Friday, February 14, 2014

20ish Hours of Snow

With apologies to Steinbeck, I guess we can add yet another chapter to The Winter of Our Discontent as we experienced our first post-Groundhog Day winter weather event this week. Unlike the single-digit temperatures we endured during January's two hard freezes, this time the perils were freezing rain, sleet, and snow. 

Our little slice of Lamar County missed out on the first round of wintery mix that passed through the Twin-States region on Tuesday night, but Wednesday was a different story. The precipitation alternated between what could be best described as a mist and a drizzle that morning, and by mid afternoon it had started falling in a more frozen state. Here is pictorial look back at 20ish hours of snow:

Well, that accumulated quickly.
The sleet/snow mix didn't do much more than make the mud puddles bigger the first hour or so it fell. The sleet stopped around 4pm, the wet snowflakes got bigger and fell faster, and within a half-hour we had our first (and probably only) accumulation of the year.

Vernon City Complex / old Lamar Co. High School at intersection of AL Hwys 17 &18
My wife and I had previously made plans to attend Mississippi State's 8pm basketball game against Georgia, with a stop for an early Valentines Day dinner along the way. After enjoying a nice meal in Columbus, we decided to check the weather before proceeding on to Starkville. Continuing west down Highway 82 didn't look to be a problem, but with reports of road conditions deteriorating back in Lamar County we decided we might should cut our date short. We made it all the way to and through Vernon without any issues, but the county road between Highway 17 and our farm was fairly slushy.

snowy morning sunrise
I don't think the temperature ever did drop below 30° overnight, and we didn't have any cold-related issues in our milking barn. The previous afternoon's snow was looking a little less-impressive by the time the sun started to peek above the horizon, and I knew it wouldn't stay around for much longer.

heifer calves enjoying the once-a-year snow accumulation
"What's this white stuff, boss?"
Other than making for a couple of good calf photo opps, the remaining snow didn't have much of an impact on farm chores.

sorting cows into groups
Half of the snow melted off by the time we started sorting cows for a big pregnancy check at 8:30am., with most of the other half melting while the veterinarian was busy confirming pregnancies in 71 of the 76 cows he examined. By lunchtime, the ground was just a wet, brown, sloppy mess.

I don't know what the next few weeks hold in store as far as "extreme winter weather" goes, but we've about had our fill of it. There will be great rejoicing once Spring finally arrives...until we get that freak cold snap in late-March/early-April.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gilmer Dairy Farm lands big heifer class on National Signing Day

LAMAR CO., Ala. - It's now official: 48 Holstein heifers are expected to join the Gilmer Dairy Farm milking herd this coming Fall.

Current projections have 18 heifers calving into the milking herd between 8/28-10/2, with the remainder freshening in either late October or mid-November. Nine AI sires are represented, though the class is dominated by Roland (18) and Rib (12) daughters. Four of the heifers in the class were sired by former GDF herd bull Roberto, and 12 can claim other home-grown bulls as their maternal grandsires. 

We caught up with dairyman Will Gilmer and asked for his perspective on this latest signing class of heifers. In the video linked below he discusses the size of the class, expectations for their future, and the farm's recruitment strategy.

A list of all 48 heifers sorted by their projected calving date (pending veterinary pregnancy confirmation; subject to change) is listed below. Stay tuned to this blog and other GDF social media accounts for further updates on these heifers as they progress to the milking herd.