Saturday, June 29, 2019

Photos of the Week

Here are a few photos I snapped over the past few days that can help tell the story of what's been happening on the farm.

Monday morning we "worked" a group of 65 Holstein heifers and Angus-crossed calves. We ear tagged those that didn't yet have one and gave them their vaccination booster shots before moving them to a new pasture.

I didn't go looking for a beautiful sunset on Monday evening, but I found one while my son and I were trying to get a couple of loose steers back into their pasture. The milking herd gathered along the east side of their pasture to check out all the commotion and provided us with this photo opportunity.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

One of my favorite speeches

Following up on my post about former Milk Mustache Contest winners, I'm gonna treat y'all to a little more nostalgia.

Delivering a speech at an agricultural
conference in Kansas, 2010.
I've had the opportunity to give quite a few speeches over the years. The first I remember was in my sixth-grade English class, and by the time my high school days were over I would go on to represent my school in the Public Speaking Contest at the Alabama Beta Club Convention and deliver the valedictory address at my class's graduation ceremony. My college speeches ranged from the ridiculous (a tongue-in-cheek defense of professional wrestling) to the sublime (on the importance of self-sacrifice), and I've given more speeches at agricultural meetings and conferences in the past 15+ years than I can even begin to remember.

Thirteen years after speaking at my own graduation, I was invited to deliver the commencement address to Lamar County High School's Class of 2010. Getting up and speaking in front of agricultural acquaintances and total strangers was old hat by then, but the idea of speaking with the eyes of my hometown upon me really made me nervous. That's what also made it special. And for a little over eleven minutes that May evening I tried to impart some useful, practical advice to the forty-some-odd graduates seated before me in a way that would make my former teachers and fellow citizens proud.

The address I gave that evening is certainly not going to show up when you search for "Best Commencement Speeches" on Google. Heck, it's not even the best speech I've ever written or delivered. But the occasion made it one of my favorites, and there are a few truths sprinkled in there that I still need to remind myself of from time to time. Hopefully you will find a few pearls of wisdom you can use, too, if you choose to give it a listen. 

Checking in on former Milk Mustache Contest winners

Once upon a time I would promote a kids' Milk Mustache Contest as a way for our farm to celebrate June Dairy Month. From the best of my recollection, it started around 2006 and ran through 2014. I was curious about what these former winners are up to now, so I reached out to as many of their parents as I had contact information for. Several were gracious enough to share an update I could use for a "Then and Now" promotion, and I have been sharing those across various social media accounts throughout the month.

With Dairy Month now drawing near its end, I've decided to post all of those updates here in one place. My thanks to all the kids (and parents) who participated in this project, as well as everyone who took part in our Milk Mustache Contests over the years.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mid-June update

Well, folks, we've made it past the mid-point of June. And though we've been very busy on the farm these past few weeks, we still have a whole lot of work ahead of us.

This past week was a productive one...and unseasonably comfortable to boot! I sprayed and sidedressed our last remaining acreage of "hill ground" corn, and now all it needs is a few rains between now and harvest time. I was also able to drill roughly 40 acres of pearl millet seed into the ground which I hope to see pegging up by the end of this week. We also fertilized our hayfields, some with a commercial blend and a couple others with manure slurry. We have several pastures that need to be sprayed over the next couple of weeks, and our bottomland corn will likely need to be sprayed next week as well. We have a pretty good chance of rain every afternoon this week, and that will have a big impact on how much or how little tractor time I get over the next 7-10 days.

Our milking herd is still holding at 188 cows, though I figure we will dry off a few of the pregnant ones toward the end of the week. We opened up our final silage pit on Monday, and I'm not sure we won't run out before the first of this year's silage crop has been harvested and adequately ensiled. Reducing the number of cows in the milking herd along with their reduced summertime appetites will help extend our supply a bit, as will presumably our first cutting of millet. If we can make it through August off last year's crop, great! If not, we may have to buy and feed a "one shot" built-in-roughage ration for a couple of weeks.

Depending on weather, we may start vaccinating our heifers and steers before the week's up. If not, we'll jump on that job early next week. I figure it will take at least three days to work through them, though we'll probably hold off on the oldest heifers until we can get a "preg check" lined up with our veterinarian. There is usually a lot of loose manure (and a few loose words) flying around the catch pen when we work heifers, but I'll try to keep my clothes...and my clean as I can.

I'll leave y'all with last week's MooTube Minute. I hope you all have a dairy good week!