Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Busy Monday, Wet Tuesday

Monday always seems to be pretty busy on the farm, and yesterday was no exception.

Our local large animal vet arrived on the dairy around 8:30am to pregnancy-check 60 cows from our milking herd.  Most of the cows he checked were pregnant, and it now looks like we're going to be calving heavily in the month of August.  We didn't have an opportunity to bring in the last group of heifers we bred, so they'll have to wait another few weeks before we can get an official pregnancy confirmation on them.

Following lunch, our local DHIA technician joined us for the afternoon milking so he could record each cow's production and take quality samples.  We've since gotten the weights back and should have the quality report by the end of the week.  Combined with the pregnancy results, the DHIA report will help us make a determination on which cows should be culled from the herd and which ones might need an extended dry period.

Today wasn't quite as busy, and the weather certainly could have been better. We tried to keep a roof over our heads as much as possible due to the never-ceasing rain, and our morning tasks included vaccinating a group of 20 calves we'll wean later this week and repairing a cable on one of our front-end loaders. Fun, fun stuff.

Along with weaning the calves I just mentioned, one of the bigger jobs still on the week's agenda will be to select our next group of heifers to breed.  Other than that, it'll pretty much be the same-old, same-old.

Man, I cannot wait for springtime to get here!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Typical Wintertime on the Dairy Farm

GDF #457 gets a pedicure
It seems we're right in the middle of our wintertime "slow" period here on the dairy. That's not to say we haven't been busy, we just don't have any major projects going on outside of our daily herd management. We seem to be finding a little something different to do every day, whether it's trimming hooves, fixing fences, or servicing equipment.

As far as our cows go, we're currently down to 202 in milk. We had peaked at 213 last week but decided to send a group of open (not pregnant), low-producing cows to the stockyard. Next Monday will be a busy day for the girls as we have a pregnancy-check scheduled for the morning and our monthly DHIA test for the afternoon milking. Beyond that, we'll put together our next group of breeding-ready heifers and also sort and move other heifers to new pastures.

heifers waiting to be fed
on a cool, foggy morning
The weather certainly hasn't been the best in the world lately, but about what we should expect for this time of year. The temperature has risen since last week's snow and ice, but the past several days have been cool, damp, and overcast. For the most past, though, it hasn't caused us any problems and the cows don't seem to mind.

I'll be traveling to Lincoln, Nebraska, this evening and will be speaking at the NEFB's Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference tomorrow night. While the temperature is going to be colder than I'm accustomed to, I've been promised a warm reception and would expect nothing less from my Farm Bureau family.

Have a "dairy" good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Photos from Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting in Atlanta

If you've been paying attention to my Twitter feed lately, I'm sure you know that I was recently in Atlanta for several days attending the American Farm Bureau Federation's 2011 Annual Meeting. Here are a few photos to help explain what was going on:

Accurate Ag Books project
On Friday morning our YF&R Committee traveled to Covington for an Accurate Ag Books project.
We read the story Senses on the Farm to a classroom & followed up with learning activities.

"Extreme Stihl!"
Even though we were very busy Saturday with committee business and preparing for our national competitive events, we still managed to have a little fun with one of our promotional sponsors.

YF&R Cmte members Scott Sink & Will Gilmer with eventual
Achievement Award winners Paul & Monica Minzenmayer of Texas
Sunday morning before devotions, we kicked the day off with a networking breakfast for competitors in the Achievement Award and Excellence in Agriculture Award.  We announced the Top 10 finalists in each at the Opening Session, and then spent the afternoon managing the round robin and Sweet 16 rounds of our Discussion Meet event.

icy Atlanta
A winter storm passed through Sunday evening and coated Atlanta in a layer of ice. It didn't slow down the meeting, but it did ultimately effect lots of people's travel home.

The 2010-2011 AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee
With out committee business and competitive events in the books, we took a few moments to have our photo taken in front of the stage before Monday afternoon's closing session.

retiring YF&R Chairman Will Gilmer & AFBF President Bob Stallman
Monday's closing session began with a recognition of retiring members of AFBF's Board of Directors, which included me and three retiring state farm bureau presidents.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
One of the guest speakers for the closing session was none other than US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The USDA boss shared his thoughts on a number of issues with our membership.

Following Sec.Vilsack's address, it was time for the YF&R segment of the program.  The crowd was treated to this video featuring our committee's members and activities.

Will Gilmer addresses the crowd at AFBF's Annual Meeting
It was my honor to address the membership from the podium during the YF&R segment. I helped announce the winners and runners-up for our three national competitive events and recognized our three promotional sponsors, Ram Trucks, Case IH, and Stihl.  My last act before leaving the stage was to introduce Ben LaCross, my successor as YF&R Committee chairman.

Mike Rowe gestures to the crowd during his Keynote Address.
The final and keynote speaker for the session was Mike Rowe.  He spoke of his respect for farmers and ranchers and reminded us that we are the best spokespeople for agriculture.

"Hit the Virginian"
Whenever our YF&R Committee is together, we always retreat to our suite at the end of the day to debrief and enjoy each other's company. Occasionally, though, a few may slip out for unsanctioned activity. I cannot confirm if these photos are real, much less who is involved or where it was taken. But it appears as if this activity involves throwing bean bags at a volunteer seated some 10 floors below.

AFBF's voting delegate session in progress (full size)
My last "official" act as YF&R Chairman was to represent the program in the voting delegate session, the meeting in which our organization adopts its policies for the coming year.  I had a front-row, center aisle seat for the proceedings.  I also addressed the floor concerning two different issues: temporary supply management for the dairy industry and the YF&R Program's age limit.

And that pretty well sums it up.  We worked hard, got lots accomplished, and had a great time with one another.  I can't wait to get back together with everyone for one last hurrah at our National Leadership Conference next month in Orlando!