Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cozy Calves

I have actually been looking forward to some cold weather so that we could try out the new calf blankets!
Don't they look cute:)
The kids had the day off from school so it worked out great that they could give me a hand!
We are going to put these insulated jackets with a nylon shell on the calves from day one until they are about 3 weeks. The smaller calves will keep them on longer. After that they should have a nice thick coat of their own- a little fatter and furrier!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Building Barns

I thought about waiting to post on the new calf barns until they were completed....but I am too excited and just in case you were driving by and wondering 'what on earth those crazy farmers are up to now?'
Well this isn't something that just came out of nowhere we have been just kind of hunkering down and working our way through our problem of having cows that are too healthy-they are living longer and having lots of babies!
I know, I know its not a bad problem but we don't want to overcrowd our "girls" and we hate HATE selling them. Which is what we have had to do for the past 2 years.
So finally, we feel like we are at a point where we feel confident in the decision to build barns and let this natural growth occur.
The addition will add 48 individual pens for newborn heifers and 10 pens for transition (2-4month old, groups of 6).
This building process couldn't have started any later...we have had quite the week so far. In the past 36 hours there were 10 calves born, 9 were heifers and 1 bull! (And amazingly, no...none of them were gender-select calves....let's leave that topic for a later post:)

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Deer Gun Season Opener 2010

Three years ago most of the local hunters got together for the first Tyler Creek QDM (Quality Deer Management) meeting. They have been working hard to manage the deer population and this year we are really starting to see results in our area.
Crop damage and car-deer accidents are on the decline and the size, health, and quality of the deer that are being harvested are increasing!
Tonight, at our meal-time prayer, I thanked God for His creation and being able to harvest deer, and my 6year old started laughing "You don't harvest deers!!"
Ah, a teaching opportunity!
We had a little talk about how managing the population and health of a species, then utilizing as much of animal as possible is not just harvesting but also being a good steward of our resources.

har-vest- (verb) to catch, or remove for use.

How amazing that some animals can eat crops and grasses and turn them into an essential resource- protein- for our use.
I am sure that these may end up over a mantle or on the living room wall as a trophy mount, but so much more important, as a meal for our neighbors in need (burger and steaks) or a pair of warm leather gloves (a family friend owns the local hide shop).
It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes: "Everything lives. Everything dies. And death with a purpose gives full meaning to life."-Trent Loos

Happy harvest hunters! Be safe!
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Friday, November 12, 2010

A Cast for A Calf

This is a feisty little calf that is about 3 months old.
We suspect that she got a little rambunctious when the pens were being bedded with sawdust and got her leg caught in a gate and broke the bone right below her left front knee.
Luckily, our vet is here every Friday and he got her all patched up with a fancy-looking cast:)
She should be good as new in 5-6 weeks. In the meantime, she will be getting aspirin for 3-4 days to alleviate some of her discomfort.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

A Friday Full of Fertilizer!

Today we are ready to set the new fertilizer storage tank!
Believe it or not our cows actually don't make enough fertilizer for our crops and we have to purchase additional fertilizer every year to make sure we have enough good quality feed for the girls.
And its always nice to have some left to sell.
Fertilizer costs are very volatile and are directly effected by fuel costs. If we purchase fertilizer in the off-season and buy in bulk the savings are quite substantial.
This fertilizer storage area was a big part of the MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program)program that we completed in 2007. The tanks had to pass inspections and needed to be set in a containment area that was designed around the criteria of the program. Even the cement mixture that was used was specific to MAEAP standards.
This spring there was a small leak when fertilizer was being transferred, and it was all contained right in that area. No panic, no fines, no worries.
Sometimes it really pays to be proactive:)
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Shelled corn Harvest on hold

We are (were) on track to finish harvest about 6-7 weeks ahead of last year.
The corn has been running around 18% moisture and takes no time at all to dry. Last year the corn was so wet and cold it just took forever to dry and we went through a lot of propane-way more than we expected. So this beautiful fall weather that we have been blessed with has saved us lots of time and $$!
We are averaging right around 200 bushels per acre (last year around 160). And corn is selling for about $5/bushel (last year $4/bushel).
So its been a pretty great year but it seems like there's always somethin'....
We have run into a small problem... we ran out of room!! We actually have to build a new bin before we can finish the last 300 (out of 1200 acres of shelled corn)!
They started putting up the new bin and it should be ready to fill in a couple days!
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Blogging from my phone!
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