Thursday, April 21, 2016

Making baleage

The first 50 acres of our corn silage crop has been planted, and now we turn our attention to the ryegrass that occupies the next 100 acres of corn ground. 

Yesterday we rolled-up and wrapped 72 bales of ryegrass that had been mowed in an 11-acre field on Monday afternoon. We will move the baleage from the field to a storage area later today. The weather forecast likely means we will not try to harvest anymore this week, but I anticipate mowing several acres over the weekend in order to resume baling and wrapping on Monday. 

The baleage shoud be properly ensiled and ready to feed our milking herd in 6-8 weeks. Once it is ready, we will begin mixing it with last year's corn silage in our cows' daily feed ration.

ryegrass baleage ready to be moved out of the field

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DHIA test kicks off a full Tuesday

What's set to be a busy Tuesday kicked off at 3:30am in the milking barn with our monthly DHIA (dairy herd improvement association) test. During the test we use meters to measure and record each cow's level of milk production during that particular milking shift, and we also collect a small sample of each cow's milk. The weights and samples will be sent to a lab in Missouri later today, and we should know each cow's daily level of production and milk quality by the end of the week.

milk meters are used to record each cow's milk production once a month

Next up on the schedule is planting corn. I was able to get 23.5 acres-worth of seed in the ground yesterday, not quite half of the total we're shooting for in this first round of planting. I'll be planting a few small Mycogen variety test plots in one of our fields this morning, and hopefully I can get a total of 15-20 acres planted before I have to dog-off to go to Vernon to help coach my son's baseball team at 6:00 this evening. Our county's Cattlemen's Association board of directors is meeting after that, so it'll likely be tomorrow before I can finish the initial corn acreage.

While I'm doing all that, all of our animals will be fed, manure will be spread, cows will be milked again this afternoon, and I'm sure a few other farm chores will be taken care of.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Farm photos by Cameron Carnes

Checking Twitter while milking cows.
photo: Cameron Carnes
Birmingham-area documentary photographer Cameron Carnes spent a few hours with us last Wednesday to take pictures of our farm, our cows, and of us milking our cows. Cameron is currently working on a project to photograph how and where food is grown and raised in Alabama, and we were happy to provide him the opportunity to learn a little bit more about where the milk he drinks originates.

You can view an online photo gallery from Cameron's day on Gilmer Dairy Farm on his website.