Monday, January 31, 2011

Massive Manure Spreader

I try to shy away from posting on manure. Its really just not my thing. I mean I love my cows, and I know how valuable it is as fertilizer and all, but geesh that stuff stinks. Luckily, we have a Manure Management team at the farm that is second to none- manure IS their thing.
However, when I saw this roll in the driveway...


This. Thing. Is. MASSIVE!
Word is that this 'Meyer' spreader is 1 of only 12 of its kind in the country.
The main selling points for us were:
1. Quick- The girls make a lot of milk and a lot of manure too. When we get the chance we need to be able to get that stuff out fertilizing the soil ASAP to comply with our CNMP.
2. Efficient- It will save $$ in fuel and labor costs.
3. Versatility- This can also double as a Silage Truck during harvest- AMAZING!
I hope you are realizing how many times I have been insipired to use all caps in this post to convey just how EXCITED I have become over a piece of equipment- manure equipment no less. It truly is something you just need to see to believe!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A story fit for a farm

This past week we had an older, pre-fresh(or really pregnant) cow that wasn't feeling so good and we just couldn't figure out what the problem was. Our vet gave us some tips on how to treat her symptoms and keep her comfortable and we were kind of relieved when she started to calve in hopes that would turn things around. Little did we know that she was pregnant with TRIPLETS!
My dad claims that since the beginning of Swisslane's existence there have only been 2 cases of triplets before this and none of the calves have survived. I would love to say that this case ended in storybook fashion but it's just a good ending with some farm-life reality too.
All 3 calves were heifers! This is not only rare but great because when cattle have multiples that are different sexes the females are sterile in about 80-90% of cases. These heifers are called a freemartin and raised along with the bull calves.
Sadly, one of the calves didn't make it. As for the other 2, they are happy and healthy. There is just one small flaw with baby #2- she has no ears!


Just these little buds- its very strange-but we still like her! She won't have eartags- everyone will just know her and she's already getting some special treatment as the kids fight over who gets to feed "No Ears" her bottle at night.

The cow did end up passing away 2 days after calving. Her legacy will live on through her girls. And we have another case to support using ultra-sound technology on our pregnant cows- something that we have talked about but just haven't been able to justify that kind of an investment. Its hard to not question "What if...?" But looking at how far technology has advanced cow health it won't be long before cases like this will end happily ever after!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

State of the State- Michigan's Big Comeback!

I totally missed the State of the State tonight. I honestly don't even know if was aired on one of our 12 stations that we get but I was too busy with Spelling and Book Reports at that point anyway but oh well....
What reports I have seen so far are really really exciting!
Our new Governor Snyder not only mentioned AGRICULTURE but actually praised, promoted, supported, encouraged- you get the idea- he recognized that agriculture has been a bright spot in Michigan's economy and one of the few industries that has grown throughout these tough times.
Just to remind you of the kind of reports Michigan Agriculture was used to hearing out of the Governor's office feel free to check out a blog post I wrote last March about Michigan Meatout Day. Needless to say, there really wasn't an ag-friendly feeling coming from Lansing then. And that is why it is so refreshing and exciting to hear this kind of stuff in the State of the State address tonight:

- Michigan residents will have access to a new website that will provide us with both transparency and accountability.

- and my favorite part, an excerpt from Michigan Farm Bureau's Press Release (I pasted the entire thing below too)-
Snyder backed up his respect for agriculture by vowing in his address to work with the state Legislature on making the nationally acclaimed Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) part of state statute, a longtime policy goal of MFB.

SwissLane Dairy completed our MAEAP in 2007. We are big fans of this program because it is voluntary and incentive based. Rather than more regulation and over-reaching authority this actually creates a partnership between farmers and government. We actually worked together and came up with solutions!

Michigan is not just a place to live for our family. This is our heritage and our legacy. We can't wait to be a part of the Comeback!

Michigan Farm Bureau Press Release:
Snyder's emphasis on agriculture, proactive environmental stewardship puts Michigan on right course

LANSING, Jan. 19, 2011 - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder did not disappoint in his first state of the state address Wednesday evening. The Governor clearly demonstrated that he is a leader who "gets it" when it comes to reforming government and building on the state's agricultural strengths to help revitalize Michigan.

"Gov. Rick Snyder once again validated why he earned the AgriPac Friend of Agriculture endorsement and the support of thousands of Farm Bureau families in his election campaign," said Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Wayne H. Wood. "As he expressed in his address, the Governor is sincere in his passion for agriculture's role in Michigan's economic recovery and he is fully committed to reforming government and revitalizing our state."

MFB, the state's largest general farm organization, was particularly pleased that Snyder recognized agriculture as an integral component to growing jobs and furthering economic development in Michigan.

The agri-food and agri-energy industry, encompassing conventional agriculture and the many supporting industries ranging from food processing and trucking to grocery store sales, is a $71.3 billion - and growing - industry in Michigan which employs about 1 million people, roughly a quarter of the state's work force. Studies indicate that agriculture has been expanding at a rate five times faster than the growth rate of the general economy in recent years.

"Agriculture is as relevant to Michigan today as it was at the turn of the century and Governor Snyder not only recognizes this fact but embraces it," said Wood.

"For instance, Snyder recently made rural development a function of the Michigan Department of Agriculture," said Wood. "This is a progressive step, as agriculture is one of the largest contributors to economic growth in Michigan's rural communities."

Snyder backed up his respect for agriculture by vowing in his address to work with the state Legislature on making the nationally acclaimed Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) part of state statute, a longtime policy goal of MFB.

"Throughout his campaign Snyder talked about 'outcomes- and results-based government,' so to have the Governor formally acknowledge that MAEAP meets his high standards for a streamlined, effective and performance-based program is a crowning achievement for MAEAP and one that the Michigan Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the state Legislature to implement," said Wood.

Currently housed within the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, MAEAP is a voluntary, incentive-driven program which helps farmers of all sizes and commodities proactively minimize and/or eliminate agricultural pollution risks on their farms by teaching them how to identify and address those risks in compliance with state and federal environmental regulations.

"Giving MAEAP statutory teeth will help the program appeal to more farmers by providing some of the regulatory stability they are seeking to effectively operate their farms and grow jobs for Michigan families," said Wood.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Good Times and Good Friends

Last week Jerry and I traveled to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia(to find out more info on Twitter- search #AFBF11). We planned on learning about new technology and issues facing agriculture but we left with that and a whole lot more.
We made some great friends and guess what?!?! Some of them even have blogs!
The Weiss family and Carla and Kris have dairy farms and Jeff blogs on all things AG. All of these fine folks are for real farmers in Michigan.

We started our adventure in Atlanta by taking a very fun and educational bus tour of 2 local farms.
First stop= Greenhouse and Nursery.

Then off to Southern Belle farms.
This was a really great family and I learned a lot there.
They turned their old milking parlor into a classroom!

There was a huge trade show where we saw first-hand the latest/greatest farm technology.
Here we were supposed to check out the new milker and I couldn't get over the display- this would go great in the Dairy Discovery Barn!

A Ginormous Cotton Picker!

Biggest Corn Chopper in the world!

Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel was the Keynote Speaker! It was really cool to hear his appreciation for American Agriculture. He talked a lot on how regulations and activist groups are burdening farmers instead of creating common sense solutions "to get the job done". I love his "Brown before Green" slogan!

And then...dont dont DONNN...the BLIZZARD!!
For some reason 3 inches of snow is a big deal down south. I guess in a city of 5million, 6 snowplows just couldn't keep up.
Needless to say, the city completely shut down...
One restaurant we went to had only 2 people on staff. Another ran out of food! We had some flight cancellations and delays and finally got home a day later than anticipated.
We will never forget our amazing adventure to "Icelanta!"