Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taking care of the cows

Our cows appetites' seem to be growing with the cooler weather, and we've gotten to the point of diminishing returns on adding cottonseed hulls to their ration. So, we took out some of the hulls yesterday and added crabgrass baleage into the TMR. This move lowered the overall dry-matter % just a little, but that's offset by the added nutritional value and the fact that it literally gives the cows more to chew on.

Well, the trough was clean this morning when I gave them their breakfast, so it looks like we'll be adding back some of those hulls and increasing the overal amount of feed they're getting.

The cows also seemed to be up in milk yesterday afternoon and this morning. The milk truck runs today so we can get a pretty good idea on the herd average. We're also weighing milk tomorrow morning, which will of course allow us to measure individual production.

We take good care of our cows because they take good care of us. In exchange for a nutritious feed ration, clean water, and plenty of space to lay down and roam around, our cows crank out the high quality milk that lets us make our living on the farm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hay in the field, dust in my shirt

This afternoon we baled up about 30 round and 150 small square bales of bermudagrass next to my house. Before we started, though, I spent about an hour servicing the baler and the Case 5230 we pulled it with. Unfortunately for me, the baler had not been cleaned out very good after it was last used. Hay dust rained down on me pretty much the whole time I was greasing the lower fittings. I got alot of it inside my collar, of course, and spent the rest of the day itching like crazy.


We have now had our first official frost of the season. I had scrape off my truck's windshield before I could drive to the farm this morning on account of it. I guess I need to start using my "redneck defroster"...putting an empty feedsack over the windshield in the evening. I also need to get the heater going in the ol' Case I put the feed out with.

We're supposed to warm back up a little starting tomorrow, so I'm not quite ready to get the longjohns out of the attic just yet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Coming up this week...

It's a chilly Monday morning here on the farm. With the silage harvest behind us, we can begin moving on to some other work. We don't have any major projects ahead of us this week (or at least not yet), just a little of this and a little of that. I do know we'll cut and bale a little bit of hay, and we may plant some of our cool-season forages towards the end of the week.

We've made it up to 203 cows in our milking herd, but we'll be drying off 11 this afternoon. We still have roughly 15 cows that will have a calf within the next three weeks, so we should get our numbers back up pretty quick. We'll weigh milk on Thursday to see how they're doing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


We're pretty much done with our silage harvest for this year. Dad cut the last load of sorghum out of our Yellow Creek bottom fields yesterday afternoon about 4:00. All that's left is to move the equipment back and cut about three loads of BMR sudex in front of my house to "cap" the pit. After that, we'll cover and seal the pit and let it do its thing for a few weeks before we start feeding it to our cows.

Monday, October 20, 2008

New article online

After returning home from another meeting in Montgomery, I found an email in my inbox notifying me that Dairy Farming has featured dad and I on their website. The article can be found here.
A big thanks to Amanda Trice of SUDIA for her work in getting our story on the DFT website!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall is here?

It was chilly 49 degrees when I fed the heifers and calves this morning. I guess maybe Fall is now upon us. The milk cows sure seemed to enjoy it.

We're taking a hiatus from silage chopping over the weekend, but everything should be ready to go first thing Monday morning. Better than half of what's left is either in soft spots or has been blown over, to it's going to be very slow going. Barring any major mechanical difficulties, though, we should be completely through by sometime Wednesday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's only Thursday?

This week has really gone by slow, and feels like it should be Friday by now. I guess it feels that way because I've been off my schedule. I was in Montgomery all day Monday for a policy development meeting and was tied up with jury duty at the courthouse on Tuesday morning. We've been working later hours trying to get our silage chopped, and that's had a little effect too.

About the silage, we'll be covering one of our pits this morning and will continue to put what's chopped today into our second pit. We'll run as long as we can, but rain is in the forecast. And judging by the rainbow I'm seeing to the southwest, it probably won't be all that long before we get some rain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still Chopping

We're still chopping sorghum, and have probably 30 acres still to go. It's putting out a lot of tonnage and looks like it should make some pretty good feed. If we can avoid a breakdown, we should have our first silage pit full sometime today. There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow and Friday, so we may get slowed down again like we did last week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday morning on the farm

Our cows were really milking good this morning, so I hope that kind of sets a tone for the rest of the day.

We'll start chopping more bermudagrass after breakfast. It's been going into the pit pretty good, and time will tell what kind of quality it returns as silage. We expect to finish with it mid-morning. Once we do, we'll swap the head on the silage chopper and transition back to chopping sudex. We'll use the sudex to "cap" over the bermudagrass in the pit, as it will pack tighter. There's a chance if everything goes well that we can chop all the sudex in a long afternoon, but more than likely we'll e fininshing it up one afternoon over the weekend. We'll get moved back into the creek bottom either Sunday evening or Monday morning and will resume chopping our sorghum as soon as the ground is dry enough to run the equipment over.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Back in the Field

After 1.3 inches of late night/early morning rain, we're back in the field today...just not the field we were in yesterday. With at least three days of ground-drying weather needed before we can begin cutting our sorghum again, we've decided to try cutting and chopping bermudagrass. Our guys should have the hayfield cut by mid-afternoon and we ought to know if this is going to work by quitting time this evening. If it'll chop up good enough to ensile in our pit, we should be able to get it knocked out tomorrow, run through our sudex field on Friday, and resume the sorghum chopping somewhere between Saturday and Monday.

If the bermudagrass won't chop like we need it to, we'll fluff it and let it dry out for a few days and then probably dry bale it Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Out of the Field

Silage chopping was rained out after 2.5 loads this morning. Based on the rain we've had over the last couple of hours (and what we're supposed to get tonight), I would say that it's highly doubtful that the ground will dry enought to let us harvest again this week.

In the Field

We were able to get our silage chopper going late yesterday morning, and over the course of about 6.5 hours were able to cut 19 loads of sorghum silage. We're not sure how things are going to play out over the next 48 hours, though. There is a front that's expected to move through tonight that may dump enough rain to make the field too muddy to operate in. Ahead of that, though, are isolated storms that could hit at anytime today. So, we'll get what we can get today and hope that the rain doesn't shut us down for too long.

Our milking herd is back up to 190 with all the recent calvings, and milk production is up too. That's really good news, especially since the price we receive for our milk is in the process of dropping.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's Friday

By the end of today I think we will be able to say that we've gotten a lot accomplished this week, but we've still got a whole lot to do.

We've got our oats and ryegrass planted on the 50 acres directly across from our farm. We'll strip graze our milking herd on these fields this coming spring, and maybe even this fall if the weather works out right. On a related note, I spent a couple of days spreading organic fertilizer onto these fields and in doing so emptied our storage tank. While the nutrient value of the fertilizer isn't quite stout enough to fully meet the crops' requirements, the moisture it provided to the soil should help with seed germination.

Speaking of moisture, there's a chance we may get "a stray thunderstorm" on Tuesday, but that's all they're predicting right now.

We're going to try to get our equipment ready today to start cutting our sorghum silage on Monday. Hopefully once we start we can get through it with minimal downtime. Things tend to get a little more intense around here when we're chopping silage, so I'm sure I'll be letting out a big "JOHN DENVER!!!" once we have the silage covered and sealed in the pit.