safety before the milk is pumped off of the milk truck and into the processing plant. From that point on, there are several more inspections and quality control tests that milk and dairy products go through before they arrive at the grocery store and ultimately into your home.

So, you can drink your milk and eat your cheese with confidence knowing that the American dairy farmer, the American dairy industry, and Uncle Sam are all working together to provide you with a safe, nutritious, delicious product.

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Friday

There's not a whole lot on the planned agenda today. We'll shuffle some dry cows around this morning and start cleaning up around the place. This afternoon we'll bale some bermudagrass hay provided it has dried out enough. Of course, we're liable to find ourselves spending lots of time on some type of unforeseen problem.

I hope I can get finished with everything this evening so I can attend THE big event in Lamar County. Or at least the north two-thirds of the county. What could it be? The Sulligent Blue Devils (2-1) travel 10 miles south to Vernon to play the Lamar County HS Bulldogs (3-0) at George Bell Memorial Stadium. Without doing any research, I'm pretty sure that tonight's game will be:
  • about as early in the season as these two rivals have played (it used to always be the last game on the schedule)
  • the first time in a while both teams have been legitimate playoff teams
  • and the first time in a few years that the two teams are back in the same classification and region (Class 2A, Region 7), meaning that the rivalry also has playoff implications for both
"Back in the day", I was a part of three of these games. My sophomore year, we went to Sulligent and won the game on a late kickoff return for a touchdown (I had been absolutely creamed in punt coverage our previous offensive drive). My junior year we dropped a close, ugly one in Vernon. My senior year, it seemed like we outplayed them all night but a steady stream of one-sided, questionable penalties gave Sulligent the victory and ended our season and kept us out of the playoffs. Every one of our big plays had a flag attached that night! Seriously, there was a referee controversy BEFORE the game, and someone from our stands actually rushed the field when it was over and went after the head referee. Luckily, one of our player's father saw what was happening and made a good open-field tackle on the guy just in time to keep the program from being slapped with probation.

Really, if we hadn't made so many mistakes we could have still won despite the perceived officiating bias. Like if our split end had cut inside instead of outside on "Blue 9" stand-pass like he was supposed to I would have laid a clean block instead of being flagged for a block in the back (or maybe I should have pulled up and not blocked the corner in the back). Or if our quarterback hadn't under thrown the ball on "Blue 26 Dump", a play in which I was wide open and even with my blazing 5.0 speed could have taken to the endzone. Oh well, at least I've obviously put it behind me and moved on!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday morning update

A large-animal vet will be coming to the farm tomorrow morning to give our cows a check-up, so we've adjusted our forage gathering plans a little. We cut a few acres of crabgrass yesterday that we'll bale and wrap today, and also cut 10 acres of BMR sudex that we'll bale and wrap tomorrow afternoon. We'll also be cutting about 10 acres of bermudagrass this morning that we intend to dry bale on Friday.

Also from yesterday, one of our silage pits was resurfaced and looks really good. I just looked out my son's bedroom window and could see that the crew is already working on the second pit.

Our cows seem to be enjoying this milder weather, and the forecasts I've seen show that is should be like this for several days. I hope so, because the cows aren't the only ones enjoying it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall preview

I went out early this morning and the temperature was a cool, dry 57 degrees. It looks as if maybe summer's on its way out as our lows are supposed to stay in the 50's and our highs will be in the low 80's. The change should let us spot-graze our milking herd a little more in the mornings without worrying about them getting too hot 'round about 10:30.

On the agenda for today, we'll have a concrete crew resurfacing one of our silage pits (and another tomorrow) while we replace half of the belts on our hay baler. If we can take care of that pretty quick, we should be able to get back to cutting crabgrass. I could see us cutting and green-baling 8 acres worth today and then wrapping it tomorrow.

Overall, here's what we're facing. It's funny how everything kind of stacks up and needs doing a the same time.
  • Our forage sorghum is ready to cut. Before we can, we have to have our silage pits resurfaced (they should be ready to go by next week), our dump wagon re-plated (the plates are ready, the machine shop just has to come out and weld them on), our dump truck fixed (or hire/rent another truck), and the ground in the bottomland has to be dry enough to run on. With any luck we'll be able to start in about next Tuesday, but it's too soon to know that for sure.
  • We planted 20 acres of BMR sudex which is ready to harvest. We can either chop it and pack it into a pit like our forage sorghum or we can green bale and wrap it.
  • We've got roughly 45 acres of bermudagrass that will be cut for hay this season. 10 acres is ready, another 25 should be in about 10 days, and the rest in about three weeks.
  • 40 acres worth of oats and ryegrass is ready to be drilled in right now. We plan on strip grazing our milking herd on it late this fall and then again in the spring.
  • Roughly 50 acres of crabgrass will have to be removed (cut & baled, maybe wrapped) to drill in our other crops.
We've got our work cut out for us over the next couple of weeks!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Midweek update

The next few weeks should be pretty busy.

Looking at the calendar, in about 10 days we'll have dry cows calving about every day for close to five weeks. We'll also start breeding a group of heifers in early October.

As far as our field work goes, I've spent the last couple of days spraying army worms in what looks to be the best September crop of bermudagrass we've had in a long time. It should be ready to harvest in 3-4 weeks.

We've cut the crabgrass in the two fields directly across the road from our "headquarters". Our intentions were to green bale it and wrap it for heifer baleage, but it's had one inch of rain fall on it (thanks for getting the forecast wrong, weatherman!) and we haven't decided whether or not to let it dry out and then bale it or just leave it in the field to rot. The only money we'll have in it is the cost of harvesting it, so that will make it easier for us to just leave it there if that's what we decide to do. Regardless, we'll be drilling in oats and ryegrass into those fields in the next few days.

We've also hoping to get our dumptruck's transmission fixed, dumpwagon's bed reinforced, and silage pits resurfaced all within the next two weeks. I don't know if that will all happen, but we need it to because we've got to cut our forage sorghum for silage ASAP. If we don't get into the bottomland before it gets too wet, we're going to lose alot of time to being stuck.

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's Friday

Today's the last day of the workweek, unless you're a dairyman and work 7 days a week. Anyway, we're going to be working with heifers this morning. We had recently consolidated a couple of groups and now we're ready to break the one large group into three smaller groups.

The cows milk production hasn't been very consistent. If they give a lot of milk one day it seems like they'll be "off" the next. Averaged out it's been ok, but we'd always like a little more. We should be drying off 4 this afternoon, and unless one of our dry cows has a calf this morning that will put us at 169 cows in milk, the first time in quite a while we've been below 170.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

No weather problems

Gustav stayed far enough to our west that we never got more than a nice breeze. With no rain falling, we were able to move around some pregnant heifers and dry cows this morning. We also got some hay bales moved out of a couple of fields in time to get some ammonia nitrate spread this afternoon.

None of our cows...neither the milking herd nor either group of dry cows...seemed interested in moving around or eating this afternoon. Our milk cows didn't want to come in the barn to get milked and then didn't want to leave and go to the feed trough after they'd been milked. All our dry cows wanted to do was lay around instead of grazing. It struck us as pretty odd since it's been overcast, breezy, and relatively mild. We'll see how they act tomorrow I guess.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Get ready for Gustav

Looking at our current forecast, we should start getting some of the rain from Gustav sometime today and then through most of tomorrow. Right now, the worst of it should remain to the west of us, but if it tracks back to the east after making landfall we could still see some pretty hefty winds.

So, what do we need to do up here 250 miles north of the coast? Well, really not much out of the ordinary. We baled hay the end of last week and we'll make sure that we don't have bales sitting in low spots that will hold water. I think we'll also run a bushhog to help open up a couple of shallow drainage ditches. Other than that we'll just wait and see I guess. Living in a rural area with lots of trees around power lines usually means power outages when these storms come through, but maybe we'll dodge the bullet this time.