Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's still wet, but better weather is here

Two Sundays ago it started raining. And it rained. And it rained some more. In fact, we had measurable rainfall on the farm for eleven straight days. We had two dry (though overcast) days on Thursday and Friday, followed by a heavy storm Saturday morning that dumped nearly 2 inches. But I think it's safe to say the rain is gone after today's full sun, moderately milder temperatures, and occasional breeze. Hopefully the ground will dry enough to get in the sorghum fields and being our silage harvest by Thursday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Roadway Safety is a Shared Responsibility

Though I generally can move my tractors over the road from field to field without incident, I do encounter the occasional impatient driver. I’ve been passed after signaling a left turn and around curves, forced onto narrow shoulders, honked at, and been shown not-so-polite gestures of disapproval. It can be frustrating (as this post recounts)! I have also been on the other side of the tractor, so to speak. I too have been in a hurry to get someplace only to find myself “stuck” behind a farmer on the road. Who is right and who is wrong when vehicles and farm equipment find themselves travelling the same roadways?

National Farm Health & Safety Week is being observed September 20-26. This year’s theme, “Rural Roadway Safety…Alert, Aware, and Alive”, speaks to the responsibility of both farmers and the public alike to keep our roads safe for travel and transport. Collisions between agricultural equipment and vehicles are far too common on our rural roadways and often result in injuries or fatalities. We all must accept our shared responsibility to lessen the frequency of these dangerous accidents.

Farmers have a responsibility to display slow moving vehicle signs on tractors and equipment, properly use caution and signal lights, tightly secure loads, and only travel roadways in low light conditions if adequate lights and reflectors make the equipment clearly visible from front, back, and side. We farmers also need to extend a little courtesy and when possible allow following drivers the space to make a clear, safe pass.

Likewise, we need our commuting friends to be alert and aware when encountering our machinery on the roadways. Keep in mind that many rural roads are hilly, curvy, or have narrow shoulders, and that you can quickly meet agricultural equipment without much warning. Always be cautious in such areas were the terrain limits your long range visibility. Please slow down and maintain a healthy distance behind us until it is safe for you to pass. Oftentimes we can see obstacles ahead that you cannot or cannot safely maneuver our equipment onto the shoulder, so please be patient. Use caution and “time” your pass-by wisely if you are approaching us in the opposite lane, especially if narrow or rough shoulders will limit our abilities to give each other more space.

Patience, cooperation, and common sense are virtues we all need to practice when traveling the roadways, whether we’re in a car, a truck, or a tractor. So let’s stay alert and aware so we call all stay alive!

To learn more about roadway safety, check out The National Educational Center for Agricultural Safety and The Alabama Farmers Federation's Farmer at Work Program.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's raining in Alabama

Man alive is it wet around the farm!

We've had a little rain each day this week, including a very loud storm that moved through about 1:45am. Even more is expected today, and the weatherman says we won't see rain chances below 50% until next Monday.

Right now we have sorghum that's ready to be chopped for silage. We're also waiting on parts for our silage chopper and dump truck so we can get them in working order. Even if we can get our equipment repaired/serviced and ready to go by the middle of next week there's a chance that the ground will be too wet to operate on. Silage harvest is always a slow process on our farm, so any delay is generally not a good thing.

But there is also an advantage to this weather we're having. The increased cloud cover is keeping temperatures down a little bit, which is in turn allowing our cows to stay in their grazing paddocks virtually all morning. The heat and humidity this time of year is still usually enough to send them trotting to the barns for the comfort of fans and sprinklers, but the overcast sky is making them want to stay outdoors and eat.

Regardless of how much more rain falls on our farm over the next few days, we'll have plenty to keep us busy. And while we're milking our cows twice a day, we hope you'll be enjoying at least three servings of dairy products a day!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Edopt-a-Cow and YouTube

In case you missed it, our Edopt-a-Cow Program is now online! This free program allows you to select one of five cows to "edopt", then download and print a certificate and a photo of the cow. Each of the cows have a profile page on our website that is updated monthly so you can keep up with her milk production and other information. We hope you'll give it a try!

Speaking of Edopt-a-Cow, two of the five available for edoption are featured on our new YouTube Channel. Make sure you check that page periodically as we add short videos to it. Some are serious, some are silly, but they're all there to help you learn more about dairy farming and agriculture.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Singing the "Ain't gettin' paid enough for my milk" blues

The dairy crisis continues to wreak havoc on farm families across the country. Painfully low milk prices have left many of us in a lurch as we're burning through our reserves and using up our lines of credit just to stay afloat and weather the storm. Well, I was thinking about the situation this afternoon while feeding the cows and started feeling a little goofy. I decided, "what the heck...another song might be in order!"

There are dairy farm families doing an excellent job of making people aware of our situation, and others are leading the way in finding our best route out of this mess. I try to do my part, and this time I've again tried to do it by going down a road that I don't think many others are traveling.

Below you can watch some cows moving around the pasture while I sing the "ain't gettin' paid enough for my milk" blues. In all honesty, the situation on my farm isn't quite as dire as I make it out to be in the second verse, but things are tight and will continue to be that way for a while. Whether you sing along or simply laugh at my miserable vocal performance, please know that our dairy industry really is in a bad place right now but you can help. Make sure you and your family are consuming your daily recommended servings of dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), etc.) and you will have certainly done your part to help American dairy farm families survive and recover from the dairy crisis.